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May 7, 2016
Kansas City, Kansas
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by the winning crew chief in tonight's race, Adam Stevens. This is the third win of the season for this team. Talk about the win today.
ADAM STEVENS: Yeah, you know, it's always cool to get to Victory Lane. But to knock off another place that KB hasn't won at is really special.
He's got a very storied career, done a lot of great things. To help him accomplish the few things he hasn't done is really cool.
It was a tough race. A lot of adjusting with the track conditions changing. Groove really widened up, which was really good to see. Lots the pit strategy and an overall solid night for the 18 team.
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with questions for Adam.
Q. Did you go the last 56 laps without pitting?
ADAM STEVENS: Yeah, we pitted under green the last time.
Q. What was the thought process there? Obviously a lot of other guys came in. Why were you so confident your car would hold up the last 56 laps?
ADAM STEVENS: Hadn't seen much speed in tires all night, not much tire falloff. We'd only gone about 25. It was about the perfect time to make that call. A little bit longer would have been harder to make the call and you'd have had less laps to pass the cars.
It's just so hard to pass and the cars are so even. As soon as you get the track position, you need to do all you can to maintain it.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by the winning driver, Kyle Busch.
Kyle, you have now won at 21 of 23 active Sprint Cup Series tracks. Talk about hitting that milestone today.
KYLE BUSCH: It was a really great day. I didn't know that we'd have that much speed in our racecar. I guess I should have known. But Adam and these guys, you know, they continue to impress me each and every week.
We had a top‑five car going there in the beginning part and middle part of the race. We just kept making improvements to it, kept making it better. There with about two runs to go, we kind of got on the tight side. I felt like we had decent speed. I really didn't know what to do to make it any better.
After that final pit stop, we kind of got on the free side and were a little bit loose. Matt was catching us there. Those last couple cautions gave us the opportunity to kind of the cool the tires down and go back at it again with some of those other guys.
They had tires. But when you're out front and you focus on hitting your marks and hitting the restart and doing what you can do, then you get an opportunity to try to drive away.
Harvick was making it tough. He was right on my bumper there for a few laps. I kind of pulled slide job off of turn four, cut it a little bit close. We touched a little bit. After that, I kind of refocused on being able to hit my marks and hit the line that I was running before the caution came out where I was really fast. From there, I was kind of able to pull back away and do what I needed to do in order to try to win.
THE MODERATOR: We have the remainder of our winning team, owner Coach Joe Gibbs. Another great victory for Joe Gibbs Racing, the fourth different driver you've won with here at Kansas. Talk about that.
JOE GIBBS: I have to tell you, these two guys here have just done a terrific job. I don't know if any of our teams have ever been this hot and been up front every single week. It's great to watch it. It's great for M&M's, Toyota, everybody back home.
I called J.D. and everybody. We appreciate everybody working so hard back at the shop.
It's a total team effort. I say that all the time. We got everybody back at the shop working on the cars. We have Mars, one of the most powerful companies in America. It takes all of us to do this, to be a part of this.
Then to have Kyle as hot as he is right now, it's very hard in pro sports. The hardest thing in pro sports is to stay up there every week. Right now it's been a thrill.
We love coming to Kansas, this part of the country. Our sponsors and everybody here, really appreciate it. It's been a thrill for us.
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue with questions.
Q. Kyle, when you haven't won a Cup race at a place, do you lack any confidence, am I doing the right thing, when you have a lead with a guy on your tail?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, actually. Yes, to answer your question. It was more so when we came off of pit road. For some reason I was a little bit loose. I was trying to take care of my tires and make sure I wasn't slipping 'em and overheating 'em. But Kenseth was catching me. I was like, Okay, I got to go. I got to find some speed. I wasn't able to find any. At that moment, I'm wondering, Okay, what am I doing wrong, what am I doing different from the previous run and why am I in this position?
Fortunately, like I said, those couple restarts that I got, I just had a chance to regroup, resettle in and get my car back underneath me. That was the key for us.
Q. Does this give you any insight into what the All‑Star Race might be like with guys out on old tires in front of guys on new tires?
KYLE BUSCH: It's going to be interesting, that's for sure. I think, you know, the tire's going to be different at Charlotte. The amount of time guys are going to be on their tires is going to be different. The racetrack is different, of course, too.
I'm hoping that the Charlotte Motor Speedway will lend itself to multiple grooves. If it lends itself to multiple grooves, and we have a racetrack we can race on, I feel like it will be a pretty good show.
If it's anything like last fall where we were kind of all mired around the bottom, that wasn't very much fun. We weren't able to do anything. You couldn't really pass anybody.
Especially with these cars, when you get directly behind guys, you just have to slow down in order to get the front of the car to cut for the center of the corner.
With the new rules for the All‑Star Race, with reducing skew, that's not going to help them turn any better. It's going to make it worse. We'll just have to see how all that plays out.
Q. Kyle, could you talk about what it means for you to in a sense kind of sweep this weekend?
KYLE BUSCH: This is pretty cool. Certainly this is a place that's been tough on me over the years. Probably almost caused me to go into retirement. But fortunately for myself, maybe Joe, too, that I didn't do that and we're here fighting for another race win. Having a great time here in Kansas this time around.
I guess it all depends. You got to put it in perspective sometimes what's kind of going on in your race team and around you.
But to win last night in the truck race, to win tonight in the Cup race, it certainly means a lot to me, it means a lot to my wife, what we've been able to accomplish as team owners.
Of course, my Sunday job, my real job, what I've been able to do with this team, this M&M's team with Adam Stevens and Joe Gibbs.
Q. How impressive is it that Kyle has won on all but two tracks? No matter what it is, he seems to find a way to Victory Lane. Have you ever had a driver that you can compare that to?
JOE GIBBS: I don't know that I have. What I said is I want to get to the two he hasn't won at. He's hot right now. He and Adam are hot.
I know it was a big deal for him. We know he can win anywhere. I do think, you know, sometimes it's amazing to me that you hear some drivers really like someplace, really don't like some other place.
But I think Kyle here, we've had our tough times, but I think he's battled back to a point where I think, you know, he really can win anyplace. So it will be exciting when we get to the next two places.
Q. Kyle, May 29th Charlotte, June 5th Pocono. What would it mean to you if you can check those two off here as well, if not this year but in the future, be the only active driver to have won on every track in the series?
KYLE BUSCH: There's one person in this room that definitely wants that to happen because it will bookmark her birthday week. That's my wife. She's putting the pressure on I'm sure that we have to go out there and score those wins at Charlotte as well as Pocono.
I look forward to the challenge. Every single week, every single year, everything's a challenge. We do this for many reasons. But for me it's just the challenge of being able to go out there and to continue to try to thrive and be good at what we do, to win championships, win races.
It's certainly been some tough roads along the way here at Kansas, but it's certainly nice to win this one. I look forward to being to hopefully knock off some more this year at Charlotte and Pocono to complete the list.
Q. Kyle, you hadn't won at this track before, except for top‑five finishes. How does it feel to finally get the monkey off your back?
KYLE BUSCH: It feels great. I wouldn't call it a dream come true, but it's certainly been some horror dreams here before. This is certainly a lot better one.
So it's nice to just be able to accomplish the things that you set out to try to accomplish. Having some of those racetracks being ones that have been very difficult for me over the years, this one here especially at Kansas, it's great to have that monkey off your back.
As I just told Adam on the side, I guess there's no more excuses when we come to Kansas.
Q. Joe, your drivers all have a win under their belt. Is there anybody that is the weakest link?
JOE GIBBS: We actually have Matt that does not have a win. He's had a strong car. He had a strong car again tonight.
I felt like we were a little bit off with that car. Obviously the 78 is also a teammate of ours. We pull hard for them. That's the reason why I hated what happened tonight.
But in a sport where we have so many great teams, great owners out there, it's so competitive, this is very, very hard to get on a hot streak.
So I really appreciate it. I know how hard it is to reel several races off like this, so I'm going to enjoy it.
Q. Kyle, with a fifth last year, winning tonight, is the Kansas curse over?
KYLE BUSCH: Say that again.
Q. After a fifth last fall here at Kansas, a win tonight, can you consider the Kansas curse over?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't know. Hopefully. That's for darn sure.
I think the time before that that I was here, I didn't run the spring race here last year, so you have to go back to the fall before that. I finished third. So third, fifth and first here in my last three starts. I'd say we've got something going for us. It's real nice to have some good finishes like that, some solid runs here at Kansas, having a better feel for what the racecar's doing on the racetrack, being able to make speed.
Q. What about the 600? Did you learn anything tonight that maybe you could apply to May's race in Charlotte?
KYLE BUSCH: Again, you know, it's going to be a different tire, different track. I don't think you necessarily pick out too many things here tonight at Kansas that you can apply to Charlotte.
I'll run the truck race there. I'm not running the XFINITY race there. I'll have some experience being able to run the truck race there, kind of get my feet wet, the lay of the land, how the racetrack feels with the tire. Then, of course, go after them in the All‑Star Race.
Q. Kyle, this is your eighth win since you came back last year. With your history with this track, where does this win compare among those eight since you came back?
KYLE BUSCH: I think Homestead is first, obviously. I think Brickyard's got to be second. I think Sonoma, winning there with all the things, all the adverse things going for me with my legs, being able to win in just my fifth start back. Somewhere in the middle, bottom middle.
This year is a win that means a lot because it's an opportunity for us to showcase that we can win at every single racetrack. We're two short of that. But this is a racetrack that's in the Chase. So this is why you always tend to‑‑ you want to run well at these places in order to just make sure you have good notes and a solid foundation to be able to return.
Q. Coach Gibbs, with the number of different drivers that your team has put in the winner's circle here at Kansas, what is it about this facility that has allowed your team to be so successful?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, I don't think you can actually say any one thing. But I know our guys love coming here. This is an important deal for us, just like Kyle said. It's going to be in the Chase. It's a big deal.
I think our fan base here, too, is super important to us. Our sponsors, they come here. I think we're fortunate right now that we have very good drivers and crew chiefs, guys who are working hard back at the shop.
But we also know that in pro sports it comes and goes in a hurry. So we're just trying to concentrate, work hard, try and keep what we got, 'cause we know those other guys are working hard also.
Q. Kyle, tonight you had a couple interesting comments on the radio. You said if Adam can make some certain changes to the car, you knew it was going to be fast. What feel were you getting with that to know about 80 into the race? Also, what is the 'make a note about the caution car lights'?
KYLE BUSCH: I can't tell you. That's why I said, Make a note. We talk about that stuff in private behind closed doors (smiling).
One of the things that I was feeling, I was just too loose tonight. The back of the car, it wasn't sideways loose, I could just feel it. It was moving around a little too much. When you have that going on, you just overheat the rear tires. I just needed to be tightened up a little bit.
That was at that point in the race that I felt like if we could‑‑ I felt like if we could fix that balance, I'd be faster. When we did that, we had it fixed, I was pretty good two runs from the end. I was driving away from everybody behind me but I was not catching that 78 car.
It seemed as though the top two cars and speed were in the top two positions. It was kind of going to go down in order.
Q. Kyle, since your injury, you've come back stronger than ever, quicker than anybody imagined. Would you say this has changed your mindset as a driver, the challenges you faced? Has it changed you behind the wheel?
KYLE BUSCH: I wouldn't give me all the credit. I've certainly had a lot of great people surround me. I had a lot of great help with my medical team and everybody that helped me get healthy, my wife especially, all the care she took of myself while she was seven months pregnant and everything that was going on at home.
More importantly, maybe not more importantly, but just as important is Adam Stevens, the relationship he and I have, the time we spent with one another in the XFINITY Series, being able to get to know each other.
I think, too, the time he had crew chiefing without me, with David Ragan, Erik Jones, Matt Crafton, those guys that drove my racecar, understanding and getting to know them, how to make the racecar better for when I returned, that it was just ready to change the name above the door, get back at it.
I'd say I had a little bit different demeanor, way about going about these races. I don't think anything in these races is going to be as tough as being able to go through the things I went through with physical therapy and being able to get back.
Q. You talked about Charlotte being locked down on the bottom. Kansas Speedway, looked like you could run at the top and bottom. Late on the final run, you were in the middle of the track, pulled away from Kevin. Maybe that was because the car was a little too free at that point. Talk about where you ran at the end of the race and during the race because the track was nice and wide.
KYLE BUSCH: This track is really starting to season and really starting to come in well. I'm pretty impressed. Certainly here the last few years, from the repave on, it's been really frustrating and really just a groove around the bottom, very slick. The tires have basically a razor blade edge, a grip. You got all the grip in the world until you don't, you're spun out, you're gone.
Now these tires are starting to slide around a little bit, you can use the track to your advantage, you can move all over the place.
I think that's a testament to the aero rules, too, taking some downforce away from the cars, being able to move around this racetrack.
I ran every single groove tonight. I was on the bottom, the middle, the top, in between, everywhere. There were certainly different times during the race that those different grooves were faster. You just had to kind of pick and choose which times you wanted to be in those grooves.
But the middle seemed to be the best for me all night long. I actually learned that from my teammate Matt Kenseth, not only here last fall, but following him early in the race when I let him go, I kind of got a chance to see what he was doing, just kind of picked apart what he was doing to be able to help myself for later in the race.
Q. Coach, before you went to the Victory Lane, you stopped on pit road and had a few words with Martin. Could you talk about that.
JOE GIBBS: I felt so bad about that. I wanted to first of all find out. As soon as we found out, everybody took pictures of it, you could see. We had that one other time. It's a bolt on the inside that bolts the inside plate, and the head broke off. When it did, it turned. When it turned, it kept the tire from going on.
I just felt so bad for our teammate like that. So I just stopped there with Martin and said, Hey, Martin, I explained what happened.
He was great. He said, I figured something like that happened.
They were, to be quite truthful, they were killing it all night. They were really fast.
THE MODERATOR: Adam, Kyle and Coach, thanks for joining us this evening and congratulations on the win.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports