KYLE BUSCH, DRIVER OF THE NO. 8 RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING CAMARO ZL1 AND NO. 7 SPIRE MOTORSPORTS SILVERADO RST, met with the media in advance of racing double duty in the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series at Darlington Raceway.

Media Availability Quotes: 

If you had not spun and you weren’t the caution last weekend, are you making decisions now to win a race, or do you have to play the points considering where you’re at in the standings?

“I would say that we would go for the win and make the decision based off of trying to get that. We were in the fourth position – man, that would have been really, really hard for us to choose only two tires with that many laps on the left. So I think we would have taken four, which ultimately would have put us a little too far back because four didn’t win, right? That would have been the call, but obviously it wasn’t the one needed to win the race. We need to think about that and put ourselves in that position had we not been the caution.”

What do you think it is about this car that has taken you awhile to get acclimated to? When you were at Joe Gibbs Racing the first year of the car, we just assumed they were not giving you the best equipment, I guess might be the fair way to say it, since you were a lame duck at that point. You had a successful season last year with three wins, and I’m just kind of curious – just from what you told us, you seem to stumble a little bit with the car, in general?

“Yeah, I mean I think the better piece that you have at the racetrack, it’s going to mask a lot of things. It’s going to make your job easier and the opportunity of going out there and getting strong finishes or wins a lot easier. Some guys have done a better job of that. We were leading, I think twice, and had engine failures in the final races of the JGR cars. And then last year, we were good out of the gate. We had some good stuff, and then as times have changed, the setups have evolved and guys have found how to make their stuff go faster. We just haven’t been able to do that.

It looked good the last two weeks. I felt like the last two weeks at Dover (Motor Speedway) and Kansas (Speedway), we were respectable; contenders and much closer. That was a nice change of pace. We were consistent top-five runners. Being a consistent top-five runner; get those top-five finishes and then that consistency will build into putting yourself in the right place, at the right time, in the end of these races to get a win.”

Inaudible..

“It definitely drives different than the old car. What that is, I’m not exactly sure. I mean it seems – when you lean into the corner and the right-front is outside the right-rear, the car is much tighter. When you get to the center off of the corner and the right-front is inside the right-rear coming downhill, it’s much looser. And so trying to find that balance of that has been difficult.. trying to get that right. But the old car didn’t have that sensation. It was easy to just make a smooth corner and have the balance stay the same the whole time, where now I feel like I’m fighting many more balance issues. And on top of fighting those balance issues by yourself, throw in the aero deficiencies that you have in traffic and now you’re just confused. You think that you’re going to expect it to do one thing, and it does something else and you lose a tenth of a second because you’re trying to garner that feel of what it is. We’re literally all grasping at half of a tenth of a second to be the best car on the racetrack. Many of our pace studies that come out after these races – two-tenths is the difference between first and 25th. So you’re literally grasping at very small gains to move yourself up that pylon.”

Is there this confusion – and I can’t related because I don’t have your experience, but is this type of confusion anything that you’ve gone through at any point of your career with different types of cars, or is this a new realm of an experience in that sense?

“No, this is all new – a new realm of confusion. I think the last time we had this much confusion was when we had the high downforce package on the Cup cars – the old Cup car where you didn’t know if you wanted to be the downforce guy or the less drag guy at the different racetracks, you know. So like, I think (Martin) Truex (Jr.), if I remember right, like they poured all the downforce on his cars and he was fast his way, and they made Denny’s (Hamlin) cars less drag and he was fast that way. So it was like – OK but which way is the way, you know? I think that was the last time I was confused. But that’s just car build stuff, not even lap-to-lap as you’re going through the turns with your balance issues and aero issues that you have.”

Looking ahead to the All-Star Race, you were the winner the one year they had the option tire. I know it didn’t work as well as everyone hoped back then, but what’s your hopes and thoughts about this idea of going back to an option tire and trying this again? What would the signs be that it works, or even if it doesn’t work, it’s still worth looking forward and moving forward on?

“Yeah, I mean I think it’s definitely something interesting. You know, I feel like – the last time, we all kind of put it on at the same time, so there was no difference in putting it on, right? So this time, I feel like we’re probably all going to strategize the same way again. Like there’s not that many different ways that you can skin the same cat to figure out how to win these races. You know, it’s no different than every Sunday, right? Every Sunday, you’re going to split the first stage. You’re going to split the second stage. You’re either going to split the third stage, or you’re going to two-stint the third stage. Like it’s spelled out.. there’s no thinking at all anymore to strategy. So like, I’ve made the suggestion years ago and they’ve skipped right over it – in one ear and out the other – of find or make a defined number at some of these racetracks. If it’s 75 laps green and you want to go 75 laps green.. when the green flag falls, we’re going 75 laps green. And if no caution comes, you throw a caution. OK and then the clock resets – we go 75 laps again, but then there’s no caution in the last 50, 25 or whatever laps. So that throws some strategy into things, and that would give the crew chiefs, if we had option tires at all these other races, like – hey, do we want to run the option tire for 75 laps here? Will it make it 75 laps, that’s another question.. you know, and how all of that would look. That would definitely throw some more options into these races, where right now, it’s all the same, man. It’s so cookie-cutter that it’s all the same.”

Regarding the 75 laps – you’re potentially going to have natural cautions..

“You start over.. the clock starts over, right? It’s kind of like the caution clock, except it’s just laps. It’s defined by laps. So you start the race green and you go 75 laps. If there’s no natural caution, you throw one, right? And then if there’s a caution at lap 50, once it goes green again, you’re going 75 green again, you know? But at least there’s not a set and defined pit strategy at that point, in my opinion.”

A lot of talk recently about the future of the engine in the Cup Series.. abandoning pushrod V8’s and bringing in some kind of hybrid technology. Is there optimism that maybe that could get the horsepower back up like a lot of drivers, including yourself, have advocated for over the past few years?

“Sure.. just depends on what they build it to, you know? There’s plenty of engine opportunities that are out there. There are superchargers. There’s the electrification piece that could be used. I’ve heard that ours would only be under caution and not used under green, so what is the horsepower that we would utilize under green? Could it happen that overhead cam engines come to the Cup Series and they’re less than 650 horsepower.. boy, that would be a detriment (laughs). Definitely we would advocate for more, it’s just a matter of who’s going to listen.”

When you spun out there at the end of the race last weekend, was that just pushing too hard or did something happen?

“Yeah, so I had smoked the tires. I had gotten really loose about six laps prior to that, and I was running the top and I was just barely hanging on. And then I went to the bottom and I found a little bit of pace around the bottom, and that’s when I got by Kyle Larson. And then, I don’t know if it was a lap or two later, I just kept trying to maximize my speed, knowing that we were falling off and I didn’t want to lose any more positions to anybody behind me. I just over pushed it. I came in and they said the whole right-rear was just feathered, and Kyle’s right-front was corded, splitting and unraveling. We both just smoked our tires. I think it’s a little bit weird that he smoked a right-front and I smoked a right-rear. I would think opposite of that, right?”

Inaudible..

“It could be just the balance that you had at that particular time of the race. Like we had been trying to free up the second-half of the race and I felt really neutral. And honestly that whole run, like I felt like I was trying to stay under the tire and not over push because it was going to be one of our longest runs to end the race. When the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) and the No. 17 (Chris Buescher) were racing really hard for the lead and I was in third, I was just like – you guys burn your stuff up… you guys do what you have to do. This is fun.. I’m going to watch for a second and you’re going to come right back to me. And so I was just hanging out.. like I didn’t even want to get in the fray. And then I don’t know, it was about 15 laps later and I wasn’t getting any closer to them. I started slipping in different ways and I’m like – hmmm alright.. I’m not going to get a payoff for trying to take care of my tires here (laughs).”

Is running the Truck Race fun for you? Do you like doing that kind of stuff when you can these days? Can it help with what you do on Sunday? And also, this year with the “Throwback Weekend”, they’re celebrating grassroots racing and things like that. How important is that still to get that path from when you’re running around as a 10 or 11 year old to making it to the big series?

“I enjoy the truck stuff. It’s a lot of fun for me. It’s still the same group of people on my truck that I worked with last year at KBM, so thanks to the Spire Motorsports guys for giving me the five races they did this year to get out there and get some track time. For here at Darlington (Raceway), I think it’s – I wouldn’t say you need it, but it is helpful to just kind of get out there to learn and build a comfort with the fence; where you’re at, how close, the speed and just getting the feel for that. So being able to do all of that tonight with the truck and then get into a Cup car tomorrow, I think you’ll fire off a little bit faster, you know? Beside that, I don’t know that you learn much more than that. Just the comfort of where the wall is.

And then you look at the grassroots effect and all of that – that’s what drives our sport, really. I mean it could be driven from the top down, of course, with the Cup Series and everything that it is. But there’s obviously a dream that these younger guys and gals have to make it to the top and they want to get there one day and they come from the grassroots level. For support that certain companies put into the grassroots levels, I’m grateful of that. It’s really neat that Brexton has the companies that he has that are helping him. And then of course too, with others across the country – I know the Toyota dirt program has been very instrumental in a lot of those drivers coming up into here and getting here. You see a little bit more of Chevrolet on some of the stuff, as well too, with grassroots racing and the dirt stuff, so that’s been fun to see. But yeah, it’s always cool to have the “Throwback Weekend” in Darlington. Excited about seeing some of the schemes out there.”

GM PR