CHEVROLET NCS AT PHOENIX 1: Kyle Busch Media Availability Quotes

SPEAKING OF PIT CREWS, YOU’VE GOT THREE NEW GUYS THIS WEEK.. I THINK A COUPLE OF THEM COME FROM THE XFINITY SERIES. IS THAT A CONCERN AT ALL THAT THEY’RE DEALING WITH DIFFERENT LUGNUT SITUATIONS, AND HAVE THEY HAD TIME TO PRACTICE TOGETHER?

“I have no clue. I don’t have any idea of where guys are coming from, what their background is or what their experience is. But you led into that and gave me some of that, so thank you.

I always just kind of assume that the Cup guys were the Xfinity guys, so news to me. We’ll find out how good they are come around 1:30 p.m. on Sunday.”

ANDY PETREE SAID HE TALKED TO YOU THIS WEEK. I WAS WONDERING TOO FROM AN ATHLETE’S POINT-OF-VIEW.. FOR HOW GOOD AS YOU ARE ON PIT ROAD, HOW MUCH DO YOU HAVE TO BE CAREFUL ABOUT NOT TRYING TO DO TOO MUCH TO CARRY A PIT CREW WHEN THERE’S A CONCERN THAT YOU MIGHT LOSE A COUPLE OF SECONDS, SO HOW DO I MAKE IT UP? I’M GUESSING MAYBE WAS THAT A FACTOR IN SLIDING THROUGH, OR MAYBE NOT?

“Yeah, it was. Anytime I’m on pit road, I’m always thinking of the sheet; the statistics and the pieces of information that we have of what we try to gauge ourselves to the rest of the competition with. There’s probably five or six different sectors of pit road of things that you worry about to make sure you’re the best at all of those, and one of those is getting onto pit road; how you roll your pit road speed with your lights; how you get into the box and how you get out of the box; and how you exit pit road and how you get back up on the race track and blend.

All of those things, you want to be perfect every time. For me, I had come in the previous two pit stops before the one I slid through, where I came in way too light, and I was like – ‘OK, I’m coming in way too light’. If I’m giving up.. if it’s a half of a second, I don’t even know what it is, but I’m like – ‘OK, I’m going to make sure I hit it this time’. I hit the sign the way I needed to hit the sign and everything else. And so, that’s what happened on the next one – I came in as hot as I thought I needed to come in, and when it locked the rear tires with the brakes, it just slid and it slid two inches too far. One week, you’re two inches too short, and the next, you’re two inches too far. It’s kind of crazy.

All-in-all, just a frustrating day to have the disaster that we did on pit road of just being really slow. And then for me to slide through to kind of add insult to injury on my behalf, we otherwise would have been a top-10 finisher. That was the day we needed and we certainly lost a lot of points.”

WHEN YOU SAY ‘TOO LIGHT’, WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? DOES THAT MEAN THAT YOU’RE NOT HITTING THE SIGN, OR NOT HITTING IT AS FORCEFULLY?

“Yeah, so you’re rolling your pit road speed, and then as you decelerate to come into your box, you want to go to the brake pedal once and just kind of slow down and get down to speed one constant down. The two times before that, I was coming in.. I was slowing down and I was having to get off the brake because I was too slow, and then reapply brake in order to stop at the spot that I needed to stop on. So I tried to hit that one trajectory of just straight down of deceleration, and I missed it.”

ON THE STOP THAT YOU WERE CALLED FOR PITTING OUTSIDE OF THE BOX, YOU CAN’T SEE WHERE YOUR SPLITTER IS, CORRECT? SO YOU HAVE TO RELY ON ONE OF THE PIT CREW GUYS? RANDALL (BURNETT) SAID HE COULDN’T SEE IT EITHER.

“Yeah, so typically in years past at JGR, we’d always have a system of – it’s the changer’s responsibility or a guy behind the wall.. like one of the pit crew support guys behind the wall just needs to start jumping up-and-down and waving.. like pushing back, pushing back. That’s what I did.. like when I’d stop, I came to a stop and I’m like – man, I feel a little long, but I don’t know. So I looked at the behind-the-wall guys, and the behind-the-wall guys were like moving the hose and ready to catch a tire, like that wasn’t even something that they were supposed to do. So we’ve talked about some of those things to put more responsibility on more players so we cannot have the penalty exist.

But to further Dustin’s point – like the ten-tenths on pit road.. like I’m really good at getting all ten. And when I feel like I’m in a downward position, where I’m behind and I’m going to try and get extra or more, yeah that’s led to my speeding penalties. That’s led to my sliding through the box because I know I have to makeup time on pit road myself to kind of compensate for what we’re losing when we’re stopped in the box.

I know everyone at RCR is busting their tails and working hard. I know that Ray and everybody in the pit crew department is, we just have what we have. We’ve got to work through it, and if that’s changing players around, then we have to change players around. We’ve got to find something that’s going to strengthen our front line, our defense, whatever it is or whatever you want to call those guys.. special teams. We’ve got to find the players that are going to make it roll.”

IS THERE A TIME OF THE YEAR WHERE YOU’RE LIKE – OK, LET’S SET A GROUP AND JUST LIVE OR DIE WITH THEM, OR NO MATTER WHAT TIME OF YEAR IT IS, WE JUST HAVE TO KEEP CHANGING AND PUTTING THE BEST GUYS WE FEEL WE HAVE IN THERE?

“Well I feel like you have to keep getting the best guys that you can get in there, and change positions as you need to change them. Honestly, when you get down to the nitty-gritty, you’re going to run out of players, you know what I mean? The depth chart is not very deep for guys on pit road that are the ‘excel’ group. I feel like there’s an ‘A’ group of people, there’s a ‘B’ group and there’s a ‘C’ group.. just like drivers. There’s an ‘A’ group, a ‘B’ group and a ‘C’ group. And so it’s hard to get any of those available guys from that ‘A’ group to come over to you because they’re under contract. You’re basically playing.. what is it in football.. the practice squad, you know what I mean? You’re pulling guys off the practice squad to see what you can find, and hopefully you hit one.”

LAST YEAR, YOUR TWO RACES HERE IN PHOENIX WERE PRETTY MUCH POLAR OPPOSITES. YOU PERFORMED PRETTY WELL IN THE SPRING, AND THEN IN THE FALL, YOU WEREN’T ONE OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP FOUR CONTENDERS. IS THERE ANYTHING FROM EITHER OF THOSE TWO RACES THAT YOU’RE REALLY LOOKING AT WHEN COMING INTO THIS WEEKEND WITH THE NEW SHORT-TRACK PACKAGE?

“So the first race, we struggled a little bit.. we weren’t that great. I think we did get an eighth-place finish out of it. So we got a finish out of it, but we weren’t very good. The second race though, I felt like we were really good.. we were passing cars, we were fast, we had speed, but pit road happens. I don’t know how many positions we lost on pit road here last fall, but it was bad. So I just kept trying to makeup the positions that we lost. I think we came down under a green-flag pit cycle.. we were in eighth, seventh or something like that, and we came out 12th. So now I’m trying to makeup for lost time, and then I end up spinning myself out in that long run. That again, everything kind of compounds itself and puts on top of on top of on top of your issues that you have and makes your day entirely worse.

But back to your question.. the fall race, I felt like we were competitive. I felt like we were fast. I felt like we had a shot. If we had maintained every time on pit road, I think we could actually move forward throughout the day and get positions. We just need to be able to do that. If you’re not going backwards, then that’s a hell of a day for us.”

OBVIOUSLY PIT CREWS HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A ‘HOT TOPIC’ WHEN PEOPLE SWITCH STUFF. IS EVERYONE SO CLOSE NOW, THAT’S WHY THERE’S SUCH AN EMPHASIS ON PIT CREWS? LIKE THEY’VE NEVER MATTERED MORE THAN THEY HAVE NOW, IN TERMS OF PIT STOPS? OR IS THAT TOO MUCH OF A LEAP COMPARED TO THE PAST?

“I guess I feel like the difference between first and 20th is much closer than it used to be. When I had my heyday of pit crews at JGR, we were running.. let’s just say we were running 12-second stops, where the rest of JGR were running 12.5-second stops, and the rest of the competition were 13-second stops. Now, the whole field is.. if you’re not under 10-seconds, you’re nobody. You might as well not even play. You have to get to that threshold. There’s now guys that are flying.. like 8.8, 8.9-second stops is a good stop, a fast stop. 9.4-seconds is probably about average. Yeah, we’re all just looking for what we can because on-track, at times, the cars are so equal that it’s hard to pass on the track. The easiest place to pass somebody else is when they’re sitting still, on pit road. So we have to be better on pit road.. we can’t be going backwards, at least.”

AIR BLOCKING BECAME A BIG TOPIC LAST WEEKEND AFTER KYLE LARSON WAS DESCRIBING. CAN YOU TAKE US THROUGH THE NUANCES OF THAT, AND IF YOU’RE THE LEAD GUY, YOU HAVE TO HAVE A HUGE ADVANTAGE WITH THAT TECHNIQUE. IS THAT ACCURATE?

“Yeah, it’s way bigger with this car than it was with the old car. This car is 30 percent worse. They were supposed to make it 30 percent better, and that didn’t happen.

Who was it.. look back to the race, was it Kansas where (Joey) Logano and (Kevin) Harvick, when Harvick ran up to Logano and then Logano just air blocked him and couldn’t pass him. So there was that race, which that was the old car, wasn’t it? So it happens always, in anything. Trucks are that way. Those guys are doing it somewhat. But these Cup cars are really bad for that. You literally just go off in the corner and if you can watch your mirror and drive out front well enough, then you can just kind of let your car go where it needs to go in order to air block that guy behind you. I was doing that a little bit with (Kyle) Larson at the end of the first stage, just to try to hold him back some. I wasn’t necessarily air blocking him.. I was more so trying to confuse him of where I was running. I wouldn’t run the same line every time going back to the next end of the race track. Like I would run high one lap, I’d run middle lap. I’d run high.. I’d run low. I would say Kyle is really good at it. Joey is really good at it. Joey is really good at it running 12th, not for the lead (laughs). (Chase) Briscoe last week was an absolute disaster with guys trying to do it; pulling slide jobs and everything else. But yeah, you try to do it as much as you can when you know you have somebody to try and hold off.”

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