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NASCAR MEDIA CONFERENCE
June 5, 2007
HERB BRANHAM: I'd like to welcome everyone to our weekly NASCAR teleconference. This week it's in advance of Sunday's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event at Pocono Raceway, the Pocono 500.
I'd like to take a moment to say that we actually considered canceling today's teleconference in light of the passing Monday of NASCAR's vice chairman Bill France, but we talked about it, and all of us knowing Bill, we figured he would want us to press on. As a matter of fact, knowing Bill, he would probably be upset with us if we did not press on with business. So that's indeed what we're doing today.
Suffice to say everything going on at NASCAR today can be linked directly to Bill France's efforts over 30 plus years as our president and as the chairman, CEO and then in the last few years as vice chairman.
Today's teleconference guest is Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 5 Kellogg's/Carquest Chevrolet. Kyle is up to 10th in the series standings.
Kyle, thanks for joining us. What is the outlook going into Pocono this weekend?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, this past weekend we had a great weekend in Dover. You know, wasn't the expected results we got, but fought hard all day in order to achieve a top-20 finish there. You know, the guys worked hard. We had some mechanical issues there we were able to overcome. So proud of the effort with that.
But in light of the passing, I'd like to say a few words about Bill. I was able to spend sometime with him this past winter on his boat down in Key West, in Florida. I just had a great time getting to know him a little bit, getting to understand more about NASCAR and everything about how stuff goes on and what goes on in light of everything.
Definitely a class-act gentleman, a guy I would have loved to have spent more time with and gotten to know of course a little bit better. Our thoughts and prayers go out to not only his family, but his friends, everybody that's been a part of the NASCAR organization for those years.
HERB BRANHAM: Thank you for those kind words. We're ready to take questions from the media for today's guest, Kyle Busch.
Q. What exactly was your issue this past weekend? Was it a shock? Was it something in the setup that it was bouncing off the front splitter?
KYLE BUSCH: What had happened was we run with the bump stops now in order to keep the car from traveling. It's a device in order to limit travel because the splitter is only allowed to be four-and-a-half inches above the ground. Everybody runs them, but we were trying a new deal here this weekend that we felt like it would be a little bit better for grip, and it was. It made the car handle pretty well.
You know, what had happened was the material was actually going over -- we have a washer on there, as well, too, and it was kind of just squishing it over the washer. Over time too much pressure, heat, you know, everything involved, all scenarios involved, it just finally started deteriorating. It ended up breaking and falling off, then it would start to drag the racetrack really hard.
The first one I was able to catch and we were able to mosey on until our lap 65 competition caution. But the second one we weren't so fortunate with. We got going through the corner. I started feeling it giving up a little bit more than what it had been. All of a sudden it just fell out or broke out or however you want to put it, coming off the corner. It put us straight in the wall. Just a bad break there. We had to come in and put on one of our old systems that we knew would work. We were able to finish out the rest of the day.
Q. What does Casey Mears getting his first Cup win mean for you and your team?
KYLE BUSCH: It's cool because, you know, the 25 shop is a part of the 5 team. It's not the 5 team, it's the 5 team and the 25 team. It's a 5/25 put together there. For them to be able to get the adversity off their back and what all they've been struggling with for the first part of the year, you know, not only means a great deal to them but of course to us, too, because we're glad to see them be successful, we're glad to see them get back on track, to be able to get out there and win races on their own.
For us, we've won a race this year. We've had opportunities to win a couple more. Casey, he's been in the wrong place at the wrong time for much of the year, but now he was able to finally put that behind him two weeks ago at Charlotte and get his first win. It's definitely cool.
Q. How close are y'all's setups to each other?
KYLE BUSCH: I'd have to say that Jimmie and I are relatively the closest, and then from there, you know, Casey is probably in between Jimmie and myself and what Jeff is. From Jimmie to Jeff, that's probably the widest separation of driver style to car setup that we have. Casey is in there right between myself and Jeff, yet I'm closer to Jimmie than what any of them are.
Q. The Dale Earnhardt, Jr. situation is obviously something that's a topic each week. Rick Hendrick came out in the last couple weeks and said other than working on motors and cars, his stable is full. How much have you involved Dale Earnhardt, Jr.'s situation?
KYLE BUSCH: I haven't really. I mean, I just kind of keep hearing all the rumblings and everything like that. Kind of curious to see where he'll end up finding his home as well, just as anybody else is.
You know, I feel like he's out there just kind of shopping and playing a part of the trade, if you will, just kind of seeing where his best interests show him to be.
Q. How much have you talked with Rick Hendrick about the possibility of an extension past 2008?
KYLE BUSCH: We've been in this negotiation for, say, since November of 2005 when I won that race in Phoenix. We've been talking since then. It's been a long-going process. It's been putting off on the back burner a few times. But, you know, it's something that's important to me but, you know, not as important as being able to go out there every Sunday and race race cars.
Q. Throughout the season as you've experienced more success, how much have you leaned on Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson, two guys that have obviously experienced a lot of success?
KYLE BUSCH: I've leaned on them a lot. It was kind of hard for me to do so in the beginning of my career, and even so in the beginning of this year, you know, because I don't necessarily feel like I am as close to them as I want to be. None of that's due to them or none of that's due to myself. I think it's just kind of circumstantial where I'm off doing my own thing and they're off doing their own thing.
Jeff shed some light on something that was really important to me a couple weeks ago. That's that you want to come into this deal and yet you want to be competitive and fast and successful as a rookie or as a young driver but, you know, you don't know who to go to help -- who to go to for help or how to get it or when the right time is or when the right time isn't.
For me, I never really understood whether I should go to them or whether they should come to me. You would think the veteran guys, the older guys, per se, would want to come help out the young guys and not necessarily the young guys go to them and always ask for the help. I feel like that would be a nuisance. I'd always wait for them to come talk to me.
Jeff shed some light where it's actually the other way around, where you think it would be different.
Q. Curious about your meeting with Bill France. Could you go into that more, how it came about, what you talked about, what you took away from the whole thing.
KYLE BUSCH: It was actually just kind of a get-together. It wasn't necessarily a meeting or anything. It was just a time where we both became available, and Rick was available. We all went out on his boat down in Florida. We went fishing together. It was really fun. They went out early in the morning. I was flying in that morning, so I wasn't able to get out there till midday.
Sat down with him. We were just kind of shooting around, talking, you know, fishing, seeing what all we could do. Of course, we moved inside later and just kind of talked about stories in general and what things have elapsed over the years, how they just don't come up with a decision spur of the moment, where it is actually thought out and put in a process, everybody kind of thinks about things more to the light of what's going to happen 10 years from now with this decision than, Okay, we got to do this now in order to change something.
I learned a lot, that it's not necessarily just somebody that sits there and thinks of something and it happens. It all goes through a process and everything's -- like the Car of Tomorrow, it wasn't just thrown in here, we knew about it for two years, but it was in process for five years.
It's just those kind of things, just being able to teach him a little bit about what kind of person I was, about what kind of person he was to me.
Q. Did you get the sense that he knew exactly who you were?
KYLE BUSCH: I feel so. You know, I think coming out of that deal, it was definitely a good experience. Meant a lot to me. I think it meant a lot to him. I can't be certain to say that. You know, I think being able to go and spend some time with him, just get to know him a little bit better, definitely meant more to me than it did to him. But, you know, it was still a life-moving experience.
Q. How difficult is it going to be going from the Car of Tomorrow at Dover with the concrete and high banking to a flat track and the car of yesterday this weekend?
KYLE BUSCH: It's going to be a challenge. You know, it's been a challenge the whole year, having to go back and forth. Of course, you know, the Busch car being thrown in there, going from a Car of Tomorrow to a Busch car the same weekend, those guys I'm sure had a tough time this past weekend at Dover with that.
You know, looking at it, I think we've got a pretty good shot this weekend. You know, we haven't run great at Pocono in the past, but we've had some decent runs there. We built a brand-new car in order to go there only for two races this year. You know, hopefully we can have a good race with it. I'm looking forward to the changes they made with the car. Hopefully we can have a strong run, you know, the challenges won't be too difficult for us to overcome.
Q. In light with Martin winning and Casey winning, what guys do you feel are due to break through, guys that really have been trying hard to break through?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I would say those are pretty much two of them definitely. But, you know, another guy that's been fighting for a while, just hasn't quite gotten the right opportunity, except that year I think it was '98, '99 maybe, Dave Blaney at Atlanta had the car to beat and had the left rear wheel fall off after a pit stop. Dave Blaney is a guy that's probably been due for a win for a while. He's just always, you know, smooth, doesn't really get in a whole lot of trouble, manages to bring his car home in one piece all the time, does a good job. He's probably one of the guys as well as, you know, Jamie McMurray has been around for a little bit and hasn't quite been able to get him back to Victory Lane. He's won a race, but hasn't been able to since that race.
You know, there's a ton of guys out there that would love to win every week, I'm sure. I'm one of them. I've gotten a few, but definitely not as much as, say, Jeff or Jimmie Johnson. You know, it's been a hard task and it's been a learning experience to understand that you can't win every week. You know, sometimes they're very far in between.
Q. Maybe because you made it look so easy when you first came in, did it seem like it just got harder after that for newer guys to break in?
KYLE BUSCH: I think so. I think, you know, like you said, I was probably one of the last guys that came in that was the youngest and being able to be successful. I mean, you look at Reed Sorenson who has been good at times, especially at Charlotte, ran real well, and David Ragan has had some spurts of good runs. You know, just haven't quite been able to put it all together yet.
You look at the way I guess how everybody wants to put it Chevy dominance of the year, but they've been winning all the races, and Ford and Dodge have been struggling a little bit. I don't necessarily think it's drivers or anything like that. I think it's just the teams and the organizations that are behind it. You have Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs and RCR, and DEI with the main guys for Chevrolet. You know, Dodge has Penske and Ganassi. There's some Roush -- basically Roush for Ford. It's tough to get all those wins and get all the organizations put together.
Q. El Dora, you're going to that race. How do you feel about it?
KYLE BUSCH: I'm looking forward to it. El Dora is going to be fun. I've never been there before. It's going to be a challenge for me. I haven't been on dirt for a few years. That's going to be another challenge for me. I'm looking forward to it. I think it's going to be fun. Dirt late model I've never been in either. There's quite a few "news" here this week. I'm looking forward to it. It's going to be a good time to be able to race with our fellow competitors on dirt and see who's the best of all the rest.
Q. When your brother has incidents or something happens to you, do you think people sometimes put you in the same pile, where in your car afterwards you find out he's done something to get in trouble, you're like, Here we go again?
KYLE BUSCH: Sometimes you kind of feel that way. I mean, I guess you're going to have the questions asked and stuff like that. Because it is your brother, because you are siblings, it just comes up.
Whatever there is that happens, you try to make light of the situation as much as you can, I guess, try to put it behind you.
Q. How is your brother's attitude? I know he's been a bit frustrated. He hasn't won lately. Yesterday we saw his temper flare a bit. How is he doing emotionally?
KYLE BUSCH: Honestly I can't answer that. I only spoke with him lately after the All-Star race there. It was a short kind of one-subject conversation. That was about it.
You can see obviously in TV and around the racetrack and stuff like that that he does have some frustration and you can overhear him on the radio and stuff like that. There's times where he does have good cars, Texas he had an awesome car, and their fuel mileage put him out of position there to win a race. A couple weeks ago they had another good car, I think it was in the 600. They changed tires and all of a sudden it was spinning out loose on him. Just a tough break.
You know, everybody has those. Everybody goes through those. It's just about how you bounce back from those and how your team kind of reacts to those so you can come back for another day.
Q. Are you surprised that many drivers go to Prelude to a Dream? It's hard to get three to four at one time. Why do so many go there?
KYLE BUSCH: I think Tony definitely has brought it upon himself to make it a bigger event each and every year. This year he's definitely outdone himself.
The Tony Stewart Foundation, being a part of the Victory Junction Gang definitely means a lot to all the drivers. Being able to go out there and put a good show on for the fans, it's going to be fun. Once you get about eight of 'em invited, then more are more interested in it. They're like, Hey, this must be a pretty big deal.
It's cool to be able to have that and to have everybody wanting to go to support such a good cause, to race against all your fellow competitors. It's going to be like a NEXTEL Cup race on the dirt with some dirt late models, so it's going to be good.
Q. Does this mean you and Tony are getting along good now?
KYLE BUSCH: We're getting along. We're doing well. It's not that we don't get along for a long time; it's just that we may have some spurts at each other. Other than that, we've actually been good lately.
I've always been a big fan and supporter of Tony because he's always been a great race car driver and has always had a good head for charity and stuff like that off the racetrack and for other various reasons. I'm excited about going to El Dora to try to help him out.
Q. You've had some rough races in Busch and Cup. You mentioned you talked to Jeff Gordon, maybe Rick as well. What are some of the things they're trying to help you with so your mindset is a little different going into a race in the future?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, it's just been difficult. I mean, you look at some of the scenarios where it's just kind of been bad luck and you've been getting snake bit. You just have to put it behind you and go on. When your team is behind you, you have the support of your organization, your team, then it's easier. When you don't, when the team starts falling apart or not standing behind you the way they should, blaming you for some things, it's a lot more difficult.
So far we've been able to keep all of that up. The morale has been good around the shop. I'm sure Lynn would definitely help that out even more. You just have to keep going with what everything that has been thrown at you. You just try your hardest.
Q. How difficult has this week been with the rain-out on Sunday?
KYLE BUSCH: This weekend hasn't been too bad. It changed my week's plans a little bit. It's nothing that anybody could have caused. I mean, it's just a fact of nature that we had a rain-out there on Sunday. The race got moved to Monday. It was just a shame to hear about the passing of Bill France Jr. and everything there. The NASCAR family and community I'm sure is hurting today, as well as yesterday.
You know, we're looking forward to being able to go back at it here at Pocono this weekend and bring all the memories of Bill France Jr. with us there.
HERB BRANHAM: First of all, thanks to Kyle Busch for joining us today, taking some time out from your schedule. We appreciate it very much.
KYLE BUSCH: You're welcome. No problem. Thanks, everybody, for being able to come in today.
HERB BRANHAM: Thanks to the media. We always say we appreciate the coverage. Also like to add over the last couple days we've really appreciated the kind words, respectful words written and said regarding our vice chairman, the late Bill France. Thanks to all the media for that coverage as well.
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