NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: AAA Texas 500
Topics: AAA Texas 500
November 4, 2012
FORT WORTH, TEXAS
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by third place finisher of tonight's AAA Texas 500, Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Snickers Toyota. With his third place finish, he ties his career best Sprint Cup Series at Texas Motor Speedway. Kyle, if you could talk about your night?
KYLE BUSCH: I thought it was a good night for us. We had a really fast race car, just not quite fast enough. We've seen the 2 and the 48 and the 15, I think were the best cars in practice. We knew we were going to have to deal with those guys tonight which we did. They were right up there all night long, and we were right there pressuring them all.
Felt good about our run. I just wish I had a come better restarts there at the end of the race or was a little closer to those guys when they were going at it and pushing. When Brad was pushing Jimmie up the track, I could have squeaked in and got underneath him. Just didn't quite have enough there and just didn't have enough to be comfortable. I was a little too loose there in the last couple restarts.
Q. Were you in a situation where you actually had to have the caution because you didn't have enough fuel for that long if we stayed Green from that long run? Secondly, you had sort of talked about this being a stepping stone for 2013. Can you elaborate a little more on that?
KYLE BUSCH: I think we were going to be okay, to be honest with you, to make it to the end. We were a little bit short, but from lap one I was doing some fuel savings. When Jimmie ran up my back bumper, he was pressuring me a little bit, and I just moved around and found some speed without having to stay on the throttle so much. I just let the car roll some more. That was good. From what Dave was telling me, we were going to be all right. Just kept working at that and let the caution come out and derail plans anyway.
As far as 2013 goes, we just continue to evolve and continue to try to get better and strive at what we need to so we can make the Chase next year, and obviously contend for the championship like the 2 and the 48 are doing.
Q. Both you and Jimmie took issue, I think, with the second to last restart by Brad. Did you think he went early? You said you were kind of watching the 2 and the 48 go back and forth. Did you sense a lot of gamesmanship and a lot of feisty racing going on between those two guys?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I guess there are no restart rules. I think Brad went early the last two times. From my vantage point, anyway, from compared to where the line starts you're supposed to go within the zone, and I felt like he was a little early on that. But, you know that's Cup racing, so what else was going on the racetrack is between those two guys. But from my experience with Brad it doesn't surprise me.
THE MODERATOR: I'd like to introduce our second place finisher, Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge. With the second place finish he's established a career best at Texas Motor Speedway. Brad is now 7 points back of Jimmie Johnson with two races remaining in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Brad, a tough battle there at the end. Talk about the last laps?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, I mean, obviously there was a good fight there, and Jimmie had some pretty good speed and so did Kyle. Them two were really good. I think our three cars were probably the three cars to beat all day long. We had a run there where I felt like we got out in front and had a good shot at it.
Yellow came out, and had the issue on pit road where I just got on the brakes and couldn't get it to slow down quite as well as I needed it to and put myself in a bad position where the 10 blocked me, and that was probably my fault.
But from there, we just had a dog fight to get some track position back. Did the last pit stop and got out up front. Just fought as hard as I could to keep the lead, just came up a little bit short there.
I thought I had it until that last yellow came out, but there is nothing you can do when somebody's wrecked on the track. So I can understand that. Just a good effort, came up a little bit short. Felt great about the speed we had. I feel like we caught a couple of bad breaks today and still put out a solid effort. So I feel confident if we keep putting efforts out like this, that we can win races and be tough to beat for the championship.
But it was a fun day for sure. I really enjoyed this race. I guess some people did too in the stands. I heard they were pretty excited, so that's great to know, and we'll keep fighting.
Q. You mentioned the fact how it all sort of came back to what changed the strategy was sliding through the pits. But in the end you had two fresh tires and they had four. It was kind of like you held the edge one time. You held the edge a second time. By the third time did you have the sinking feeling? Were the tires a clear difference?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Is that your question? I didn't know if you were going to keep going.
Q. Did the tires make the difference? I'm saying you held the lead twice on restarts with two fresh tires?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I think the restarts made the difference. Jimmie probably would have gotten me with an extended amount of laps to go. But with only five or six to go when we had the lead, I felt pretty good about it.
But getting that last yellow, I felt like restarts are like rock, paper, scissors. Eventually you're going to lose them. It's just a matter of time. There's always time to counteract the strategy. To win two out of three, I felt lucky to do that. Obviously, I didn't win the last one that counts.
Q. On that last restart, did you spin the tires in that final restart or did you think that Jimmie beat you to the line? It looked like he did, barely?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, every restart I didn't have very good drive today. Every restart I spun the tires. It's one of those deals where we fought through it best we could. That's part of the rock, paper, scissors analogy. So we'll just fight through that.
Q. Did you make the call there to go with two tires if so, what made you confident that would work? Second, Jimmie and Kyle have said they thought you jumped that restart after that next to last one. Then it looks like, as you said, Jimmie beat you to the line on the other one. Is that just all part of the restart craziness, and did you make the call on the two tires?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Your first question, the two tires, that was something that I thought was the right way to go. I stopped short of saying it was my call because we're a team and we make decisions together. Paul and I made the decision together. I might have poked him a little bit to do it, but we still made it together.
I thought that was the right thing to do. Maybe it was. Maybe it wasn't. Who knows? But it was worth a shot. Your other question was, say that again?
Q. On the last two restarts, first Jimmie was saying you jumped the restart on the next to last one. Then on the last one you talked about this a little bit, him beating you to the line there?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Okay, I got you now. Yeah, I think NASCAR said before they're not going to get out a micrometer and measure that kind of stuff. That's kind of the interpretation of the rules right now. Via that interpretation, I think it was probably fair play on both sides.
Q. Did you make a conscious decision not to try to take Jimmie and ride him up high on the track on that restart?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Yeah, I felt like we were just going to wreck. I wasn't looking to be the guy that wrecked him poorly. I didn't really enjoy the last time that happened with Kyle over here, and I don't think he did either. He might not believe that, but that's just not the way you want to run a race, and not the way I want to win a championship.
That was pretty much the only choice I had was to put ourselves in a bad position like I did before. I felt lucky to survive that one.
Q. I know it's been a difficult season, and I know you said you're just trying to do the best you can. But is there some positive momentum? Is it important going into next year?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, you've got to continue to work hard and strive to get better. For missing the Chase by what we did, yeah, we had a lot oftechnical problems, but I'm sure there were a few races where we could have finished better. So we've got to get better in every opportunity that we can.
This last ten weeks have been pretty good. We've run well. We've been fast. We've shown speed. Maybe we've been third to fifth or third to sixth place cars. Tonight I felt like we were a winning car if we could have gotten out front. I think track position meant that much, which we'll say that every week. It's just a matter of continuing to evolve and get better as a team and communicate because this car is obsolete in two weeks. So we'll work on all of that stuff in 2013.
Q. Brad, you talk about you felt kind of lucky to make it through right before that final restart. Did you feel like you raced dirty or wrong, or is that just racing for the championship?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: No, I didn't feel that way. I raced hard, and I'm sure someone would say dirty. Hell, anytime you run close to certain guys you're racing them dirty according to some people. But I raced hard, and we both came back around, so there's something to be said for that.
Q. When you lost eight spots on pit road, can you talk about what happened? Did you feel you got blocked in at all or did you just lock them up and get too far into your box?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: It was probably a little bit of both, and starting on my side. I've got to take the blame where blame is deserved, and I felt we could have gotten a little more help from the car that we were around. In that particular case it probably wouldn't have made a significant difference, but it would have made a difference.
Q. Is it not a little bit disheartening to go out there and give every ounce of everything you had and then still lose to Jimmie? It just seems like he always seems to do this to people.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: It don't feel good, but there is a part of you that just feels like you're first in class. When you catch the breaks that he caught today with the yellows and then you execute like they can, you're unbeatable. I'm confident that we can execute at a high level. I'm confident that the way it's worked over the last three weeks‑‑ we haven't caught good breaks or bad breaks, and he's caught several really good ones.
I'm confident that that will come back around, and when it does, we'll change these seconds and fifths or whatever they are over the last few weeks into wins.
I feel like that's bound to happen over the next two weeks, and we have the team to pull it off. I also feel like the way the points are right now, we still control our own destiny, which is if we win the race, we get the points lead. So that's about all you can ask for.
Q. That was my question, Brad. But following up on that, Jimmie has now won from the pole two straight weeks, maximum points two straight weeks. He's going to Phoenix where he's won four times, but you seem to be undeterred. You said if you can run like this, you'll beat him. Where does that inner confidence come from? Are you expecting you can run the table here based on the way the 48 has run the last two weeks?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I don't expect to run the table. We'll probably need to win one of the next two races, but I would have said that either. I feel like Phoenix is a whole different animal. I know you want to bring the stats up where he's so dominant. But they repaved last year, so it's not the same track. So I don't feel like a notebook there is that significant.
Other than the past two races there where we've been just as good, in both races I felt like we may have been a little better in the fall than he was, and he was probably a little better in the spring. Looking at it that way, I'd say it's probably a head's up match going into Phoenix and probably the same going into Homestead. We just need to win the head's up matches.
We didn't today. That's not good, but it's not bad either. I think there is still plenty of potential to do that.
Q. Kyle, you described on the quick TV interview what you were seeing in front of you with those two guys. Could you give us more detail on what you saw and the hard racing between the two? Brad, with the two tire decision, was that pretty much based on the track position that you lost from the previous stop? In other words, without the rough pit stop, would you have been able to take four?
KYLE BUSCH: You're talking about last restart or second to last restart?
KYLE BUSCH: The second to last restart, those guys got side by side and they were running hard. It seemed like Brad was moving up the racetrack to force Jimmie into the dirty racetrack, the rubber was still laid on the racetrack so it makes it slick and slows you down. He's no dummy. He's smart.
It cost Jimmie a little bit, got him loose. But he held off turn four and then they went back down into turns one and two and did it again, and finally he cleared him. I wish I could have gotten through there and got to the bottom and passed both of them, but I missed my opportunity there.
Last restart though, Jimmie got an excellent restart, and he stayed alongside of him enough. I think he had enough of a run down into turn one that he just stayed on the gas and cleared Brad then drove away. So that was a race‑winning move.
BRAD KESELOWSKI: Well, yeah, certainly I didn't take two because I thought they'd be better than four, but you're trying to get to the lead and present the opportunities that might be. It just didn't play out. Obviously, four tires are going to be better than two, but it's my job to find a way to win the race, and I didn't do that. Certainly put on a good effort for it.
Q. These last three or four races have been very intense for everybody. For you, how do you think it's affecting you mentally? What is the cost? Is it high? Are you enjoying it?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: The cost?
BRAD KESELOWSKI: I wasn't aware there was a cost. I mean, yeah, I'm enjoying it. It's my dream to run for a Sprint Cup Championship. It's any driver at this level's dream to run for a championship. It's a lot of fun to do. Certainly I would have liked to have won today, but I feel like we're fighting the good fight and doing some great things as a team that I'm really, really proud of.
Obviously, it's not going to come easy. But anything worth doing in life shouldn't come easy, and I appreciate the efforts of the people that I'm around to make it happen. I appreciate the fact that it's difficult, because it brings out the best in everybody. As a group, I feel like we've brought our best, and I'm really proud of everybody for that.
Q. I don't know if you noticed, your brother and you are the only two chasers in the Top 10. Any comments on him as far as the new team and his situation and obviously doing pretty well this weekend?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, it is good. Certainly to see him excel is beneficial for him and what he's got going on. For us, we've been struggling‑‑ I wouldn't say struggling, but we've been working hard on finding speed and getting speed to contend with the top three, four, five guys each and every week. So for us to show the kind of consistency that we have the past few weeks has been good.
It's cool to see Kurt obviously developing with a new team and getting that chemistry going quite quickly in order to get himself better acclimated for 2013.
Q. You've been in here sitting at that desk quite a bit this weekend, so how does that help you going forward? Does that help you with momentum?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I think it helps, sure. At the beginning of the year it was told to me that I should cut back on my extracurricular racing because it distracts me from my Cup effort. Then I come out and qualify in the top three in all three series.
If it wasn't for a truck battery issue that we have, we would have finished top three in all three series. Any sort of track time that I can get, it always seems to be beneficial for me no matter how tired I feel on Monday.
This is a good race weekend for us. I'd love to say I'm doing the triple in the next two, but we've got Brian Scott running my truck next week at Phoenix, but beyond that I'll be running every other race from here on out, so it's good.
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