CHEVROLET NCS AT TEXAS: Kyle Busch Media Availability Quotes
It’s been a great week for you because your son, Brexton, is racing over at little Texas. From a parent standpoint, how exciting is it to see him race against these competitive drivers? And secondly, given how Texas is such a tricky track, what are some of the keys in getting around here successfully?
“Yeah, I mean it’s definitely been fun to come out to Texas a little early and have some dirt track action out on the backstretch there Thursday night and last night, as well. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a good night last night for Brexton – something in the engine quit running and shut him off. But we won the first night, so that gives us a decent starting spot for him for tonight, but it could have been a lot better. Wish we were able to finish yesterday.
And then, as far as Texas (Motor Speedway) goes with the new configuration a couple of years ago - it really changed the dynamic of Texas a lot with how you drive it and what you do to get around here and what makes it fast. It’s really tricky in turns one and two – knowing where to lift and knowing how much to arc out the corner. You’ve got to get down to the bottom, and then how soon do you get back to the throttle to drive up off the corner and clear the wall on exit. So there’s just a lot of different variables down there. But three and four is still old Texas, per say - just a little bit more action down there with the bumps and such, especially with this new car. You run lower to the ground anyways, you run stiffer, so it already kind of reacts to those bumps a lot more than the old car did. But yeah, just try to be as fast as you can. You want to try and make that turn two exit back to that turn one entry as long of a straightaway as you can and stay in the gas in three and four as much as you can.”
Last Sunday, NASCAR announced that the Mexico Series is going to join you guys at the Clash next year. Just how important is it to have that crossover with an international series to showcase one of those series that you don’t really have that crossover with on a weekly basis?
“Yeah, I think that’s cool. I think we had a little bit of that crossover a couple of years ago at Phoenix (Raceway), they were there. But other than that, we haven’t seen much of the Mexico series, so that will be cool. Daniel Suarez spent a lot of time there in that series. I know there’s a few other drivers that are coming up through the ranks that have been in that series. One of those guys at Rev Racing with Max Siegel’s team in the ARCA Series, and then also Max Gutierrez, I think is his name, is another one that’s there. So yeah, there’s some notable names that I’ve heard of that’s come through there. It would be nice to get them some more recognition on a bigger stage.”
How do you feel about this round? You look at your stats – you won at Talladega Superspeedway, but plate races are plate races. Road courses, you’ve been up and down. Do you have any clue whether you’re going to be good in this round or not?
“Realistically, I mean I have no clue. I have high confidence here, just based off of how the No. 8 Chevy was here last year, and how the No. 24 Chevy was here last year. So we based most of our stuff off of that – just kind of jump in and go, and hopefully it’s good, fast and it’s where we need it to be. And then with Talladega (Superspeedway), it’s a crap shoot.. it’s luck. Go read my post-race presser – I can’t tell you how many times I probably said ‘we just got lucky today’, you know what I mean. And then with the (Charlotte) ROVAL, last year, I ran third there. There was a tire strategy at the end – we took tires and we were able to make it work for us. I feel like our road course program this year has been strong. Our results at Watkins Glen (International) weren’t indicative of that because of coming to pit road, the light turning on, having to go back out, cycling to the back, not being able to pass as well as you want to come back up through. So yeah, just lots of stuff. I would like to think that normal races, normal circumstances, we can make it through this round.”
Is there any different feeling for you in the playoffs, so far, compared to when you were at Joe Gibbs Racing? I think everybody expected you to challenge year in and year out, and here, there were a lot of questions going into the year. Is there any different – I don’t want to say pressure, but a different feeling about this playoff run versus others?
“Yeah, to your point, the pressure is always there. As a JGR or an HMS guy, you’re expected to transfer through – make it through and be in contention for the final four spots. And so, probably where I’m at, I think the Round of 16, a lot of people had us out. And so the Round of 12, I’m sure there’s going to be a lot more that will probably have us out. Honestly, it’s just as simple as winning at Texas (Motor Speedway) and winning at Las Vegas (Motor Speedway) and you’re going to Phoenix (Raceway), you know what I mean. That’s all we can really focus on right now – what’s in front of us and this weekend is Texas. We’ll go out here with it being hot and sunny and go get the most we can.”
Being at RCR and looking back on the season, did you expect the success and the things that have gone your way so far this year with the No. 8 team?
“I would not have expected as good as we fired off – almost winning the Clash, almost winning the Daytona 500 and winning Fontana (Auto Club Speedway). I felt like that was a really, really good kick in the pants, and just an awesome feeling to be able to come over to a new team, a new organization, and have the opportunity to go out there and run that well and run that strong. There’s been a lot of ups and downs since then. We won, convincingly, at Gateway. We got lucky and won at Talladega. So we’ve got three wins on the year, which is great. But there’s been a lot of races where we’ve had top-five cars and something happened and not get a chance to show that. And then there’s been races where we haven’t had top-five cars and we finished top-five because we just stretched it out, made a pit call or something like that to get some spots. I feel like everybody is kind of that way though. There’s just so many variables and difference that you really don’t control your own destiny with this car as much as you used to. And so I think it’s a lot more equal, there’s a lot more parity. So when you do get drug down, it’s hard to make your way back up that ladder and it’s getting increasingly more difficult as guys figure this thing out.”
Can you talk about Kurt’s retirement and how he’s been since making that announcement?
“Yeah, I mean honestly, I haven’t seen him a lot. I feel like it was a burden kind of weighing on him, a lot of people always asking him. It’s like when you first get married - it’s like people asking you when you’re going to have kids, you know what I mean. So it’s like everybody asking Kurt – well when are you going to get back into the car.. when are you going to get back in the car. So you just kind of have to get it out there, make that announcement. I feel like it was a weight off of his shoulders. I feel like he’s a bit more relaxed now that he can try to figure out what his next steps are and what he wants to do. I think he talked about that.. going and running some different forms of racing and not long, 500 mile events, like the NASCAR Cup Series is. Also, his dedication to all the teams that he’s been with, and now being with 23XI - he works within there and does a lot of consulting stuff and whatnot. So it’s good for him to have something to do, but he’s got some sponsor stuff that he always takes care of, as well. He’s just busy.. living what he can right now. Probably just trying to collect a check (laughs).”
Back in January at the COTA tire test, you were asked about your persona coming over to Richard Childress Racing. And if you recall, you said you wore the black hat for a reason.. there needs to be excitement on and off the track. This year, you’re hearing cheers. Denny Hamlin is now the villain. I’m just curious, is villainhood in your rear view? What do you make of all of this change?
“I’m sure I can put myself right back into that category real easy (laughs). It only takes something spectacular to do. But yeah, I mean it’s different, right? I don’t know that I’ve ever been in this spot because when I first came into this sport, my brother had made a lot of enemies, both on and off the race track, and so I was kind of thrown into that right off the bat. But it’s been good to just kind of get a different light, be in a different light. And it’s been fun over at RCR. A lot of people have just kind of told me how much excitement there is around that, and me being a part of the No. 8 car, with RCR and everybody over there. Yeah, just keep rolling with it. When you’re in that spot like I was, and I guess Denny (Hamlin) is, you have to do what Denny is doing. It’s perfect.. you have to play with it, go with it, roll with it and egg them on. I mean I did it – there were so many quotes in the years past when I was talking about Jr. Nation and other stuff. Trust me, you’re never going to win those battles.. they’re hard, hard, hard to win. But I guess it makes you feel better inside.. it makes you feel bigger to say stuff like that. It’s fun to watch.”
There’s some rumors that this race will go from its current date in September to April. Obviously the schedule has been delayed a little bit. Given this weekend, both days are going to be 100 degrees, do you feel like April would be more preferable to have a race, or are you fine with this current date?
“Yeah, I mean for whatever reason, say it for what it is.. speak the truth – Texas (Motor Speedway) has been very lack-luster lately. So being a playoff race, I’m not sure that we’re indicative of that. I’ve actually seen a lot of people say that it shouldn’t be on the calendar, period. All of us drivers would highly, highly, highly not want it to be reconfigured again into an Atlanta-style race track, but I hear rumblings of that’s where it’s heading. So that wouldn’t be fun. But yeah, I think the heat – if you strictly talk about weather, the heat and stuff like that - look I give NASCAR fans all the credit in the world because they are a damn strong bunch. They are passionate and they are loving to our sport as much as we want them to be. But to be out in the 100 degree heat in aluminum grandstands, I’m not paying to do that. I’m getting paid to do that (laughs). So I give them credit where credit is due. That’s what it’s all about. You can talk about TV and everything else, but it’s all about putting people in the grandstands. If we have empty crowds, we’re not going to be on TV. Get people in the stands and make it easier for them.”
Since drivers may not want this as a playoff date, are there certain tracks where like – this should be in playoffs.. this should not be, or is it relatively interchangeable with the tracks that are currently there?
“No, I think it’s interchangeable. I think we’ve all kind of talked about how Phoenix (Raceway) needs to be moved around and not be the final race every year. So for me to say what race track should be in the final 10, I’m not going to pick because I really don’t care. I think it’s just a matter of what works; what tracks you kind of need and what mixture you need to be in there. You need some intermediates. You need a superspeedway, a road course, you need some of that stuff. You need variety, so yeah I wouldn’t pick, necessarily.”
You first started racing at 13 years old and you look at how many more kids are racing at a younger age. What do you see in that sense? If you were starting at 13 now, could you have moved up the ranks like you did? Is there still that place for someone who comes in late, or is it if you’re not racing at seven, nine, 10 years old, you’re not going to be able to make it because you just don’t have the laps?
“No, I think William Byron bunks that, right?”
I mean that was 10 years ago..
“Yeah, no I’m with you. He started at 13 years old, I believe, in legend cars or something like that. And so he was a late start, kind of like me.
You ask Joey Logano and he said he wouldn’t start his kid young. I think there was somebody that wrote something with what he said. But honestly, I think if your kids want to do it and just go out there and have fun and you don’t push them too hard early on, then let them go do it. That’s what we did with Brexton. I was pushy on him to get him better than what we were when we first started. But honestly, I think everything that we’ve done, he’s come so far and has been a really good listener and his growth of how fast he’s been in all the different things that he drives has been cool to watch. It’s only going to get tougher as you get older. Kids racing against kids – yeah, if your kid is really, really good, they’re going to win a lot like we do. But as we get older and as we get into other classes – right now, he’s eight years old and racing against 16 year olds, so it’s only going to get tougher as you get higher.. the competition, the cars, everything.
I think 10, 11, 12, you could probably get started around that age and still make it. I don’t see a problem in that. Obviously money and a name is going to take you there a lot faster than being a nobody with no money.. it’s just a fact. So I think there’s a lot of drivers out there that I get to see racing with Brexton that do have the potential and could make it someday. It’s just a matter of if they’ll ever get seen and picked up.”
You referenced the heat earlier. Is there a point where it’s too hot to compete? Are there any other extra precautions you take for a weekend like this?
“I don’t know how to answer that question. I don’t know if there’s ever ‘too hot’, but like Gateway this year, I think we saw a couple of people in the grandstands that had to be taken out of the grandstands because it was too hot.. had a heat stroke or something. I think we saw that the first year at Gateway. I think it was 98-99 degrees, the track was coming apart and everything else. People were falling out of the grandstands. Heat is sometimes a dangerous thing, right? These cars are really hot. We’re in 140-150 degree cockpit temperatures, so it gets warm out there, for sure. But you have to be conditioned for it, for us, to withstand that. And a lot of us are, so I feel like our bodies are more accustomed to that than some others.”
How would perceive your career evolution in the past 20 years, in terms of what you experienced both as a person and as a driver?
“Wait for my book.. I’m not writing a book (laughs).
I don’t know, just everything, right? Just learning, growth and figuring things out - whether it’s in life, on the race track, working, work ethic, professionalism, all that sort of stuff. I’m not professional anyways at speaking, so hard for me to say exactly. I’ve done a lot of really cool things and been fortunate in the positions I’ve been in. I’ve had a lot of great experiences and have won a lot of races; won a lot of championships and it’s been amazing. To me, I feel like since having a family and things like that, it’s been really fun on that front to kind of learn, see perspective from a different set of eyes. That’s been really, really cool with my growth and who I’ve become the last few years. Just excited for the future.. still of what’s ahead. Like I said earlier, a lot of dumb stuff in the past. You learn from those and you try to better yourself forward, and I feel like a lot of that has happened.”
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