NASCAR Media Conference
November 6, 2007
DENISE MALOOF: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the NASCAR NEXTEL teleconference. For those of you covering this weekend's event at Phoenix International Raceway, our Chase for the NEXTEL Cup leader, Jimmie Johnson, will be the guest for Friday's Nextel leader chat and will visit the infield media center at 8:00 a.m. on Friday.
Our guest today is Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 5 Kellogg's CARQUEST Chevrolet and is fourth in the standings, and he's also one of two drivers this weekend who will participate in all three NASCAR national series events at Phoenix. And Kyle is even going to do the quadruple; he's scheduled to participate in Saturday night's Fall Classic Super Late Model season finale at the Bull Ring in Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Kyle, you have a busy, busy plate up ahead.
KYLE BUSCH: Of course, we love racing and that's what we're here to do, try to have some fun, looking forward to it and hop fly we can have a good weekend here, not only with the Cup car, but, of course, the Busch and Truck here.
Q. With so much going on in the Chase, you're fourth in points as mentioned, and you're running four events this weekend, is there a chance to get burned out; or, is this a chance that you look at to keep your mind off of everything else and be ready for Sunday?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I think it's, you know, it's both ways. You can get burned out pretty easily, but I feel like I'm young enough and everything and have a good time still and do everything I want to do. It's another way to keep your mind off it, like you said.
So we're just trying to go out there and do the best I can, of course, in whatever I race, doesn't matter what it is. To be busy and keep busy, it's good for me and fun for me and something I like doing.
Q. What do you think you have learned from Jeff and Jimmie over the years as far as achieving a level of consistency? And moving forward with Gibbs, what do you think you have to do to make that jump to the next level?
KYLE BUSCH: I think learning from Jeff and Jimmie, I think you learn everything, every day. There's a bunch of stuff that you learn in this deal and in this series and in this way of life and everything.
So you know, for me, it's been a learning experience my whole career and everything. And so you know, what I've learned from Jeff and Jimmie is just consistency. And of course I've got the will to win, but for some reason, not quite able to do it as often as they are. But you know, just trying to get out there every weekend and trying to do the best we can, and you know, having a good team and having good leadership and everything like that makes it seem a little bit easier, I guess.
Looking forward to next year being able to move over to the Gibbs side and still want to keep that tradition going. I guess I've become a better points racer, per se; being able to be more consistent and get involved in less wrecked and start stirring less controversy, per se.
Q. Could you see yourself doing the same thing Jimmie was doing in the winning laps Sunday with the points lead on the line, but still duking it out and going for broke?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I mean, that's what we're here for. We're racing and we want to win, and we want to do what we've got to do not only to win races, but to win championships. Jimmie is a great driver, and it's not very often you just see him spin out and crash or wreck somebody else. Pretty much you knew that he was going to be able to go for the win, and, of course, not take a chance of wrecking. He does a great job at that, and, of course, being able to battle for the championship. And he did what any racer would do, and that's to challenge for the win.
Q. What's your schedule going to be like this week? Do you have to fly back here to qualify for the Super Late Models?
KYLE BUSCH: No, I don't have to qualify. The speed racer is enough to give me a promoter's provisional, so I don't have to show up to qualify for the race.
Q. Third in the points, is that a realistic goal?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, pretty much that's what we're looking towards. We want to get Hendrick Motorsports in the Top 3. It's a great goal and we've had great runs in the Chase.
Last year we struggled and couldn't do anything right, and this year, it seems as though we can really hit it strong and run well if something doesn't happen. We got wrecked at Kansas and we got wrecked at Talladega, and then again at Atlanta we got caught there with the pit stop problem, and got mired back in traffic and had a bad finish there. If it wasn't for some of those things, we would be right there contending for this thing, too.
We've led laps in almost all of the races here so far and we have been running up front in all the races. So it's been good to see that, so kind of gives me a better basis going into these last two.
Q. Wondered if you could relay some of your experiences with Bruton Smith and what people can expect that will get a chance to meet him.
KYLE BUSCH: I've talked to him a couple of times, nothing really that big of a deal, just at little convention party deals, whatever, here or there.
Talked to his son, Marcus a little bit, too, and those guys are pretty cool guys. They want to do what's best for the sport and what's good for not only, of course, the NASCAR fan experience in building these great racetracks like Vegas, and, of course, what all they have got at Texas and Atlanta and everything else.
I think they are going to get a good experience out there in the New England region, and hopefully they take a good look at what's going on up there and they can turn it into something better
Q. Is there any common thread to the tracks that link them together besides the ownership?
KYLE BUSCH: I mean, like Atlanta, Texas, Charlotte, the layouts are pretty much the same.
As far as the outlook of what the racetrack's like inside, facility-wise and everything, they are all a little bit different but they are all kind of somewhat similar. It's kind of the same thing in a little bit different light.
Q. With the impending team change that you're going through for 2008, has it been difficult to maintain your focus throughout the closing stages of 2007
KYLE BUSCH: No, not at all. If you look at it, I think I finished in the Top 5 or pretty close to the Top 5 in every Chase race that we've had here that we haven't had trouble in. If I'm not mistaken, I don't think that, you know, shows that I'm taking anything away from what I've got going on this year to look forward to next year.
So it pretty much is all on this year right now and when it turns 1/1/08 that's when you concentrate on '08.
Q. With the changes announced a, lot of people have been talking about some of the changes they have seen in you on the racetrack and your personality; have you seen a change, and if so, what's changed and what's stayed the same?
KYLE BUSCH: I guess I've seen the change and heard the change, but to me, I'm still the same old dude. So I just try to go out there, and know, do what I know how to do, and that's to race cars.
And again I've just been a little bit calm, a little bit more cool and collected and a little bit more relaxed, per se, and just being able to enjoy what's going on; and hopefully being able to win a championship which we got a little bit behind. So, you know, if we can finish out the year third in points, then that's going to be pretty respectable and I'll be happy with that.
Q. Somebody called my radio show yesterday and said, "How come nobody is talking about Kyle Busch, he's only fourth in the points." While it's hard, Clint Bowyer, maybe he could make it, but do you feel like you're giving yourself the recognition that you are currently fourth in the points -- I know you wish you were farther ahead, but that's a pretty huge deal, to you, isn't it, to be that far up on the list?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, it is. Clint's had a great Chase. He's third and, of course, Jeff and Jimmie, they have had an awesome Chase and haven't had any trouble. It's great to see that, that those guys can battle it out for a championship together. It takes having good races every single week, and that's what they have got. They have got the ability to run up top and challenge and compete for the wins, and, of course, the ability or the luck to not get caught up in anything to where they are that far ahead of us.
So, you know, we had a couple bad races there, and, you know, Jimmie lucked out, I believe, on Atlanta, and we kind of got things going away from us. And Jimmie drove to the win in Texas, he had to catch Kenseth at the end of race, but that probably could have been our race, as well, too, in Texas.
Just a bummer the past couple of weeks and just a Chase that we haven't been able to compete with those guys and we've gotten caught up with some trouble. All in all, it's going to be a pretty respectable year to finish up third in the points.
Q. Could you handicap the last two races as far as Jeff and Jimmie are concerned; any particular strengths or weaknesses as you look at those two in the last two events?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, Phoenix, Jimmie is always going to run well at Phoenix, and it's a COT race, so it's going to be a pretty good deal for us because Hendrick Motorsports has done really, really well and Gibbs has done well, too. So they are going to be fast.
Jeff, he's finally got a win at Phoenix I believe earlier this year, and you know, was able to achieve that. So I think you're going to see Phoenix be a good race for us, for all of the Hendrick cars, and Jeff and Jimmie especially.
Of course, Homestead, I think besides Jimmie's bad luck at Homestead, they do have -- when they do finish well, they do finish in the Top 5. I don't foresee those guys finishing outside of the Top 5 there these next two weeks.
Q. How would you characterize your relationship with the people at Hendrick right now; are you going out on good terms?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, as far as I know. Everything went well. We had a couple bad races and guys have taken the blame and stuff like that, which has been good and have apologized to me, and I accept that and that's cool.
You know, there's no hard feelings going out on this deal. It's actually going to be pretty good. I have a lot of friends there. So everybody is really keeping up and being able to keep communicating and hopefully we'll do well.
Q. Earnhardt said that he would like to go out in the last couple and win one for his team; do you feel the same way?
KYLE BUSCH: Of course, I want to win every week. I've run up front in every single race these past few weeks, and I've had chances to win, but what are you going to do, go home and pout about it because you didn't get a win? No, you're going to try harder for the next week. We led a bunch of laps in Atlanta, a bad pit stop took it away from us. And of course, at Texas we led the most laps and were leading at the end of the race and took four tires instead of two tires, which got us back in traffic a little bit and weren't able to come back through there as well as Jimmie Johnson was. If we can do it here in these next two weeks, that would be pretty awesome.
Q. If the team change that you are facing isn't much of a distraction, as you say, you still have the up-and-downs on the track. Is there a best way to handle the occasional frustration you face?
KYLE BUSCH: I mean, the best way to do it is just let stuff go and put it behind you. You've got -- you know, you've got three cars every week and you're running well and running up front and looking good and everybody is feeling good and stuff, so there's really not much more that you can ask for.
There's frustrations that you can't win and you've been in this deal for three years and only got four wins, and yet you see your teammates winning eight, nine, whatever races a year, so. It kind of makes you think like, well, what do I have to do to win one of these things? But it's not my time yet, I guess, and hopefully maybe one of these years it will be.
Q. When you look back over your tenure with Hendrick Motorsports, and then you look at the changes that you have had within yourself, not only just on the racetrack but off the racetrack, as well, what has been the biggest changes that you have seen within yourself?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't know. I guess, per se, becoming more forgiving I guess. When stuff happens, you know, you tend to put a lot of blame on yourself or on somebody else or whatever. It's kind of difficult to swallow.
And yet, you know you're frustrated or mad, actually, for a couple of days after, which now it's just, you know, what are you going to do? You're not going to change the outcome of what happened. You can't go back and relive something or redo something.
So you just have to be more relaxed a little bit and a little bit more confident in yourself that you can go out there the following week and do what you've got to do
Q. Is there a bit of nervousness, you know everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing, but still, any time someone changes a job, you never know what to really expect until you get there. Has there been a nervousness?
KYLE BUSCH: Not really. It was actually for the test, I have to say that; just getting over there and not really knowing the guys and not being able to spend time with them and the shop and stuff like that, there was a little bit there. But everything went so well. The guys were great and really made me feel welcome. And, of course, they like the way everything went and I like the way everything went and we were fast, so that made sense.
You know, it's all good. So I think next year, or, who knows, you do some off-season testing can and of course next year, should start off pretty good and not have any problem.
Q. We're getting nearer to the end of the Chase, and every weak I hear people say how come there's so much banking and so much bumping at the end of the race. Don't you think people realize there's a lot of dollars involved here, and, hey, to move up a couple of race places, we're talking about a lot of money; do you think that has to play an important part of it?
KYLE BUSCH: I wouldn't say it's money. I think it's just, you know, a lot of it's points. I don't race for money. Yeah, it's great and you get a paycheck to do what you love to do and race racecars. But I'm out there for, you know, for the pride of myself and being able to hopefully become some day the NEXTEL Cup Champion. That's what I want. I'm not out there to make a pretty penny. I race because I love it.
The bridge stuff, I like being able to get identity there on Saturday and get a little bit of track time and see what's going to happen for the Cup race on Sunday. So I can't answer for everybody there, but for me to get another spot, it's all about the points in order to just keep the championship stuff going.
DENISE MALOOF: Kyle, thanks for joining us today, thanks for your time and good luck this weekend.
KYLE BUSCH: Perfect. Thank you very much.
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