NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES: DUEL #2
February 22, 2013INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
KERRY THARP: Let's hear from the winner of our second Duel here today at Daytona. That driver is Kyle Busch. He's joined by his crew chief Dave Rogers and team owner Coach Joe Gibbs. This is Kyle's second Budweiser Duel victory. He also won in 2009.
The average speed of the race today 193.966 miles per hour, the second fastest Duel race in history.
Kyle, congratulations. Good to see you back in Victory Lane. Maybe talk about how this propels you now into Sunday's race, the 55th running of the Daytona 500.
KYLE BUSCH: This is certainly a huge confidence boost just for our team, you know, being able to set the momentum in the right direction at the start of the season.
I appreciate Dave Rogers, all the guys on this Joe Gibbs Racing team, everybody back at the shop working hard this winter building these cars, getting these things going, bringing some fast Toyota Camrys down to Daytona. It's cool to have myself Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth with some fast Camrys.
Today was just one of those days where you had to really be patient, kind of let things play out a little bit, see how things were going to go.
Patience wore thin, I don't know, probably lap 40 or so. Tried to make a move to the bottom side. Everybody was kind of checking up on the top lane, rolling out of the gas a little bit to make sure they get in the corner securely. I thought maybe I could make a move to the bottom, if I can, I can side draft somebody and kind of pull them back a little bit to get a gap for them so I can slide back in line. But just didn't happen.
It was unfortunate that we all ran kind of single file around the top, but that's where the momentum set in and where everything kind of lied out. It was on from there to see what would happen coming to pit road, throughout the rest of the race.
KERRY THARP: Dave, talk about some of the adjustments you have made to this No.18 Toyota Camry since you unloaded here last week.
DAVE ROGERS: The guys back at the shop have done a great job building this 2000 Toyota Camry. It's been fast since we unloaded, our best qualifying time in some time. We haven't really had to work on it. We sat out yesterday at practice. Had a fairly easy time at Speedweeks. The car has good speed. We'll see if that can carry over to Sunday and see what we can do with it.
KERRY THARP: Coach Joe Gibbs, certainly has to be a good feeling to have Kyle back in Victory Lane, certainly the other cars in your stable have been strong here at Daytona. Talk about the performance of the 18 and the rest of your cars so far.
JOE GIBBS: I think Dave laid out a good game plan for this race. He did a real good job. Of course, Kyle was great.
I think the teammate, Matt, we really tried to help. I think he just kind of got caught up in a few things there and couldn't get in the right spot at the end.
I think Dave also said, it's the first time our cars have all qualified in a long time up there. It's been a long time we all qualified in the top 10. I thought that was great. I just felt like it was a great day for us.
Appreciate Toyota. Obviously been calling a bunch of the guys at Mars. It's a big deal for us, a big day.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions now.
Q. Kyle, you may have made a little bit of history yourself today. May be the last guy to win one of these things in the daylight now that they've decided to run these races at night. What is your reaction to that?
KYLE BUSCH: That's a good point. You know, I don't know. I'm a fan of the day race actually, just being able to come down here on Thursday and be able to put in a good day's work, relax kind of the rest of the night.
Now we get to dwell on the day a little bit more and have to wait till the sun goes down to be able to race at night.
Could be for bigger things, bigger, better things. Who knows.
Obviously with today being Thursday, a lot of people are at work. Not a lot of people get the opportunity to tune in. If they're moving it to an evening race, kind of a twilight race, it will be cool for TV if it goes on FOX, it's on in the evening hours. Maybe that means bigger, better things, more ratings for us, which makes our sport bigger and better.
Q. Your spotter Tony said he didn't think the Chevrolets had anything for the Toyotas the way you guys were all lined up. Kahne pulled the inside. He looked pretty sporty. You had a short experience on Saturday night. From what you got to see from Harvick then and Harvick in the first Duel, do you have something for him on Sunday?
KYLE BUSCH: I think it's just a matter of whoever gets out front, to be honest with you. I hate to say that. These cars so far have shown it's a little bit harder to pass the leader, especially if you're the guy that's on the topside.
Today we showed it again in the second Duel race. Jeff Gordon chose the top, even though he was supposed to be on the pole, chose the outside lane. Him and I, we got going a little bit better than the inside lane. Kasey kind of moved up then. I don't remember what happened, but I went low because I thought he would run low, but he stayed up high to get behind Jeff. I got shuffled out a little bit.
It's all circumstantial. If you can keep the good restrictor plate guys like Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, if you can keep those guys out of the lead, it might be anybody's race. But anytime you get a good, smart racer up there like that, it's going to be hard to beat 'em.
Q. Kyle, Kevin Harvick was saying the racing is almost identical to the way it was in 2003. I know that predates you a little bit. Do you have any sense of that? Do you think veterans such as him have an advantage because they know what it was like back then?
KYLE BUSCH: A little bit. But maybe not so much. You know, you get a lot of experience and you get to be able to pick up on things quite quickly.
I thought that this car was not that big of a handful, not that hard to drive. We see people out here having a hard time with it, spinning out, crashing in practice left and right. You sometimes scratch your head and wonder what they're doing, why they're having issues.
Things have gone well for us. Like I said, Dave brought a great 2013 Toyota Camry down here for me to drive. Everything has been going good for us.
Yeah, we see a little bit of pre?COT era with this car, but we'll have to continue on working and making this stuff better, making it faster. All that stuff comes from the shop, though. There's not much we're going to get to do down here.
Q. Kyle, can you get a sense with only half the field in each race on who your strongest competition is going to be, or is all truly just track position?
KYLE BUSCH: With more cars out there, we might see it be a little bit different come Sunday. There were half the field in each race obviously.
I think there's going to be a lot more good cars. I should say it this way. There's going to be twice as many good cars, twice as many middle?of?the?pack cars, twice as many back?of?the?pack cars. If you can get your car handling, driving, feeling good, you'll be able to be one of the guys that's up front. I feel that's where we're at. That's an added bonus for us right now.
Some other guys I seen out there today, they were a little squirrelly, moving around a little bit more than I'd like to see, I'm sure more than they'd like to feel.
Come race time, if we're able to get more racing going on, more side?by?side action going on, two?lane, three?lane stuff going, you'll see handling playing more of a role, you might see more separation between some more cars, which if that's the case, it's a double?edged sword. You'll see it single file out again because there's not enough cars to make a pack.
I'm not sure how confusing I just made that all, but I probably did a pretty good job (smiling).
Q. Kyle, Montoya and Biffle were saying that this car, you pull up behind somebody to their bumper, it just stalls, almost wants to recoil. We saw with your own teammate Kenseth Saturday night. Seemed like the car would just stop. Can that be overcome? Is this going to be an issue that needs to be sorted out with this car, especially at plate tracks?
KYLE BUSCH: I think what's going on with that is just we saw a little bit of that in the first race. There were some guys that were three?wide. You can kind of see the middle lane really, really go, then it would stall out all at once, then kind of suck them back.
Basically it's the air off the windshield that's dumping on the rear spoiler. The cars in the side draft get hurt so much more than what they used to. I think it's because our windshield angles, if you look at the car from the top view, over the roof on the windshield, it's kind of flat. The windshield is flatter, where the old car had a bow to it and was rounder. So the air was able to round the car before it actually dumped on your neighbor's car. This car, it just shoots it right onto your neighbor's car.
That's my opinion anyway. I cannot be an aero genius, but maybe I am (smiling).
If you want to get rid of that, take the rear spoiler off of that. I think all of us drivers would be crying to NASCAR to give us the spoiler back.
Q. Although the issues are different with this car, can you honestly say that this car does not have as many teething pains and issues to resolve at this stage as the COT did at that time?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, we're at a restrictor plate track where a lot of different circumstances come into play than at a Bristol or Loudon, or California, besides a restrictor plate track.
I'm also seven years older, a little bit wiser in choosing my words as well. So far I think things are good. This car, it's fun to drive. We've gone to the mile?and?a?half stuff. Pretty cool to drive there. A lot of speed because they put a lot of downforce in it. We'll have to see how it races.
There's still a lot of unknowns. We're still in week one and a half. It will be week two come Sunday.
Q. Kyle, you mentioned how it's good for team chemistry. There was a lot of heat on Dave when you didn't make the Chase for the pit strategy at Richmond. Today you make the right call and gets you into Victory Lane. Has that helped that? Does it show that you do belong together and why?
KYLE BUSCH: I think it's one thing called 'racing'. I mean, I'll spell it, SH*T happens. It's just the product of what you get sometimes with this sport. Last year we had a lot of things that were out of my control and out of Dave's control. It came down to Richmond, it came down to a call where we messed up and missed the Chase.
Dave and I looked at each other the following week, said we have to punch forward, move forward. We ran the best 10 weeks we had all year in the last 10 weeks of the series.
You're going to have good days like this. This is obviously one of those moments where you pat the guy on the back, say, Good job, then you got to do it again.
It's just a matter of being able to continue on, work hard, believe in each other, keep putting the trophies at Joe Gibbs Racing.
Q. Besides stalling, the drivers who came in earlier talked about staying in line. Is more cars on the track going to make a difference on Sunday? How do you get out of line and move ahead without good partners?
KYLE BUSCH: That's a good question. It's hard to answer right now without being able to get more cars out there.
We did have, what was it, 18, 19 cars at the start of the Unlimited. We wrecked a few. Then it was about a 12? 15?car race. Today you start out with 21, 22, whatever it is, in each race.
What you saw, though, was some good cars kind of single filed out, separated themselves from another pack, from another pack. You saw some separation going on.
So with more cars, you know, you'll see, like I said earlier, a bigger good pack, bigger middle pack. Once handling comes into play, you see separation, I don't know how big that pack is going to be. If it's going to be six or eight cars, that's still going to be a problem to race side?by?side and race each other. If it's a pack of 16, 18, then it might work.
Q. Kyle, we've had a couple of instances with this car where drivers who were close side?by?side, one of the cars has gotten out of shape. Do you think that's a problem with the individual car or driver or something about this particular car design that's helping to cause that?
KYLE BUSCH: It's about the car. There's something weird going on with the aero stuff of the car. Sometimes, you know, you can be fighting a little bit of a snug issue or a tight issue through the corner, then all of a sudden the back jumps out, the whole car is out of the racetrack.
It's once you break traction in either tire, it seems like it's really hard to get that back. The car takes off on you. I think we saw that a little bit with the 11. He was kind of in the no man's land perfect situation, where you don't want to be, behind somebody and having a guy on your inside kind of at your left rear.
We saw that with Newman and Carl in practice. I think those are some of the things that you see with this car so far, is just the insecurity, the stability issues sometimes in traffic. That might be we all run single file because we're scared to run side?by?side. I don't know. I was ready to put on a show, but I didn't have enough people around me to make one happen.
Q. Dave, we've heard everything what Kyle thinks about what happened today. We haven't heard anything from your perspective. From everything you saw, both on the track, on your computers and everything, what did you see today? How much of what you saw today will have an effect on Sunday?
DAVE ROGERS: Yeah, I sit back here and listen. To me, it just sounds like NASCAR gave our fans what they wanted, right? They didn't want bump?drafting. Our fans voted they didn't want bump?drafts, two?car tandems, cars to pass. It looks lies NASCAR did a great job of working with the manufacturers to give us cars like that.
It looks like they're tough to draft out there. It looks like the drivers have to have their timing just right, they have to be really aware of the cars around them, very precise. I think that's the word Kevin Harvick used. That's what it looks like from the pit box. These drivers have to be extremely precise behind the wheel in order to make passes.
I think that's what the fans want to see. I think they want to see some good racing and watch these very talented drivers work their butts off on Sunday.
I think they got what they wanted. I'm excited. I think it's going to be a good day.
Q. Kyle, after the Nationwide race at Homestead, you said it was unquestionably the worst year of your entire career. I know this is just one 150?mile qualifying race. Your mood seems lighter. How do you move forward, give yourself some momentum and not repeat last year?
KYLE BUSCH: That's a great question.
I mean, we had a great Budweiser Shootout last year, Sprint Unlimited this year, in 2012, which we won. We were able to go to Victory Lane. It was a great night for us. Started out the year with a bang, had Miss Brown and all that and everything else. Then it kind of just went down the line.
We had a good month the end of April and May, had some top fives, ran strong, thought things were going in the right direction. Then had three problems right in a row right after that.
You know, yeah, I mean, your mood's going to be related to how your racing's going. This is my life. This is what I do. I don't do anything else. This my life. This is my livelihood, my wife's livelihood. To be able to put the food on the table for ourselves, but all of the rest at Joe Gibbs Racing. If we don't come out here and run competitive, we're all going to be looking for something else to do.
Q. Coach, Richard Childress knows that Harvick is leaving, but Harvick comes out and wins two races. From a car owner's perspective, what is that like?
JOE GIBBS: No, I think what you got is great competitors. I think they look at it that way. You don't want to certainly waste a year. You want to get a chance to race cars at the top level. I think there's a competitive part of it.
You know, you just see guys that are great competitors, go after it hard. I think that's what's going on over there. They got a heck of a race team. They got everything you need to be up front. You got a very talented driver. So I think it's just part of it.
We see it quite often in this sport. I think that's kind of a tribute to the guys and their competitive spirit.
Q. Kyle, I know you have an appreciation for grassroots level racing. What did you think of the last few laps of the three races on the backstretch earlier this week? Did you see the Mike Stefanik interview?
KYLE BUSCH: I did not see the Mike Stefanik interview. I didn't even hear about it, what he had to say. This is another one of those moments where I've grown up seven years and I'm not going to have anything to say about that race (smiling).
JOE GIBBS: Yeah!
KYLE BUSCH: I told two people, one that works for NASCAR, one that works for a race team, that that was going to be a complete disaster, and I was right. So that's it (smiling).
Q. We saw some guys who had pit road penalties, trouble getting back up in the field. It's been a long time since if you lost the draft, you were going to have trouble catching it. Will that be an issue on Sunday?
KYLE BUSCH: If you make a mistake on pit road or come into pit road, whether you're speeding or whether you slide your tires, have to take four tires, the guys you were coming with are only taking two tires, you're going to have a problem keeping up and staying with the draft, definitely.
You've got to work on your pit road stuff.
Q. Kyle, in the setting up of your car with the new aero package, do you feel you have to either change anything that you feel in the setup of the car, either for yourself or in the car, on in the way the tires warm up and behave?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, you definitely have to change some of your driving technique because the feel is different. You've got to work on that feel. That's some of the things you try to learn today throughout the Duel race, the 150 miles you had, the old tires that we had, was just feeling how much sliding around it's going to do. How tight do you need to start your car, how loose is it going to go throughout the run, what all is going to happen through those laps.
You know, I felt like our car was pretty good where we worked on some of those things when we were down here during the test. We had some good times where we were able to work on some things while we were drafting. I felt like we made some good changes, those that are different than what our teammates are running, and it seems to be working for us.
Q. Looking ahead to the season, the fact you have a new car, how do you think this particular car is going to handle the shorter tracks, the road courses?
KYLE BUSCH: What are you building there, crew chief?
DAVE ROGERS: That's a good question.
I think the manufacturers and NASCAR did a good job of working together. Really what they've done is they've given us a little more front grip with the aerodynamics, they've given us a little more mechanical grip with the rear camber.
I think with an initial stab, it's hard to tell until we get to the racetrack. But our initial testing at Charlotte, even at the end of last season, indicates they did a pretty good job of balancing the car back out and gave us enough tools to get the car where we need it to race.
I'm sure we'll learn a lot here in the first four to five weeks. But so far so good.
KERRY THARP: Appreciate it. Congratulations to Kyle Busch, Dave Rogers and Coach Joe Gibbs. Good luck on Sunday.