CHARLOTTE, NC – Kyle Busch has always spoken his mind, and nothing was different at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour on Tuesday. He is bothered by the so-called youth movement and the attention it keeps getting in the media and the promotion it gets from the sanctioning body.
“It is bothersome, Busch responded. “We’ve paid our dues, and our sponsors have and everything else, and all you’re doing is advertising all these younger guys for fans to figure out and pick up on and choose as their favorite driver. I think it’s stupid. But I don’t know, I’m not the marketing genius that’s behind this deal.
“You know, I just do what I can do, and my part of it is what my part is. I guess one thing that can be said is probably the younger guys are bullied into doing more things than the older guys are because we say no a lot more because we’ve been there, done that and have families, things like that, and want to spend as much time as we can at home. You know, maybe that’s some of it. But you know, it’s ‑‑ some of these marketing campaigns and things like that, pushing these younger drivers, is I wouldn’t say all that fair.”
Will the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas be as good as last year? Busch responded in the affirmative.
“I don’t think we would be any worse. I would like to think we’d be better,” Busch said. “We kind of started out the season a little bit on the slower side, if you will, last year with our new car. We were kind of behind the 8‑ball a little bit maybe, and as the season kind of progressed, we learned what things our car liked and what we needed to do in order to make ourselves better and more competitive, and we were able to do those things and got it to where we were pretty fast there obviously and peaked later in the season. Hopefully, we can start out our year this year a little stronger than we did last year.”
“I definitely feel as though we matched them ( Furniture Row Racing and Martin Truex, Jr.’s No. 78) at Homestead. You know, I’d say that we were actually a little bit better than they were at Homestead, and that’s what makes Homestead so painful is you can be a guy who wins 35 races out of the year, and then that 36th race you can finish second and lose the championship. We thought we had the opportunity to put the 78 bunch in that situation but just wasn’t quite able to pull it all off there at the end of the Homestead race. You know, that was kind of painful for us. Feels like a letdown and having the opportunity to be able to win that race, we were right there, we were real close, but wasn’t able to get it done. Other racetracks, you know, they kind of ‑‑ I feel like they’ve even gotten better at some of their weaker tracks, like Martinsville, for instance, they had a shot to win at Martinsville. They weren’t quite as good as us, but they were right there all day. Loudon, now they’re really good at. Phoenix they’re pretty good at. They outran us at Phoenix. Anywhere you look, they’re obviously really good.”
Now that Busch is the longest serving driver at JGR, he looks at the opportunity of being the mentor to younger drivers.
“Yeah, obviously it’s a unique opportunity for me being one of the elder statesmen, if you will, of the sport, let alone Joe Gibbs Racing, and being able to kind of lead our younger guys, if you will, Erik and Daniel,” said Busch. “Those guys have come through Kyle Busch Motorsports, so it’s been fun to watch them progress through the years with the Truck Series, the XFINITY Series, and now being into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. I’m looking forward to working with them and continuing to see their progress, but also hopefully being able to continue to be one of the leadership guys at our team and being able to race on for championships for years to come.”