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November 20, 2015

Kyle Busch

Rudy Fugle

Erik Jones

Homestead, Florida

THE MODERATOR: Let's hear now from our 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship team, and that is, the driver is Erik Jones. He drives the No.4 Toyota Toyota. The crew chief is Rudy Fugle, and the team owner is Kyle Busch, Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Congratulations to the No.4 Toyota in the Camping World Truck Series. Impressive, impressive season. Let's hear from our championship driver, Erik Jones. Talk about what it feels like to be a NASCAR champion.
ERIK JONES: Well, I think it's going to take some time to sink in, you know, but just an awesome season. Just a real team effort from the start, and some of the adversity we went through early on, and putting the team back together to championship form there for the latter part of the season and really going and working for the championship and earning ourselves a cushion coming into Homestead, and honestly still being able to run strong at Homestead all day. Just really proud of everybody. Just can't thank them all enough. Thanks to Toyota and TRD and just Kyle and Samantha for the opportunity alone. So many things had to come into play for me to even be here at this moment, so it's just pretty special for everybody.
THE MODERATOR: Rudy, talk about being able to get this championship. You've got nine wins in the Camping World Truck Series with two different drivers. Both of them are up on this stage here tonight. Kyle has five, Erik has four, and you're a championship crew chief, so talk about that. How does that feel?
RUDY FUGLE: That's pretty awesome. Definitely our goal with Phoenix last year where we knew that Erik was going to run full‑time, we set our goals to go win a championship, and to bring home the driver's championship for KBM and Kyle and Samantha is huge. But I can't thank my team enough, you know, all the guys that come on the road and then everybody at the shop. It's a great organization.
THE MODERATOR: Kyle Busch, you are a winner. You win on the racetrack; you win as a team owner. You've become the first team in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history to win three consecutive owner's championships, so congratulations to Kyle Busch Motorsports on that accomplishment. You have the most owner titles in the history of the series with four.
Talk about the ability now to also have a driver champion in Erik Jones.
KYLE BUSCH: It's an honor. You know, it's certainly been a lot of blood, sweat and tears over the years, but it's been pretty awesome, as well, too. I can't say enough about the people, everyone that's been at Kyle Busch Motorsports at the beginning, been there now or future. You know, it certainly has been pretty awesome to work with every one of those individuals, and it takes a lot of that in order to get the job done the way that we have over our existence in the series, and to set the record of winning an owner's championship the first year out was pretty awesome, and then to continue that on with different people on down the line with Eric Phillips and with Rudy and Jerry now, we'll see how that continues to go on down through the years.
But I can't say enough about the kid to my right. Erik Jones here is just awesome. He did a great job racing against me in South Florida, I guess the panhandle there in Pensacola, with having the opportunity to race in the Snowball Derby together. We had fun. I never would have expected to get beat by him in that race, but the last run of the race he did a great job. We raced clean, we raced hard, and he scored the victory, and I knew he was going to be good that day, and to get him signed up with Kyle Busch Motorsports and to have the opportunity to work with him over the last two seasons on the part‑time side and to get him ready for the full‑time side, you know, I'm thankful that he's stuck with me and that he believed in what our plan was for him, to give him this shot and to give him this opportunity, and I think he's got a lot of bigger and greater things to have on his plate with years to come.
All in all, though, I can't say enough about everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports, the chassis shop, painter, all the body guys, everybody that does such a great job that prepares these trucks and makes them so fast and so fun to drive, and bringing home championships every year.

Q. Erik, how would you describe your driving tonight? Was it smart, cautious?
ERIK JONES: Yeah, I'd say it was conservative. You know, I don't think we ever put ourselves in a position to be in a situation we didn't want to be in. I thought we did a good job of letting everything sort out and then kind of going to work and getting spots. It's a shame, I think we had a really good truck, but we never really needed to race or had the opportunity to go up and race with the guys up front. You know, we just kind of ran around the middle part of the top 10 all day, and that's honestly all we needed to do.

Q. For Erik, as you mentioned earlier, or alluded to, the first 15 races of the year you didn't have the point lead. The last eight races you did. Can you just talk about sort of your mindset over the final eight weeks and basically how you managed to just focus on protecting your lead?
ERIK JONES: Well, after Gateway back here in the summer months, we finished 23rd, and I think we were down 20‑something points to Crafton, third in points, and at that point I don't think I had the right mentality to go win a championship. I think we had the fastest trucks week in and week out, and you know, I think at that point we were just focused on winning races.
I kind of switched my mentality to the point of take the wins when we can get them, but we need to take these seconds, thirds, fourths and fifths when we can get them, as well, and not try to force anything. The last eight races or even a little bit before that we had a streak of top 10s here all the way to the end. I don't know the exact number it ended up at, but just finished in the top 10, being consistent, being competitive and running up front and contending for wins, that's all we needed to do throughout the rest of the year, and that's what we did.

Q. At this point you've won a Truck Series championship in your first full year. You've also had a taste of the Cup Series so far this year, substituting for Kyle and Matt and Denny. Ideally, what would your career trajectory be from this point on if you could design it yourself, and are you going to be content to spend a year in the XFINITY Series paying more dues?
ERIK JONES: Yeah, absolutely. I think the XFINITY Series is completely necessary. I have no problem with running a year as long as need be there. I don't know what the exact career path is for me down the road, and at some point, yeah, I want to race in the Cup Series every weekend, and I feel like there's a plan in place for that opportunity to arise, and I'll just keep taking what's given to me every week and go out and try to win races.

Q. Kyle, Erik was talking about some of the adversity and maybe his feelings after Gateway. Was there ever a time this year where you felt like I don't know if they've got it to win the title this year, and if you did feel that way, was there a point where you felt like, okay, they do have it?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't know that I ever doubted them with the opportunity that was given to both Rudy and Erik. You know, I felt like they were certainly missing on some things, and something just wasn't quite right there for a little bit. But I always believed and I always knew that they'd figure it out. I think Rudy is a great leader. I think he's done a tremendous job with Erik being a younger driver and having the emotions that I once had, as well, too, and trust me, they were probably still there two years ago.
Erik has done a lot of growing up I think in a short period of time, and it's also the limelight, but I think with the great people that have been around him, that we've had surround him, that's brought him to the level which he raced those final 15 weeks and top‑10'd it each and every week to end the season.
I never discounted our team or our trucks or Erik's ability or anybody. I just knew that sooner or later it needed to turn the corner, and fortunately they did that, and everything turned out well once they got through Texas I think was a rough night, and then Gateway was a rough night, then went to Iowa and put it right back on top. Since then they've seemed to do the right things.
There were a few other moments probably where things could have been derailed through the final 10 weeks, but they all did the right thing to focus forward and make sure that they just kept their head on and kept going forward.

Q. Kyle and Erik, can you talk about racing against each other this season? I know it was the first time you both raced against each other in the Truck Series. Can either of you talk about that, just being on the track for the first time since the Snowball Derby?
ERIK JONES: I just wanted to beat him, that's all.

Q. How did that go for you?
ERIK JONES: It didn't work out (laughter). You know, I was definitely excited about it. It had been a while since we got to race each other, and there's a nice little competition there that I want to go out and beat him. It makes it fun. It makes it exciting.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, no doubt. I had an enjoyable time racing against‑‑ racing my own trucks and just kind of feeling it out and knowing where our equipment stacks up. That's one of the main reasons I still like to get in it and make sure our stuff is really good, and we've got nice stuff for these guys to be driving.
You know, it was fun to race against Erik. Actually I remember it was Pocono, and Erik was super fast, and I was probably third quick. I wasn't even going to be close, and I told Jerry, I was like, man, you've just got to give me what Erik has got because whatever Erik has got I know I can beat him with it. It was that day that we had a good pit stop, we got out in front of him, he ran me back down. He was fast. He was faster than me at Pocono. But then later in the going, I think some restarts, they got kind of tangled up a little bit, and that was probably one of the moments I mentioned to Bob about how that could have derailed them, but they kept their focus on the task at hand and did a good job.

Q. Erik, you obviously started the year with aspirations of‑‑ this was the series you were competing full‑time in and wanted to win a championship, and there seemed to be during the course of the season many different things that took place: Kyle's injury, Matt's suspension, getting in for Denny, things that you never anticipated going in. Now that the season is over, you've won the championship. All of those other experiences, looking back, did they add to helping you get to this point, detract some, a mixture? How would you rank?
ERIK JONES: Well, looking back on it, I think at the beginning of the year, I had obviously the full season here and then I had probably around 11 or 12 races in the XFINITY Series, which put me at 34, 35 races, something like that, which is a normal load of races, and then all of a sudden I had a stacked plate every week, and I was kind of all over the place, and at first it was a little overwhelming, but once we kind of got in the groove of it and got used to it, I think it was definitely a good experience for me just to be in and out, working with different people, different crew chiefs, different teams, driving different cars, and honestly, some of the biggest things that helped me was those Cup races this year, just being in those cars and seeing that level of competition and trying to adjust myself, and I think all it did was really better myself, especially at this level.

Q. Kyle, you've obviously left your mark in the history books of the Camping World Truck Series. What's the next goal? And you've got some other powerhouse drivers in the wings; what would you like to see continue for KBM?
KYLE BUSCH: I think that in this day and age, you know, we're pretty pleased with where we're at in the Truck Series. We did the XFINITY thing, and unfortunately it's just too hard to compete against the Cup guys at that level. Maybe 15 years ago we probably could have done it, you know, but as I said, this day and age, we're good with where we're at. I feel like Kyle Busch Motorsports chassis, those guys, they do a great job building us our chassis for our Tundras, and we build all kinds of stuff through the chassis shop, but I'm really looking forward to the future of Kyle Busch Motorsports with Erik going on and doing bigger and better things.
That's what our program is. We help the younger kids try to come up through, give them a good opportunity to succeed in some good equipment, and you know, they've got to make the most of it. It's their opportunity. Just like Erik Jones here, you know, we brought him up through with a part‑time schedule, and he did the most of it. He won a race, a couple of them the first year, or Phoenix?
ERIK JONES: Just one.
KYLE BUSCH: Just one, and then last year won a few, and then this year again he won a few. That's how I foresee it going. We don't have any part‑time kids next year, I guess besides Cody Coughlin, but with seeing what Chris Bell has done these last few weeks at Texas, he drove up to the front again tonight, he drove up on the front on fresher tires, but there's going to be a learning curve there. I don't expect us to be able to come out next year and contend for a championship. I would certainly love it if we did, but realistically, you know, I think there's going to be a growing year there for the drivers, and hopefully the crew chiefs can do exactly what Rudy has done here with the younger drivers and keep their heads on them and keep them straight and be successful.
If we can win some races next year with Chris Bell and William Byron and Cody Coughlin and Daniel Suarez, then that's going to be a by‑far successful year to get each one of those four drivers into victory lane.

Q. When you guys started KBM in 2010, did you imagine it would be as successful as it is today?
KYLE BUSCH: I did, of course. I wouldn't have done it if I didn't think that we could be successful at it. I always thought it would be somewhere that I'd kind of have a golf game and just enjoy racing late models and trucks and go have some fun, but it's certainly turned into a better business than that, and we've gotten the opportunity to work with some great young talent that's been able to now accomplish a championship. And we've done the owner's championship thing for a few years, but I've always wanted to grow it past that into these younger drivers and their abilities to get championships at a younger age and to progress on through, and it takes good people, you know, from Rudy and Jerry, to Eddie and the chassis shop guys, everybody that's at Kyle Busch Motorsports. It's hard to keep people in the Truck Series. You know, they either want to go venture off and grow and do bigger and better things, or sometimes the money is just not good enough because we've got a budget. You've got to stay within the budget, and these guys know all too well on how to do that. So just been fortunate to have those good people stick around as long as they have.

Q. And despite their inexperience for next year, would you be surprised if William Byron or Christopher Bell were sitting in this position a year from now?
KYLE BUSCH: I would not be surprised. I'm not counting on it, but I would not be surprised. I think Chris Bell has obviously learned a lot I'm pretty sure over these last six weeks of racing in the Truck Series and getting his feet wet more and more on pavement and mile‑and‑a‑half racing, the aero side of things and everything. And William Byron obviously having his debut last week, it didn't quite go as well as we would have hoped, but I still think he showed plenty of potential in practice running up front, or qualifying up front, and having the opportunity to race up front, but I look forward to the off‑season just being able to sit down with those guys, talk to them and teach them some things, and I hope Erik is still willing to help them out as much as he can if they've got questions for him. Obviously Erik running this full season, he's been in the truck a heck of a lot more than I would have been in the truck, so I don't necessarily have all of the answers for those guys on what they can do better, but Erik will, and so I feel like he's a KBM guy here on out, from this time forward through his whole career. He's won his first championship for us. He's a business guy now. He's a company man.

Q. Erik, going into this final race, how conservative was the No.4 team's approach to this race?
ERIK JONES: You know, from a setup standpoint, not conservative at all. We went into this weekend with the sense that we're going to prepare a race‑winning truck like we would any other week, and I think from a strategy and a driving standpoint, you know, it's definitely more conservative. We had no reason to try to bulldog our way to the front to win a race or get up in the fence. I ran left side tires on the seam all day. I never had to go up and run the wall. There was no reason to. And we ended up sixth. So that's honestly better than I thought we would do, as conservative as we were running all day.
Just never really challenged anything on the restarts. I think about every restart we lost a spot or two and then had to work to get it back over the course of the run. Conservative, yeah. We just honestly did what we needed to do.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations to the No.4 Toyota team, Kyle Busch Motorsports, driver Erik Jones, crew chief Rudy Fugle, and team owner Kyle Busch. Congratulations.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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