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NASCAR MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 19, 2015
Q. Is your deal going to be announced soon, your extension?
KYLE BUSCH: I think it was kind of included, but it wasn't necessarily included. My deal is within there, as well, too.
Q. I mean, as strong as you have been and what a great career you've had with Gibbs, you know, can you just see going the distance with them?
KYLE BUSCH: Certainly. You know, I definitely feel like that. But a lot of things have happened in this sport where you never really know. But I'm pleased with where I'm at. I feel like Joe Gibbs and Joe Gibbs Racing has really been a true home for me, and being with Toyota and them and having the respect and rapport that I do with them has been really awesome, as well, too.
You know, it's so exciting to have the opportunity to continue on down the road for multiple years with M&M's and to continue on in the relationship with them, for as much fun as we've had over the years, it's certainly cool that we can continue to have that, and to keep that colorful brand out there on the racetrack as hopefully with much more success following.
Q. Sitting in the hospital bed in Daytona nine months ago, could you ever have imagined this moment?
KYLE BUSCH: No, I wouldn't say that I could have. You know, we were trying to figure out whether or not I was going to be eligible when I was able to return and whether or not I could make up enough points to get myself in contention to be Chase eligible come Richmond, and once everything kind of started going, you know, after Michigan, when I crashed out there and finished dead last, we were like, okay, we've got to reboot here and figure out what we're going to do to make the Chase. But things went well. We won Sonoma. We won four out of five weeks, and man, it just turned around and put us where we needed to be for this Chase.
We've done what we needed to do within the Chase to keep moving on. We may have been the last guy moving on each time, but it doesn't matter if you're first or last, you know. I'm talking against Ricky Bobby right there.
It only matters right now in the last round and making sure that you're the No.1 guy.
Q. So your deal goes consistent with what Mars has signed?
KYLE BUSCH: Yes, that's right.
Q. So through 2019 or 2020?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't know the year count, bro. I'm not in charge of that. It's multiple years; how about that?
Q. You also have a deal with Toyota for your trucks. Do you still have that? It all has to kind of work hand in hand, doesn't it?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, no doubt. I think that's pretty self‑explanatory. I think it all goes within cahoots of one another.
Q. What are your thoughts about Coach Gibbs and the success that he's had? What qualities do you see in him obviously as a team leader?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, Joe is a huge inspiration for me and for this race team and for everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing. When Joe came back from coaching football and was walking through the shops, that was sort of my first couple years, and people just love the guy. He stops and talks with them, or they pull him to the side and just tell him how greatest or whatever, but he's just been so much fun to work around and have a relationship with, and I couldn't think of a better place or a better guy to drive for.
You know, enjoying the time that we've got right now. He's obviously been a three‑time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. He's also a three‑time Super Bowl champion. You know, he's got a huge rÃ©sumÃ© and is able to just have the respect of people and his employees and people that work for him or play for him that we give it all we've got all the time, and pretty much that's what he expects of us.
Q. Does he regale you with football war stories a lot?
KYLE BUSCH: Oh, yeah, you get plenty of football stories for sure. You know, one of them earlier this year was just how much my injury reminded him of the injury to Theismann and being back in that day and age. He still remembers all those things, which is really good, considering what we're having with J.D. right now.
This would be nothing special for a season for me to come back from my injury but also for everything that Joe Gibbs Racing means, and with J.D. being on board with winning the Brickyard 400 this year. That was really awesome to have him with us, to go do that and celebrate with him. But I think this would be even greater by far.
Q. How soon after the accident were you thinking or talking about points again, not just getting back in the car but getting yourself back in the Chase?
KYLE BUSCH: Must have been the next day at least when Helton came over to visit with me in the hospital, and we were talking with him about what's the scenario going to be with me coming back. Am I still going to be eligible for it. They didn't have any clue at that point, so they went back and discussed it and came up with the waiver that I still had to maintain everything that every other driver has to maintain and be able to go out there and perform and get the job done.
Q. The doctors had already kind of given you a timetable?
KYLE BUSCH: No, uh‑uh, no.
Q. You were kind of getting ahead of it a little bit?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, we were definitely ahead of the game. We were pre‑planning for sure. I didn't know whether or not I was going to be back at all this year or whether I was going to be back by Charlotte, which I was, or Daytona, the summer race. I think it was all originally planned to be back for Daytona, the summer race, but obviously things kind of went a little quicker than that and I was able to get back sooner, which made my task a lot easier.
Q. Good thing it wasn't like Joe because he never played again.
KYLE BUSCH: I know, right? Yeah, exactly.
Q. Can you tell me like what's the favorite part about the track and what's your least favorite part about the track?
KYLE BUSCH: About Homestead?
KYLE BUSCH: Um, I think what my most favorite part about the racetrack is just the ability to move all over the racetrack for the different racing grooves that you have. You can run bottom, middle, top, you know, and it moves around as the run goes on. Your tires wear out and you kind of start searching and trying to find something that works good for your car.
But I think in the same sense, that's what I almost don't like about the racetrack, too, because you can be running in a groove that you like and feels good for you but then somebody else will find something for them that works and they'll pass you with it. It's kind of a double‑edged sword for sure, and understanding and knowing how long to run on the bottom versus going to the middle versus going to the top, you know, a lot of guys, they just shoot for the top right out of the gate, and a lot of other guys, they tend to run more laps on the bottom before moving up. It makes it challenging to figure out exactly what your strategy or what you want to do when you get out there.
Q. Of the four of you, who do you think has the best ability of running on that track if you just talk about the four of you?
KYLE BUSCH: Man, I don't know. I mean, I think we all have had our good races there before. I remember three years ago, I led the whole darned thing, and then Truex and I, we were running one‑two the whole darned day, and then towards the end there was a caution. The race went green, and we didn't pit, but we had to pit later, and Jeff Gordon, he ended up winning that race. That was his first Homestead win, you know. So Harvick obviously winning last year, being his first Homestead win, I think we all have a legitimate shot to think we're all pretty equal.
Q. You said on stage that Jeff Gordon was your childhood hero. Talk about that.
KYLE BUSCH: He was my favorite driver growing up, and he was just because I remember once I started getting into the real racing thing and watching the Cup races on Sunday, Jeff was the guy that just kind of came onto the scene, and obviously he was hot coming onto the scene. I just chose him as my driver and just followed him along all throughout his career and cheered for him through the really good years of winning 10, 13 races, whatever it was in the years, and then also still cheered for him in the years that he maybe won one or two. That was my guy.
Q. What's your favorite memory of racing with him?
KYLE BUSCH: Of racing with him?
KYLE BUSCH: I think one of my favorite memories with Jeff was we ran‑‑ where was it? California Speedway. I don't remember if it was my first time there or my second time there to California Speedway, but we were racing hard for a top 5 spot or something like that, and I'd go off in the corner right behind him and get him air loose and move him up the track, and then the next time around he'd do the same thing back to me. We did that to each other about four, five, six times. He wasn't too happy about it afterwards, but the boss sat us down and talked to us a little bit, and basically was like, all right, you two, Jeff, you've been here a lot longer, you know a lot better. Kyle, just chill out, don't do that anymore to your teammates. It was kind of fun to see that.
But there was another cool memory which I don't really like but I know Jeff does, was Phoenix a few years ago, I was leading, again, and Jeff passed me down towards the end of the race and ended up winning that race. Well, afterwards, he was like, holy cow, oh, my gosh, whatever, we just beat Kyle Busch. So that was kind of a turn of the tables, if you will, that was pretty awesome to hear.
Q. What's it like for you three guys to race for a championship, and all three of you seem to respect one another? Jeff is probably one of the most respected drivers. What's it like to race him for a championship?
KYLE BUSCH: I think it's awesome. I don't know that anybody would have really expected Jeff to be in this position throughout the season that they've kind of had. They just haven't necessarily been as strong as they were last year. Last year you would have picked them to be one of the final four, and they weren't. They missed by one spot. And this year I think it would be vice versa.
But I think it's amazing. I think it's a true testament to Jeff Gordon and his racing career and his legacy that he gets to go out in his final season and have a chance for the championship. I mean, he's had a ton of chances for championships over the years, maybe many of them a little unfair to him, just based off a points system or whatever it may be, but to see him in one final race, we're going to have to beat him‑‑ I'm going to have to beat my childhood hero and pass that guy for a win, you know, it's going to be interesting.
Q. Tomorrow is a big day for you guys, as well, with Kyle Busch Motorsports going for a series championship. How important is that for you?
KYLE BUSCH: It's hugely important. You know, I love Kyle Busch Motorsports, all the guys there, the girls there, everybody that does a great job for us in order to make that organization successful. So I'm real proud of Erik Jones and what all he's been able to accomplish the last few years with us as a race team, but also more importantly for himself for this year to become a Truck Series champion.
You know, that's the first step in NASCAR is to get that championship, you know, and then you continue on moving on. Obviously he's got good things going for him in the future.
Looking forward to that and celebrating big.
Q. He's never raced at Homestead but he practiced for you last year. What are you expecting tomorrow?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, we just gave him some practice laps last year and then they also came down here a couple weeks ago. We saved a test for him to be able to have a test here. You know, I think he learned a lot. I don't think he was necessarily ready when they unloaded, but he learned a lot and did a really good job. I'm optimistic that he'll have a good day. I know he's done really good at being able to learn these different racetracks over the years, looking at Iowa and Gateway and Michigan and places like that. He's run fine, so I don't foresee him having any issue.
Q. Would it be a big deal if the race were rain‑shortened on Sunday?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I think it would be very unfortunate, you know, but it is what it is. I mean, the rules have been the way the rules are for a long, long time and everybody ridicules NASCAR for changing the rules whenever they want, and this time they're sticking to it. Like Jeff said earlier, I hope I'm the guy leading when it's raining, and if it's raining we're going to be doing a heck of a rain dance.
Q. You joke about being the king of the minors, but how bad do you want this? What would it actually mean to you to be the Sprint Cup champion?
KYLE BUSCH: It would mean everything. I mean, it's been something that I've dreamed about for years and have always strived to try to achieve. You know, this is something that you work at as a 12‑year‑old, 13‑year‑old kid racing legends cars. For me to have this opportunity to go out here and win this championship would be the top moment in my career and in my family and everything else to have this format the way it is. You can't take anything away from my brother and the way he won it, but man, this one seems pretty tough. But we'll just fight it out and we'll see how it goes, and hopefully it's one of the greatest days of my life.
Q. How inspirational has Sam been to you through this process, going back to the start of the year to now?
KYLE BUSCH: She's been a huge influence and a huge help and just everything, not just professionally but also personally, you know. So it's been so much fun to have the relationship that I have with her, and now we have a son, and it's been pretty cool. It's actually‑‑ it'll be eight months to the day on Saturday that I was injured, you know, so it's interesting to know that that exact day kind of falls on that moment.
But we hope to have it‑‑ like I said, hope to have an enjoyable end to the year.
Q. What's your best advice for anybody for overcoming injuries?
KYLE BUSCH: Listen to your doctors. I think the biggest thing for me was every time they told me to do something and said something, I was like, man, I don't know if I can do that and I would do it and struggle through it, but then two days later I could do it even better. Obviously you continue to get better as you heal.
Just don't get down, don't get discouraged. I think there's always tomorrow, you know, give it the best you've got at that particular moment but then go back and do it again the next day and do it better.
Q. Did you expect it to be as tough as it was?
KYLE BUSCH: I never did, no. I've never been really injured that bad in my life, so I didn't really know what to expect or know what it was going to be about, but it's something you don't really want to have to go through, that's for sure. But I know people don't necessarily look forward to surgeries, but I'm actually looking forward to my surgery here this off‑season to get everything out and to just be done with all of that, and hopefully the foot feels better.
Q. Your team not only is Adam, a rookie crew chief, but the majority of your team is new, either come from the outside or moved up from the XFINITY Series. How impressed have you been with them this year?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I think that's been a huge thing. I mean, I couldn't say enough good things about them today or last week or even in the middle of the year when we were just getting back together. But I think the biggest thing that I look at is just the amount of camaraderie and belief in one another and everything that happened through my injury and me not being there, that they just stuck with one another, they worked hard, they kept their heads down. They worked with David Ragan and Matt Crafton and Erik Jones and they did what they needed to do through my injury in order to get the car and everything, the program, all set and everybody kind of gelled together for my return. They all could have went off in la‑la land and just forgot about the season and just figured, oh, we'll start over with all this again next year, but they didn't, and that's really what's awesome about my group of guys, and I've been with them for a few seasons on the XFINITY level, Adam, and Nate and Brandon come from KBM and a couple other guys from the outside, but it's pretty exciting to have this chance now that we do to all work together and go for a championship in Adam's first season as a Cup crew chief. That's just remarkable, but that just shows what that guy is all about.
Q. What clicked for that group during the streak?
KYLE BUSCH: I'm not sure exactly what it was. You know, we were struggling up to that point, and then it just kind of went together and then it just kind of clicked. I think it was just the point in which I kind of just was like‑‑ I dismissed all the pressure, I just took it all off, and I was just like, all right, we're going to go out here and just race. We're going to do what we want to do here and that's to win these races and compete for the wins. We had some luck go our way and things just kind of worked out. You've got to have that in racing. You can't go out here on Sunday and have bad luck and expect to win a championship. It's just not going to happen. You've just got to have a day that goes how it goes without‑‑ I'd say with any luck, and you hope to have it end the way you need it to.
Q. Do you feel like having that as a background helps you going into this race?
KYLE BUSCH: I think so, for sure, yeah. I've always kind of raced with pressure on myself, and whether it's been self‑induced or others, I've always kind of raced with that, and I feel like that's maybe been my Achilles heel or something that's kind of hurt me over the years, but once I got to the summer months and just kind of erased my mind of any of the pressure and just did what I wanted to do and what I thought I needed to do, it's all worked out, and that's how I felt this whole rest of the year. Even through each Chase round, we were on the outside looking in. There should be pressure there, you've got to perform, you've got to do what you need to do. I just went into each week, like man, you know what, if we're going to do it, we're going to do it, and if we ain't, we ain't. It's going to be our season. We look at it right now that the worst we can be is fourth. This is a great year for how it started for me, and we're just going to do what we can to do what we did this summer and hopefully win.
Q. They talk about Kevin being the favorite this weekend, but you've got more wins in fewer starts this year than any of these guys. Is that a fair assessment?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, sure, it is. Kevin is the favorite. I mean, he's obviously been in this position before, last year. He won, I believe, close to the most races last year. But the guy has got like 13 or 14 first or second place finishes. I mean, his average finish is just unbelievable. He runs up front every single week. I mean, that's just what he does. It's a guy, you know, if we don't have to win this race on Sunday to win the championship, you will have to finish second. I mean, that's just going to be that close. But my belief is still that you've got to somehow win this race.
Q. Your record at Homestead is not very good, to be honest. I mean, is that a concern at all?
KYLE BUSCH: Nope. Nope. Not at all. I've run well there over the past few seasons. I've been pretty excited about how I've run over the past few seasons. Like I said, I think it was three years ago, Martin and I, we ran one‑two all day, I finished fourth because of pit strategy. Not our doing; we were going to win that thing. The year before that I was chasing Denny down for the win. I scuffed the wall, finished eighth. You know, two years ago or whatever it was, when I had my issues in Texas, you know, I just came back and just wanted to make laps and not be in anybody's way, finished bad, 20th or whatever it was. Last year we broke a rear‑end part. Not our own doing. We were running fifth at the time.
So you can look at the results, but you've also got to look at how things were kind of going before that.
Q. When you look at your year, obviously the injury, rehab, return, come back, could you have imagined things going like this?
KYLE BUSCH: My life has sort of been that way. It's been quite a whirlwind. But nothing like this year I guess I'd say. It's certainly been a lot going on in a short period of time from February to May, for sure. But it's been great. I wouldn't change it for anything in the world. I've got a great family. I'm blessed with a great wife and a really cool son. You know, I've looked forward to this opportunity here as my professional life to go out here and perform and do what we need to do to try to win a championship and have that be the first of hopefully many.
Q. You mentioned taking the pressure off yourself. No matter what happens on Sunday, do you say, hey, I know how to get back here?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, no doubt, I do. I think that every year is different, and you're going to be racing against different characters throughout your entire career. You know, you've got Jeff Gordon right now who's in his final one. He's never raced against me for a championship or Martin Truex. It changes every year. Harvick, he's racing against three different competitors than he did last year for the championship.
It's an interesting sport, and you know, certainly I think you learn in each and every step of the way.
Q. Speaking of those dreams, were you racing Gordon for the title in the championship race?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I've beat him a few times in my championship dreams for sure, yeah. I've already had probably six or seven by now when I was 13 years old thinking of it, but right now I'm at zero, so we've got to make the first one happen.
Q. Why this year have you been able to navigate yourself to this point?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't know. I'm not sure exactly what it's been that we've been able to navigate those weird things that happened. Maybe one of it is just kind of having better race cars, having good race cars and being able to go out there and perform. Last year Joe Gibbs Racing as a whole, we struggled, and Denny did the perfect thing he needed to do and make it through, but we didn't. Other than that, you know, we continued to get better each and every year as a company at Joe Gibbs Racing and stronger and have less failures here or there. Toyota has gotten better and they've done a better job for us to have more horsepower and be better prepared at this point of the season. I feel like this is the best we've ever been coming into the final four races let alone the final one race that we need for this championship.
Q. Is there any value to have gone through that and have all these weird things happen and then you process it and move on, get on to the next things? Do those things in the past have any value?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't know. I mean, I think they're all pretty disappointing to be honest with you, and this year it looked to be kind of disappointing when we had our issue at Loudon. We blew a tire, and then‑‑
KYLE BUSCH: Charlotte we had just another stupid thing happen, but we were able to overcome those, you know, and I think we were able to overcome those because we've had really good race cars, and I can't say thank to Adam Stevens enough for that.
Q. There's been some very weird things that have happened this year, weird endings‑‑
KYLE BUSCH: Oh, we've seen it. I've had it, trust me.
Q. Do you expect that something like that is going to happen in this race at some point? Do you have to sort of plan for a bizarre thing to happen at Homestead?
KYLE BUSCH: I think it was kind of bizarre at the end of the race last year at Homestead. You know, look at Logano. They had the car fall off the jack and whatever issue they had, and then towards the end there was all those cautions and you look at Denny who stayed out and you look at Harvick who took four and the 31 who took two, and it's like, okay, literally, who's going to win this thing now, which tire strategy is going to be the right one. That to me is kind of weird. But then you had continuing cautions and things that happened.
But Harvick eventually was able to win the thing. I remember watching the film and just seeing Harvick win‑‑ I think it was the second to last restart he made a bold move off Turn 2. He was four wide with people. He wasn't bulldozing his way through the middle, but I mean, he almost got slammed on both sides, and that could have ruined his day, but he somehow made it through there. You're going to have moments like that where you're going to take a deep breath and you're going to be like, oho, here we go, and hope that you make it through. You're going to have to have those bold moments to win the championship I'm sure.
Q. Where does Martin fit into this?
KYLE BUSCH: Martin? He fits in. I mean, he's no different than any of the rest of us. We all deserve a chance.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports