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February 21, 2016
Daytona Beach, Florida
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by our third‑place finisher, Kyle Busch.
Kyle, you and your teammates finished first, third and fifth out there. Talk about the dominance of the Joe Gibbs Racing cars today.
KYLE BUSCH: I would just say it was more than willingness of working together than it was dominance of our racecars. Certainly we did have good speed. The guys at the Joe Gibbs Racing shop did a great job, Toyota gave us great power under the hood. I think us working together was the biggest motivating factor of us being up front most of the day.
Great day for Joe Gibbs Racing, really pumped for Joe to get back to Victory Lane here in the Daytona 500. Been a long time coming. Cool to see Denny score that victory, and all of us to run up front like we did.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. You mentioned, and so did Denny, about you guys talking last night about working together and coming up with a pretty definitive game plan. Can you elaborate on that a little bit.
KYLE BUSCH: No.
Q. Kyle, I heard Matt over and over saying again on the radio, Let's wait till we get to the checkered flag or back straightaway before we break up the JGR posse. Denny swung to the high line there. Did you have any intent on trying to do it earlier than that or were you trying to stick to what Kenseth was saying?
KYLE BUSCH: None of that was related to me. Pretty much, I figured it was five to go that it was every man for himself. So I still stuck in line there and was trying to continue to stay on the bottom. I didn't know if the outside was ever going to get going. They haven't in a long time throughout the day. There were some things that were kind of transpiring on the bottom.
Once Denny jumped up, he just got such a huge boost from the 4. Once he did it, I swore I thought about doing it. Once I thought about doing it and didn't do it, it was too late. That was it. You can't think that long and not make the move at the same time.
So I missed my opportunity. But, you know, that's racing. That's how it goes. It got a little hectic there in three and four. I wasn't sure we were all going to make it through there with as dicey as it got. Congrats to Denny, he got the job done and got the win.
Q. How does it feel one year later to be in the race, finishing the race, not being just watching the race?
KYLE BUSCH: I mean, it's good. It's definitely a lot better being in the race where I'm supposed to be rather than on the sidelines watching across the street.
365 days later, this could have gone two spots better and it would have been crazy to think of where we were. But we finished third. It's my best finish in the Daytona 500 thus far. We'll take that.
It's a good start to our season. We know we got really good racecars. We know how well all of us work together, myself and Adam Stevens, we can and should and will win plenty of these open races.
THE MODERATOR: Kyle, thank you for joining us today. Good luck next week.
We are now joined by our second‑place finisher, Martin Truex Jr.
Take us through the final lap there.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Finished second (laughter).
You know, it was a great day for our team. It was our first run in a Toyota. Having Bass Pro Shops, TRACKER boats back onboard, they've been great supporters of my career. Proud of how we worked together with the JGR guys. That was important for us to kick off the year, try to start to form that relationship, showing those guys they could trust us, that we're going to be a strong part of their team.
It was really amazing what we were able to do all day and really just control the race the way we did. First off, I've got to thank all those guys for allowing us to be a part of their team, especially the drivers today for working so well together and letting me be part of that.
The last lap, we were in great position behind Matt. Felt like if Matt would have stayed in front of us, maybe he would have probably held off Denny. He went up to try to block his run, Denny cut inside, made it three‑wide. Just side drafted me off of turn four all the way to the line. I felt like I had enough momentum to keep him behind me. I did all the way up until that last couple feet. He just shot out that last couple inches on me right before the line.
Wish I would have crowded him up the track a little bit more late down the frontstretch. Those are split‑second decisions. He came out on the right end of it today.
Like I said, proud of our effort, excited to start off the season this way. It's been a tough season down here. Our guys worked really, really hard. I think our backup car was the best car we had. In a way, it was a blessing to get in that wreck the other day.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Martin.
Q. Obviously Denny was the X factor there. Did you have a plan in mind for Matt Kenseth?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I was kind of content to stay where I was till off of four just because I wasn't sure who was going to be on that outside line. I knew I had Kyle behind me. They got outside of Kyle off of turn two pretty early.
So it was like I either jump in‑‑ at that time it was Harvick out there, I either jump in front of him or stay with Matt and Kyle. We worked so well together all day, I felt like I needed to stay in line until at least the front straightaway.
That was going to be my plan. You know, I feel like the move that Matt made is what gave me a chance of winning the race. I don't think that I was in a position to make a move because Kyle was behind me. I think he was planning on staying with me. So I couldn't just shootout before turn four without those guys jumping all over us.
Denny was kind of in a good spot where there were guys coming behind him that were already on the outside. They weren't teammates. He was the first guy to jump in front of them and get that momentum.
By the time they got to us, we were just kind of trying to get away from them still.
Q. It's ironic that your backup car and Matt's backup car performed so well. How much work did your guys put in to get that car ready for the race?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Well, quite a bit. I think most of the work was done back in the off‑season. They built four cars. The car that ran the Unlimited was the worse car we felt like we had. Typically you know you're probably going to junk that one, right?
We thought our best car was the car we had as our primary. But this car was really close. They worked really hard in season to make sure we had two really good cars. They worked a lot of time to get this one as good as what the primary was.
Cole said he thought it was really, really close. It was just a tiny bit off of the other one. But sometimes you have cars that you think are not quite as good and they end up racing better. I was really happy with our car today. I thought it was really strong. For sure I thought it was stronger than what we had Thursday night.
The race was a lot different today than Thursday night, as well. Handling was a big concern. There was a lot of guys that had their hands full. We worked hard on our handling today. We were off a bit at the start. Worked on it the first few stops. Got it where it was pretty dang good.
It was a different type of race than those night races. Our car was just really good today.
Q. I'm sure as well as you did last year, the switch in the off‑season probably had to have a little bit of nervousness to it. How did that feel coming into this? Did you feel you were going to be as strong as you were last year, or did you think there was going to be a learning curve?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I don't know. This is one race. This is Daytona. It's a speedway plate track. Everyone's done a great job. Our guys have really had a tall order this winter to switch everything over and start off with new chassis, bodies, suspension components. Everything under these racecars that we have are new to us.
First off, this is just one race. But feeling and seeing that teamwork we've had throughout the off‑season with JGR, how much they've supported us, been a part of this changeover, made sure we had all we needed, were doing things right, really guiding us through it.
For them to work with us the way they have throughout this week at the racetrack, and especially today for me personally, the drivers. We had a plan going into the race. We stuck to it. We really controlled the whole entire race.
It was great for me to show those guys that, hey, they can trust me to be part of their team. We're going to do everything we can to make them better. Honestly, it was just important to kick that relationship off right and show them what we're capable of. It was a great day for that.
Wish we could have won, obviously. Just going to have to watch that on the highlight reel for the rest of my career, I suppose, the rest of my life. I remember when it happened to Mark Martin, poor guy, been so close here so many times. They still show the highlight. The picture of that race is in the tunnel when you come in in turn one. I have a feeling I'm going to have to see that same thing for a long time.
It hurts a little bit, but a lot to be proud of, for sure.
Q. I know it's no consolation, I'm not trying to say it is, but 90% of the points that will be earned toward the championship will be run at tracks not like this one at all. Are you excited and optimistic, as most drivers are, about going to Atlanta and Las Vegas, places where this kind of stuff is a little bit more predictable?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Absolutely. To add to that, it's always really nice when you come out of this race with a good day. You start off with that momentum. You're not 30 points behind. You don't have to build another racecar.
So there's a lot of things that are positive about starting the season off right. Obviously we're looking forward to Atlanta, absolutely. I think it's going to be an incredible race. Lower downforce on the racecars than last year. I think the cars are going to be a real handful. It's going to be exciting.
I'm looking forward honestly to just kicking off that part of the season, getting to work, seeing how our cars are, where we stack up to the competition, then kind of get to work on what we need to do to compete for wins, try to get back to where we were last year.
I'm really looking forward to it. The anticipation is high. Be going in there with a little bit of momentum is always a good feeling.
Q. When Matt pulled out to try to block Denny, were you surprised that he did that? When you lose it by four inches, would you prefer to get beat by a half a lap? That's going to take a while to get over.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Thanks (laughter).
You'd rather get beat by a few feet than four inches, absolutely. At the same time, like I said, with where we were in position on the racetrack, I felt like Matt moving up to block that run, it gave us an opportunity to win. Without that, we weren't going to have that opportunity. Like I said, I was really planning on trying to push Matt till off of four. That was, I thought, the best opportunity we had.
The 11 came with a big run. Matt tried to block him. If he had blocked him, and Denny didn't turn back inside him, without a doubt in my mind we would have won that race. The 11 had a lot of speed on the 20 when he went to make that block. That's why he made it three‑wide and passed him. He's like, If I hit him, we're done.
I feel like we were in really good position just doing what we did. Circumstances didn't work out quite as well as they should have. I could have done a little bit different coming to the line. I felt like I should have run Denny up the track a little bit, but I didn't. It is what it is.
Q. On Friday night your brother finished second in the truck race, you finished second here today. A big weekend for the family.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, absolutely. Really proud of him for what he's done. He's had a rough go of racing the last couple years, trying to get a solid opportunity. These days with it being hard to find funding, he's been kind of shunned by a lot of teams he's drove for, did a good job for, because he couldn't find that backing.
It was great to see him persevere through those times and find a truck to drive. I think two weeks ago they put it together. It was great to see him back and excited about the opportunity. Obviously he did a great job. That was really fun to watch.
I'm sure I was more nervous the other night than he was today watching me. It's great to see him back at the track. He's going to hopefully run the full season in that truck. Hopefully he'll do a great job and put together some good results, and he can get his career back on track. He's a great driver. It's a shame he's had to go through the things he has and not be able to find a home.
Q. Obviously it's the last lap so there's going to be a big run. Was it surprising what kind of a run came from that top line? When you leave here, I'm sure you're going to go back and watch the video of the last lap.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I've already seen it (smiling).
Q. What did you look for? What were you trying to see?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I just wanted to see how much I got beat by. Honestly, I don't know that I could have done anything better to have a better chance of winning it.
The 20 tried to block the 11 and got wrecked because he didn't have the momentum. We were in the right spot, we made the right moves. Staying low when the 20 went high I thought was my best chance to win. It turned out that it was because we almost did. You can second‑guess all day long.
I think the only thing I should have done different was been a little more aggressive coming to the line holding Denny up the racetrack. That last split second when he pulled off my door, that was it. It gave him that couple inches to beat me to the line. If I had been rubbing him up the track a little earlier on, I think we would have been okay.
It's hard to make those decisions. I felt like I had the momentum, and I did till those last couple feet. So, you know, live and learn. I think if I get in that position again, I'll do it a little bit differently. First time I've ever been in that spot. I think we'll have a lot more opportunities to win races this year with racecars like that. Looking forward to getting better at taking advantage of them.
Q. Do you think you'll be able to flush it from this point on or will you sit here all night thinking about what you should have done?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Oh, I'm fine. I'm proud of what we did. Beats the hell out of what we did earlier in the week, getting crashed every race in the last lap.
It's my best finish ever in this race. Probably one of the strongest runs I've ever had at a restrictor plate track throughout the entire day. I'm proud of what we did.
Like I said, it was a big day for us for a lot of reasons. First time in a Toyota for Furniture Row. Bass Pro Shops onboard again for the first time in a long time. Everybody's excited. Everybody's extremely happy. Sometimes you just come up a little bit short.
But we're going to keep fighting and we'll come to Atlanta and try to win again.
Q. Did you think you had won?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I knew it was close. I knew it was really close. I didn't think either way. I just said, Damn, that was close. I mean, that was the only thing I could think of.
Tried to look up at the big screen as you do. My spotter was going absolutely ballistic on the radio screaming. I couldn't tell what the heck was going on. Did the best to beat him at the line, but just came up short.
Q. I wonder how much perspective has to do with your response here? How did that new life respect and everything you had to manage with Sherry and she's had to manage helps you manage this kind of moment?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I'm sure it's a big part of it. Two years ago I would have been sitting here with a sourpuss on my face. Today was a great day. We all want to win. This is competition. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to win.
But I realize the position I'm in, the opportunities I'm going to have this year. I'm going to have a lot more opportunities to win races. I feel like we did everything right today to put ourselves in position to win.
Sometimes things go your way, sometimes they don't. But I'm proud of what we did today. I'm just ecstatic to have the race team I have, to have my life going the way it is. I got it all right now and having fun. That's what it's all about.
We're going to race hard at Atlanta and feel like we can go there and do the same thing again, feel like we have a shot at winning. We're going to have a lot of opportunities to win this year. I'm just excited about that and thankful for the opportunities.
Q. You mentioned earlier the importance of wanting to work with the Gibbs drivers to show you could be trusted. Was that something you talked to them about?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I mean, we kind of had a plan that we wanted to get together. When we ran in practice in line, we were really fast. We felt like if we could ever get lined up, we could control the race, pull away from the field, kind of stay out of the big part of the pack, where we didn't want to be in a danger zone. So we kind of had an idea of how we wanted to do it.
But you never know till you get out there. It was just cool to see the teamwork, the way we were all able to work together. Like I said, we've raced together and have been competitors for a long, long time. For them to welcome us in as a group into their way of racing, part of their team that quickly and trust us, was a huge deal I thought. I was committed to do whatever it took to help those guys all day long.
Q. May sound like a superficial question. Was there ever any point during the weekend or all of Speedweeks where your spotter or anybody on the team or even you got yours and the 14 mixed up? You've had it black. Was it kind of strange? Was there ever a dicey moment for your spotter?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: No, actually, we didn't. We never had an issue with it. My spotter, Clayton Hughes, did a great job all day and all week to keep those two separated.
We weren't around each other quite often. I think there was only one point in time this whole race where we were kind of next to each other for a few laps.
But we were far apart most of the day. The guys did a good job of that. Obviously my spotter's done an awesome job. We keep getting more comfortable as we keep working with each other. This is our third year together. He's getting to be really good at the restrictor plate stuff. That was the biggest part of it. He was worried about focusing on our car all day and not worrying about looking around.
Q. Was there a time where you thought you had won the race?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: I honestly never thought I won. I just knew it was really close. When you get in those positions, you don't want to get all jacked up and excited like, I got him, I won, till you actually know. It's a bit of a letdown when you don't.
You never want to jump to conclusions in those deals.
Q. I heard some drivers report some interesting aerodynamics in turn three and four, in addition to the spinouts we had. Did you experience anything different on the track than you felt before?
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Yeah, I felt the track was definitely giving up a lot of grip. I thought today handling was way more important than it was last year in this race, and certainly a lot more important than it was Thursday night in our qualifying races.
It was awesome that it was warm today. That kind of came into play. I think Daytona's kind of getting back to what it used to be, which is going to be a lot of fun when it keeps losing grip, we can soften up the tires a little bit. Just all‑out handling.
It's fun when the cars slide around and you have to hold it wide open all day long. You're holding on. It's definitely more exciting and more fun to race that way. I thought this was a huge difference than how the track had been all week long.
THE MODERATOR: Martin, thanks for joining us this evening. Good luck next week in Atlanta.
MARTIN TRUEX JR.: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports