KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Pedigree Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
What was it like to watch your life play out on the big screen last night and have people cheer for you in the theatre?
“Yeah, it was a unique experience for sure. You know, really exciting opportunity to have that chance to showcase my career and everything and what it's been from the very beginning until, I guess up to 2019 so was good. Great reception. Positive feedback from a lot of folks and most of those that come up to me through the after party and would say they've never been to a NASCAR race, but just seeing that, you know, makes them kind of want to see what NASCAR is all about. And, you know, they thought it was a good show to portray what my career has been like thus far.”
How important would it be for you to win the regular season championship?
“I think that would be important. I mean, obviously the bonus points that come along with it. It's the number one priority there. So you want to win races, you want to get those bonus points, you want to win stages, get those bonus points, all of that to just allow yourself an easier time, let's say through the Playoffs. So you know, having that goal right there, you know, we've got to be careful with it because you can't overextend yourself trying to race for a win -- Gateway and get yourself crashed out in and not get points. We are so close with it and I feel like, you look back at COTA, big missed opportunity running third on the last lap, finishing 33rd. You know, Sonoma, we just all completely missed it, but running horrible not getting very many points on that day. So there's some definitely more opportunities than that too, that we've thrown away that I wish we had back and we'd be either the leader much closer.”
How did the Martinsville test go earlier this week?
“So the dirt, the Bristol dirt aero kit, let's call it, the bottom pan area. I felt like was a net positive. We were able to get into a traffic setting situation where we started a race and kind of run around each other a little bit. The 2 car was a little better than us at that point. So he was able to get by me but when I could follow him I follow like he was on my bumper following me. I got on his bumper following him. He drove away just due to the fact that he was a little bit better than us at that point in the test, but I felt like that was a net positive. I don't feel like any of the tires were any better. There was a couple there was a softer set of lifts and a softer set of rights that were a grippier better tire that you could go faster on. But there's no fall off. There was no wear. And so with the control tire that we had, we would have some fall off, but you could kind of recover your fall off if you just took it easy for a couple laps and let it cool back down and then re attacked and we went so they're falling off more due to heat than they're falling off due to wear so I think we missed on the tire selection that that we had there. We didn't gain anything on the tire.”
What can you take away from last year’s race for this weekend?
“I feel like last year's race will lend itself into a little bit of this year. I say that because the track really widened out nicely and this car does not like to trail another car and follow so you're going to need options you're going need different groups that you can go run in so with last year's race really widening the track. Hopefully, the same thing will happen this time around.”
Did you feel like you had a good handle on the track last year?
“Yes and no. You know with this car and with the mile-and-a-halves that we've been to this year, the Gibbs guys, us, we've been fast and we've shown good speed. But at some of the flatter shorter track, we haven't shown great speed, but I would say besides Gateway was a good offset for us so it just kind of depends on what this place ends up racing like -- a mile-and-a-half or a short track. We’ll find out in about an hour.”
Do you expect a good crowd for this race again like we had last year?
“Yeah, I mean, as far as the crowd count, I would hope so. You know, I would like to think that having a race in a market once per year is the optimum time for people to come out and enjoy your race and have a great weekend. The campgrounds, from what I saw driving in, look decent. So I would like to think that they all turn out and if they do, that's great. I think that goes to just prove the point that you know many of these places only need one date, that they can make it successful off of that.”
How close do you follow the Xfinity Series now that you don’t race in it anymore?
“I follow it zero, no idea what's going on there. Besides Ty Gibbs. I guess that's it.”
How did Joe Gibbs Racing struggle at Sonoma after being decent at COTA?
“Yeah, I mean, we struggled at COTA as well to be honest with raw speed and being able to be good there. You know, in the early stage of the race, I think we were running eighth, we were fading, I got spun out by Chase Elliott running 12th, you know what I mean? So we weren't great at COTA either, but we were able to get through some of the restarts and get positions on guys to get ourselves up front. Christopher (Bell), I think was third or fourth. I was right with him on the last lap there. And so you know, felt like with everything that kind of ensued on the last lap, we would have had a shot to run in the top two or three, for sure. But I would say both road course events so far this year, were not our strong suit. Why we missed it? I don't know. If I could answer that, we wouldn't struggle, we wouldn't we wouldn't have been bad. But talking to Martin Truex (Jr.), who tested for us at the Glen, certainly not looking forward to going into Glen either. They weren't very fast there.”
Is missing it as an organization at one track and hitting it at others just a function of this new Next Gen race car?
“A little bit. I would argue to that the Penske guys weren't great at Kansas. But like you said, they've been super strong at the flatter tracks. They're really fast at Martinsville, Phoenix. They've been good. They were good at Gateway as well. too. They qualified really strong so far packages, it seems that these teams or organizations kind of have that they're good at these particular tracks. And so I think as we all continue to learn and grow like the good teams will be the good teams everywhere. But you know, it is kind of patchy, right now with just getting an understanding built around this car.”
How hard is it to recover at Road America if you miss a corner?
“The big straightaway corners it's important yeah, like you know missing turn three I think it's called and then going down along back there. That's important. That's a big deal. Obviously, the last corner I think it's 13 or 14 coming up along from straightaway. So those can be detrimental to lap time for sure. Because you're just losing time by the distance in which it takes to get up to speed so you really want to be strong on those turns.”
With Atlanta being one of the first tracks to return to with this car, do you expect to be stronger there next month?
“I felt like we were one of the stronger cars there earlier this year. We just didn't get to showcase it. You know, we got behind Austin Dillon early in the race. He got loose and spun out and we wrecked. So you know we had a little bit of an issue there at the start of the race just being too loose balance wise, but I felt like we would have been able to work on that as the day progressed and gotten better with it. So you know are a couple of our teammates were up there towards the end of the race, Christopher (Bell) got penalized for finishing second. I think Bubba (Wallace) was up real tight real close had a shot from the win, crashed on the last lap. So I mean, it's a speedway race it's going to happen, but you'd like to be in position at least all the way to the end.”
Do you focus in on certain tracks for testing with the Playoffs coming up or just getting track time with this car?
“Anywhere there's an opportunity to test you want to work on your car make it better, right so like I got selected to do Martinsville. Hopefully we've learned something got a little bit better. I felt like the first day we were a little behind the 2 car and second day we were equal in the 2 car which is a positive you know, I felt like we made gains there. And then yeah, that's the second last race of the year and then of course Gateway you'd like to think okay, we were better at Gateway that'll hopefully show that we're better at Phoenix when we go there. But I think another test of that will be Loudon. And so you know, we're still, you do work from the back of the season forward. Obviously, you know, the most important race being the last one and trying to figure out what it takes to get to that championship race while being eligible is very important.”
Were you at North Wilkesboro Speedway for the filming of the Toyota ‘Aliens’ commercial?
“It wasn't photoshopped. That was real. There's a real alien abduction. No, I never been inside the race track before that was my first time inside. I've only ever really driven by it. So that was my first time in it. It's obviously got some age on it, you know, a bunch of the amenities and everything are quite rundown. They are quite proud of the fact that the lift still works though. Victory Lane lift, which is cool. But you know, to give that thing a facelift to get it back ready to good. And it can be successful and it can turn into something nice. So I'm looking forward to it. If they put something there. I think it would be sweet. I know from my understanding anyways, I know Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) is looking forward to running a late model stock race if he can. And so, you know, it'd be nice to see that place come back to life and whether it's an All-Star race or a Truck race or Xfinity, whatever you know, I think that we can make something happen there for sure.”