Toyota Racing – Kyle Busch
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)
Daytona International Speedway – July 5, 2019
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch was made available to the media in Daytona:
Kyle Busch, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing
Can you talk about your brother’s (Kurt Busch) role as a veteran leader amongst the drivers?
“I mean he certainly has a voice. He’s a champion in the sport and has been around a long time and he has seen things and been a part of a lot of things as well. I think he has that opportunity, that clout, and he should be listened to. It’s been pretty good for me the last couple years to be on that front and to be able to go to the NASCAR trailer and talk to those guys and have an opinion and have those opinions be listened to. Sometimes you see things come from those, sometimes you don’t. I go back to the Bill France Jr. adage that they need to run the sport how they need to run the sport and sometimes they need to stop listening to people that don’t know what they are doing or what they are thinking and just have a vision and go for it. I’ve given my opinion, and that’s kind of how I still perceive that’s how they should still do things.”
This is the last July 4th race at Daytona. Is it a big deal that there is not going to be another July 4th race here?
“Yeah, I am. Especially for where it’s going. I’ll be frank, I’m kind of disappointed. Overall, just being in Daytona for July 4th has always been cool. Having the opportunity to go to the beach, having the opportunity to do that, whether that be on Thursday or Friday, not having a lot going on, so we are going to miss that, the fireworks show, things like that. Now that’s going to be in Indy I guess. Yeah, there’s no beach there.”
Is qualifying being cancelled a big deal?
“I don’t mind not qualifying here. I think it’s kind of a waste of time anyways. All it does is show who has a faster car, and things tend to happen here during the race and that doesn’t mean much. Overall, being able to start up front is certainly better than we would have started. I think we would have been back in the teens. Having the second starting spot is better for us.”
Do you remember your first impressions of Bristol?
“I went into Bristol; first time ever going there just thinking about the times I was able to race at Winchester (Speedway). High-banked, half-mile racetrack. Asphalt, you run up against the wall. It’s different. Same sort of mentality, I guess. You just throw it into the corners and really attack it and really feel the cars squat, and everything that it does there with the amount of load that you pick up there when you go through the corners. It’s a fun place. My first time there didn’t end up well. It was in a Busch Series test back in my Hendrick Motorsports days. We had a throttle hang and I drove it up in the turn one fence about halfway through the test. That wasn’t too much fun. We were able to go back for the race and I think we ran second or third. Ever since then it’s always been a really cool place. I struggled there the first few times in the Cup car. Just with the more horsepower and trying to throw the thing around is hard. What I was doing with the Xfinity car wasn’t quite working; you had to have a little bit more finesse. Once I figured that out, it’s been pretty good.”
Are drivers tired of others blocking? Do you think there will be less lifting?
“I have never seen Brad (Keselowski) lift behind me anyways. I don’t anticipate if it’s an 18 car he’s going to do anything any different. You have to be careful with who you are racing, who you are doing things with and what’s going on. Tony (Stewart) always kind of said that too — years ago — I threw a big block on him in 2008 and about ended up on my lid.”
You would think (Martin) Truex Jr. and you are championship favorites, but after Chicagoland do you have any worries about your intermediate program?
“I look at Kansas. We could have won. I think, we should have finished second or third. We had issues happen. I had flat tires, got laps down, made all those laps back, and then got damage with like 20 to go and ended up two laps down. Same exact thing happened in Chicagoland last weekend. Where I got into the wall. Got damage. Had a flat. Went laps down. Was able to make it all up. Made it back into the top seven. Then was racing (Joey) Logano and cut a left rear and could never recover from that. Was stuck in the lucky dog spot for the next 80 laps. Just situational. I felt like in Chicago. We could have won. Realistically, we were probably a third-place car. So, I don’t think we are that far off. Things just keep biting us and not giving us the opportunity to finish the way that we feel that we should.”
Is there a challenge to starting a race here at Daytona from points versus qualifying?
“You know, I think you’re starting around those you’ve kind of raced around all year long realistically. When you’re in the order of how you are in points, you’re racing against the guys that you’ve been up front with year-round. I don’t see that as much of a difference. Yeah, there might be a faster car here or there that can qualify farther up than you, but when it all boils down to it at the end of the day, the competition in which you start the race around is kind of who you’ve been around all year long. Trust me, by lap three or four, it might even be sooner – you won’t be in the same spot.”
What is it about Kentucky Speedway that suits you so well?
“I don’t know. People ask me that question about a bunch of different race tracks. It’s pretty nice to be able to go to these race tracks and be able to have the opportunity to do well and run well and finish up front and win. You look at Bristol, you look at Richmond, you look at Kentucky, you look at Indy now more recently than years past and Kansas for that matter over year’s past – we’ve been doing a hell of a lot better and it’s been really good to go to these places and have the consistency that we need to run up front like that. Kentucky though, when we first started going there, I remember going there in the ARCA days and the Xfinity days, back when the asphalt was old, rough and bumpy. Then they ground it a couple times and it kind of changed a little bit. I kept up with the changes and then now it’s all repaved and it’s all new. I feel like I kind of lost the dance floor a little bit. We’ve got to get back on our horse and ride a little bit better. I think we’ve still run in the top-four there the last couple years.”
Are you more frustrated with the 550hp package due to your years of experience with the higher horsepower package?
“You’re momentum racing. It’s almost like electric car racing. You’re just trying to keep the gas down as much as you can keep the gas down rather than having the finesse of what it takes to be able to lift out of the gas and throw the car in the corner and feel it slide a little bit and then feed it throttle and get back to it a little bit. It’s under-powered and you’re just momentum racing. You’re trying the best you can to just keep the momentum rolling to try to hunt down that guy in front of you. It just seems that things are happening so much slower now. You’re going through the corner faster, but like getting a run on a guy and catching up to a guy is just so slow. You only beat him a half-a-tenth a lap so it takes forever to get there because there’s never a chance for the guy in front of you to slip that much that really hurts him and then you can get that tenth or that two-tenths a lap on somebody when they overheat their tires or something like that. Under the limit of the tire at some of these places we go to, like last week at Chicago, especially when it turned into a night race, the race was around the bottom all night long. The top never really came in as much as we all would have wanted it to and you couldn’t move around as much as you wanted to, as soon as you wanted to. It takes 20 or 30 laps for tires to wear out before you start moving around where before it was like eight laps. It’s a different form of racing and yes, it’s frustrating.”
Do you expect New Hampshire to be similar to Phoenix and hard to pass?
“It’s going to be hard to pass. It’s always hard to pass at New Hampshire so I don’t know how it will be much better or much worse. I anticipate it being still difficult to pass. I’m not certain if they’re spraying, I imagine they are for that top groove and that bottom groove so the middle is left undone. Since doing that, that’s kind of livened up the race track I feel like the last couple of years. It’s actually made it a bit more racey, especially on restarts and such where you’re not just so tense and on-edge and feeling like you’re on ice to not slide into the guy around you.”
Do you think NASCAR needs better judgement or show more common sense in calling pit road penalties?
“Shorter answer is yes, more common sense would be nice. But hey, it’s balls and strikes man. Even the best umpires are going to screw it up. It is what it is. It’s not cut-dry, you know what I mean?”
Why do you think Joe Gibbs gets so emotional when he wins at Daytona?
“It’s the Daytona 500. I think that’s probably what you’re referring to. I think you’re probably also referring to the first race back since the passing of his son with Denny Hamlin being able to win the Daytona 500 earlier this year. He’s won that race now three times – twice with Denny and once with Dale Jarrett. It would certainly be nice to have my name on that list of being able to win the Daytona 500 for the Coach. I can’t remember our win here in 2008, what it was like for him and whether it was an emotional one on that day. I wish I could, but my memory doesn’t serve me right now. Overall, I think everybody looks at Daytona as the world center of racing and obviously the most prestigious race here that we have so hopefully we can win tomorrow night and figure out if he’s emotional again. I’ll let you know.”