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July 28, 2015

Kyle Busch

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to today's NASCAR Cam. We are joined by Kyle Busch, driver of the No.18 M&M's Crispy Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch captured his fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory this season on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and heads into next week's race at Pocono, the site of Sunday's Windows 10 400.
Kyle, you essentially swept all three races last week, beginning with Kyle Busch Motorsports' win at Eldora and your wins in the NASCAR XFINITY series and Sprint Cup Series at Indy. Tell us about the recent success you've had across all three national series.
KYLE BUSCH: Well, it's certainly been a dream come true, you know, and starting last week at Eldora on Wednesday with Christopher Bell, that was just a great performance by the Kyle Busch Motorsports team and all the guys there winning that one, and then moving on to Indy and participating in the XFINITY Series race as well as the Sprint Cup Series race, and being able to win both of those and come home with a checkered flag was just a phenomenal feat and something that has never been done in Indy. I'm glad to be the first one doing so, but most importantly just being with my team and everybody that's done so much work this year at being able to prepare such great race cars and everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing. To put ourselves in victory lane at the Brickyard 400 is pretty cool.

Q. Kyle, can you just talk about racing at Pocono, what you like about the track, difficulties it presents, and just your thoughts overall racing up at Pocono?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, Pocono is certainly a very interesting racetrack. Obviously it's nicknamed the Tricky Triangle for a reason. There's three distinct turns at that racetrack, not like a typical oval track that we go to that has four corners. It's quite challenging, and the speed that you carry there being a two‑and‑a‑half‑mile racetrack are quite high, and yet you use the right brake to get down to the right speed that you need for the corners.
It's a fun place. It's really flat and lends itself to sometimes getting spread out a little bit, but restarts there are always crazy; you're always four or five wide down that real wide front straightaway trying to funnel off into Turn 1, so it can create for some excitement there for sure.

Q. I'm stating the obvious when you say you've been on this remarkable‑‑ doing it with these different aero packages, could you just talk a little bit about that and how quickly you've adjusted while other drivers haven't been able to adjust?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, we've definitely had some great race cars here at Joe Gibbs Racing, so I think that kind of lends itself a little bit more towards us having the different aero packages, but we've just tried to go out there and do the best that we've known how to do with what we've got. Obviously somebody is going to win the race, it might as well be us, and fortunately we've been lucky in that these last three weeks in winning with three different aero packages in three separate weeks at three different racetracks.
It's been fun. It's definitely different. It's a challenge, you know, being able to jump back and forth between the XFINITY cars and the Cup cars or even running the Camping World trucks, you're always trying to figure out that balance of what exactly the car or truck is going to drive like. So I think that sort of lends itself a little bit more towards me racing in these different rules packages. It's just the versatility of that and understanding what the car will do or won't do, and just trying to come up with those conclusions as quickly as possible to give yourself a good basis going into the race.

Q. I wondered if you could talk a little bit, obviously the driver is such a huge, important part of what you're doing right now, but also what this means for your team to get back in this thing and have a chance to really go for the championship. Are you seeing a whole lot of smiles on their faces? What's the vibe like for the team and if you could just talk about how nice it feels for you to deliver them a shot at the championship, as well?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I definitely think the whole company is really jacked up. Everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing feels everything going and coming together as a whole. Even my teammates, we went to lunch the other day and everybody is just kind of gelling and happy. Everyone is smiling, and they're happy for me and the success that we've had at the 18 car but also the success that the company is starting to put together, as well, too, with a bunch of us finishing in the top 10 each and every week, especially Kentucky. That was amazing, all three of us in the top 5.
So we feel like everything is really coming together as a whole. Yeah, it's a lot of hard work, a lot of dedication. Adam Stevens and his group of guys on the 18 bunch have really come together and come full circle. It actually started out really tough with them and they were down in the dumps maybe and really weren't sure what was going to happen or who the driver was going to be week‑to‑week, but Matt Crafton, David Ragan and Erik Jones did a fantastic job filling in for me. And once I've gotten back, maybe it took a couple weeks to kind of knock the rust off a little bit, but since then it seems like we're running on all eight cylinders and just have done a fantastic job being able to get our M&M's Crispy as well as our Skittles Camry into victory lane.

Q. As you were rehabbing your injury did you ever think you'd get back this quickly and did you ever doubt that you'd have this success this quickly once you got back from your injury?
KYLE BUSCH: You know, going through the rehab process and everything, I wasn't exactly sure how fast I'd be able to get that going. Every day or every other day when I went to go see the therapist or even when the therapist would come to my house, I kept pushing him and telling him, hey, I want to be able to do this, or hey, I want to be able to do that, or hey, next time I see you we're going to be doing this, right. So I was kind of almost pushing him a little bit more than he was pushing me.
But you know, more and more as I started getting up and started walking and doing some different things, he really started pushing me and saying, man, you've got to do this, you've got to be able to do that; we've got to put more weight on this. So it was really‑‑ it started to get tougher, a lot tougher, once I started to become more mobile.
But all in all, I wasn't sure how fast I'd be able to return, but I'd say it was a little quicker than what many of us expected, which was fine. And then getting back in the race car, like I said, it just maybe took a couple weeks to kind of knock the rust off get a feel for everything again, but once we got that kind of all out of the way, it seems like everything has just been coming together.

Q. You've obviously been focusing recently on trying to make the Chase, but have you had a chance to look at maybe the historical aspects, the streak that you're on, like where it stands as far as history goes?
KYLE BUSCH: A little bit, yeah. Someone showed me the other day, I guess the three wins in a row hasn't happened since Jimmie Johnson in 2007. I think Jeff Gordon was before that, Mark Martin and Rusty Wallace maybe even before that in the early '90s. Three or four times since 1992 it's happened, so that's pretty special. It feels good to be in that group of names, and obviously those guys are all champions in their own right and have built the sport to what it is today.
Hopefully for us and this 18 car, we'd love nothing more than to be able to go to Pocono this weekend and be able to capitalize on another victory and make it four in a row and knock off another racetrack that I have yet to score a win, so it would be pretty cool.

Q. You look at your results over the years at Pocono, you've kind of been hit or miss, or feast or famine kind of thing. How vital is Pocono going to be toward your continued quest towards making the Chase?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I would agree with you it has been feast or famine. We either hit it or we don't. It's a tricky racetrack to try to hit. I'm not sure exactly what things or what traits you have to have in your car exactly, but I thought we had a decent run there this spring. I felt like we had a third‑ or fourth‑place car. I messed up on a couple of restarts and finished ninth, so that wasn't too terrible, but you know, we definitely would like to get to victory lane there for sure.
But as far as Pocono being a place that's going to derail our efforts or anything in making the Chase, I don't think it has anything to do with any of that. Even if we had a bad day and finished in the 30s or 40s, it certainly wouldn't speed up our process of making the Chase, but we still have five more weeks after that where I feel like we have some really good tracks coming up that we can win at, like Watkins Glen, like Bristol, Darlington, Richmond. Those places I'm really looking forward to, and who's to say that we shouldn't get any more wins.

Q. People want to point to a lot of different theories out there as to what's behind your odyssey. Some people say, well, he's just more mature now, some people say maybe your time away gave you some perspective and focus that you never had before, or maybe it's just you have really great cars right now. Have you had a chance to reflect and think about what's behind all this, and do you have a reason or a theory that you point to more than others about all your success?
KYLE BUSCH: I think I would point more so towards just the relationship with Adam Stevens and myself. The time that I was down and hurt, Adam and I, we still had an opportunity to spend time together, and we'd talk, and we'd talk about my rehab and what all I was going through, but then we would just talk about family stuff, how him and his wife and kids were doing and just what's going on at the race shop, all the guys and stuff like that when I was stuck at home in bed.
But we always kept in touch. There was never a time and there was never a weekend that we weren't able to speak to one another. I think that really helps fortify a relationship as much as we could without me being in the race car, and then since I've been in the car, just trusting what he's doing and giving him all the feedback I possibly can and letting him go to work. He's done a really good job of him and the whole team, everything that they've put together for me, and past that, maybe it was a little bit of the other stuff, too, just studying the racing while I was away and just kind of seeing what was going on and being hungry for it and wanting it and knowing that this is what I want to do. I don't have anything else in life that interests me as much as driving race cars.

Q. When the accident first happened, considering the timing of it at the beginning of the season and the severity of your injuries, I'm curious, how long did it take you to get your head around the idea that your season wasn't necessarily over, because it seems like that might be the natural reaction to something that severe.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, it was a natural reaction initially. I did think the season was over. I did think it would probably take a full 12 months to recuperate and recover and back to normal. Through the surgery in Daytona and then understanding what all was going on there and then through the surgery at Charlotte to fix my foot, you know, and understanding and talking to the doctors there that did everything that went on, they gave me a better synopsis of how it was all going to turn out and what it was going to look like. I think the original estimation was probably 16 weeks before they felt like I'd be able to get back into a race car, but then it would be about six months, which is what we're coming up on, before I'd actually kind of feel normal and like I didn't have an injury, but yet it would still be 12 months before I would actually be able to just go for a run, strap on some running shoes and get out there and go for a run.
You know, we're still working on all those timelines. I've still got one more surgery coming up here this off‑season. Fortunately everything came to plan actually quicker than we all anticipated, and for me, once I started listening to the doctors and understanding what all was going on and what all I was going to go through, I then realized, okay, I'm going to be back this year. I want to be back by here or I can be back by this race. You know, we just kind of all started to put it together, and a lot of it was talking to Joe and the team and everybody. They didn't want me to rush into coming back too soon and take a chance of reinjuring something. We made the right decisions. I think everything just kind of came together and fell nicely.

Q. Do you still need more surgeries on top of what's already happened?
KYLE BUSCH: Yes, that's correct. I've still got plates in my left foot that have got to come out in the off‑season, so we'll get those removed in December, and I've got screws and a rod in my right leg. The rod will probably stay, but the screws will come out.

Q. Kyle, do you feel prepared for the Chase for the intermediate tracks, assuming that the rules package will be kind of the traditional rules package and not the reduced downforce or any high‑drag packages?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't know. You know, to be honest with you, I think the only mile‑and‑a‑half race I ran was Kentucky and that was the lower downforce package, which I enjoyed. I thought we had a good show; obviously I won, so I think I'm a little partial maybe, but besides that, you go to Chicago and Kansas and Charlotte, Texas, those places with the typical package, I don't think that that's necessarily going to derail our success or take anything away from what we've done or been able to do this year. I'm fine with it. I think that I feel like we're ready. I don't feel like there's anything wrong with our cars, with the current package, the normal package let's call it, and I look forward to getting to those racetracks.
Chicago has been a really good place for me over the years. Last year we ran well, we led some laps and had a chance to win that thing, so let's go do it again this year.

Q. And have you had to add to any of your plans as far as XFINITY and trucks to make up for any races that you missed while injured?
KYLE BUSCH: No. Let's see, I'm going to run pretty much through the remainder of the remaining races, I think, of the XFINITY schedule, besides Watkins Glen. I'm not running that one. And as far as the trucks stuff, I was originally scheduled to do four races, I'm still scheduled to do four races.
I've got Pocono coming up this week, I'm running Loudon, and I'm running Bristol, and there's one other one I can't remember right now.

Q. Can you give us your thoughts on Christopher Bell's performance and win at Eldora, and in addition, Bell said after that race that he thought Eldora was his last scheduled truck race for the season. Has that changed at all at this point?
KYLE BUSCH: You know, Christopher Bell is an amazing talent. He's done an great job at Kyle Busch Motorsports this year in those super late model races. It actually goes back to last year. I thought he did a really good job in some of the first races that he ran for us. Getting his pace for pavement racing, it's certainly gone really well for him. He's done a really good job. So excited to see that continue on and to see more super late model races this year.
The truck race at Eldora was awesome. He ran a smart race. He ran a smart heat race. He qualified decent. So everything just kind of came together for him. And you know, with Bobby Pierce, Bobby obviously was really impressive, too, and running really hard in his truck, and they put on a great show, so I was really pumped to see those two guys running up front and duking it out for the win and not letting Chris Bell have it too easy.
Under critical pressure he did a good job. Like you said, he never really would have imagined in 100 years that he'd go to Eldora and win his first race in a NASCAR truck. That was pretty crazy.
But as far as his plans for the remainder of the year, we're still looking at some 54 races for him and seeing what we can do there. We're not quite sure as of everything yet with the remaining season. That's up to (inaudible) been able to do, so we're going to have some more announcements here shortly.
THE MODERATOR: Kyle, thank you for joining us today, and we wish you the best of luck this weekend in Pocono.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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