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November 11, 2018

Kyle Busch

Phoenix, Arizona

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by the winner of the Can‑Am 500, Kyle Busch, driver of the No.18 M&M's Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Q. Kyle, you didn't have to go out there and win that race, but in true fashion, you put a show on. How good does it feel to go into Miami with a win and the momentum?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, it certainly feels really good. It's better if you've got a shot to win to go ahead and win than to not. Obviously just the beginning of the race was not quite as good as we wanted it to be. We kept working on the car all day long, kept making it better. It was super good and strong on those restarts, and we were able to kind of pick some guys off and get ourselves farther up towards the front.
Wasn't sure what all was going to happen there with that‑‑ we came to pit road under green and then the caution came out and then being a lap down and all that, I thought that kind of ruined our chances for being able to have a win today. But overall just a lot of crazy things happened there at the end and got us in position to where we could capitalize on that, and it feels good to go off into next week with a win under our belt and hopefully do it again.

Q. One of the things that hasn't been talked about too much by the drivers is Victory Lane. What was that like, the new reconfigured Victory Lane there with the fans and all that interaction?
KYLE BUSCH: It was good. There's obviously a lot of heckling, but it's positive heckling. They're just chanting and telling you they love you and all kinds of other things. It's entertaining at times.
But while you're trying to do a job and talk to people and have interviews and things like that, they're screaming in your ear, so you've kind of got to figure out how to tune that out sometimes.
I mean, the setup was nice. Overall where the guys, where all of us kind of stand, where the photographers are, we need multiple levels, so like we can put guys down front or sponsor guests down front so there's multiple levels so people can be seen. That's my suggestion. Fix it. I don't know why people don't ask me what we need in Victory Lane. I go to enough of them. Just ask me what we need, all right? I'll fix them. (Laughter.)

Q. On NBCSN you said it did cross your mind if Almirola wins the race it eliminates Harvick. As someone who would never even let your son win a race, I'm curious how much that did cross your mind? Can you go into that a little bit?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, it crossed my mind, and having him alongside of me for a restart, you've always got to think about who you're restarting against and what their objectives are and what their agenda is. Obviously having the restart with Almirola next to me, he's going to try to do some things, so you've got to be ready for some of those moments and what's going to happen. But overall I just knew that if I got a good restart and just got myself out front and got clear that I could go away and not have to race any of these guys and worry about that.
You know, I was just kind of contemplating if he got by me and got in front of me, then what's next, you know, but my first‑‑ always first and foremost is just go away.

Q. (No microphone.)
KYLE BUSCH: I mean, no, I don't think the 10 was capable enough of being able to lead the race and not have somebody else pass him, know what I mean? Like if I would have let the 10 go and just rode behind the 10, then I think the 2 would have won, so that would have been dumb.

Q. Did this interruption, especially the two red flags, disturb your rhythm?
KYLE BUSCH: You know, sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't. Just I felt okay with it. You know, we had just pitted, I think, and then we rode around for a lap and then they called the red flag, so then we were kind of sitting there with brand new tires on the car. But it wasn't all that big a deal, so we were okay.

Q. And the second question is I think shortly after the race, Keselowski said he thinks he had a quicker car or faster car than you and he came close. Did you expect that he'd launch an attack at the final stages of the race?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, he was mounting one, that's for sure. He came from a little bit of a ways back and was closing in on us. I could see him in the mirror getting a little bit closer here and there. I was just trying to make sure I hit my marks as good as I possibly could those last 10 laps, and it seemed like for about the first five, I matched him time for time, and then after that, he was about a tenth faster than me.
That's just kind of the way our day was. We were really, really good on restarts for the first five especially, and then maybe for about 15 we could kind of hold guys off, and then after that it just seemed like others were better than us. But we didn't have to worry about that with the short run at the end.

Q. Did you get any damage in that incident between the 4 and the 38?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, just slight, yeah, damage. I don't know if there was a hole in the fender. I saw they put tape on it during our pit stop there, so there must have been something.

Q. Can you reflect on your 51st win and being 11th on the all‑time list?
KYLE BUSCH: I mean, that's awesome. Just to continue to capitalize on opportunities, that's what wins are. Today was one of those days where I wasn't sure we were going to be able to do that. The 2 was arguably the fastest car today. I think the 9 was, as well, too. I felt like we had a good top‑5 shot at it anyways, and with the restarts the way the restarts kind of went, it got us in position and got us where we needed to in order to go out there and push hard and try to gap those people off that restart there, the final one.
It feels good. It feels good to get 51. That's a special number to me. I like that number. It feels good to be able to continue to climb up the ladder of the all‑time wins list.

Q. Are there any clear favorites for the Championship 4 next weekend?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't‑‑ man, I don't think so. I don't know how you could pick a favorite necessarily. Harvick has won there, we've won there, the 78 has won there. You know, Harvick has beat us all. I beat Harvick the year I won. Truex beat both of us last year. I think it's just a matter of being able to go out there and race your race and do what you can with what you've got and have an opportunity to be able to be leading the race essentially on that last lap. That's what approximate it boils down to. Anything can happen in between, and we've seen it the last few years kind of how crazy things can get with the Logano and Carl restart, with last year me having to run down Truex and not quite having enough to be able to pass him. Some other years it's been kind of maybe anti‑climactic, but I would predict this is the best four, the closest four that have been in our sport in a long time.

Q. Any part of you wishes Harvick was up there at the end so you guys could just kind of race one‑two for the win just because he's been so good here and just kind of with all the drama surrounding him this week?
KYLE BUSCH: Um, no, not really. I'm actually kind of surprised that he didn't‑‑ that he wasn't closer to the 2, like he didn't come and fly up there and gain on me and get closer like the 2 car did. But I don't know what all went down there after the final restart happened. I was obviously focused on me and worried about what we had going on.

Q. During the race the points were really starting to fluctuate back and forth and back and forth and you were on the edge of possibly not making it and then making it and then not making it and making it. Were there any concerns that you might have had to point race instead of just having to really kind of protect what you had?
KYLE BUSCH: Yes and no. I mean, you always kind of go into a race thinking that you're wanting to win, but secondly that you have to have a good solid day, a good points day, if you will. I didn't ever necessarily think that we were on the cusp of falling out. I just figured that we would run as hard as we could. I know the furthest back we were at one point when we were a lap down and had to take the wave‑around and things like that that we were still, I think, okay, but I knew there was plenty of race left and opportunity for us to pass some guys and get farther up towards the front.
I was just focused on the job, task at hand, not where the points stood.

Q. During the race when your brother was leading the race, was there at any point where you were informed of that and you were thinking, would it be better to race your brother for a championship with Stewart‑Haas Racing as opposed to Kevin Harvick?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, obviously with the family tie there, that would be pretty cool, pretty special. I did see him leading the race and knew that would be his berth to be able to get into the Final Four. Obviously I would have liked to have seen that scenario happen, and that would have been pretty fun.

Q. It's been 13 years since you've won here. If I'm not mistaken, the second win of your career was here. What do you remember about that, and how are the emotions different at this point?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, this is a completely different time in my life, I guess, and it feels pretty good. It's really special to be able to win here today. This race here was being able to win at every single venue being with Joe Gibbs Racing. So that feels really special, as well, too, to be able to get that done. I crossed that off my list earlier this year but now was able to cross it off for Joe and everybody at JGR.
Just a great feeling. Love going to Victory Lane anywhere, but it feels really, really cool and special that we opened up the Richmond Victory Lane fan zone area with a win there, and we did the same thing here.
You know, now these wins are accounted for and now we focus on the next one, and hopefully that's next week.

Q. Obviously you let the race play out naturally and you won and Almirola didn't win, so had he won and then it was you two for Homestead, would it be any less satisfying if you were to beat him rather than beating Harvick who you've kind of competed with and dueled with all year?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, you always want to go up against the best of the best, and the strength of the season has kind of been the top three guys, the best three, which has been the 4, us and the 78, and the 22. The 22 has been solid. He's been consistent, and he's been good, especially these last nine weeks, eight weeks, I guess. He's kind of been the top scorer. He was in the first at weeks of the season, as well, too. He had a good run there.
So I think that this is a good group of four that we're going to race for a championship with.

Q. (No microphone) challenge against the 10?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, okay, you're‑‑ yeah, you want to race the best of the best, so you know, it's the best that are there and that we all probably thought would make the Final Four, and you know, there was obviously a lot of back‑and‑forths as to who could and what happens in this scenario and that scenario, but lo and behold, it all points to the top four guys.

Q. There was a lot of talk in TV, traditional and social media about what this format brings out in drivers. With the racing that we saw today, especially the second half of the race, and also both your brother and Aric Almirola, at least in my experience, showed more emotion than I'm typically used to seeing in terms of not being able to advance. Does that kind of emotion from the guys who didn't make it as well as what we saw on the racetrack, in your mind does that validate the validity of this format?
KYLE BUSCH: I haven't seen any of their emotion, obviously, but I can only imagine that it's pretty painful, you know, to not be able to transfer through, and for how hard you worked and for how close you have come. But you know, with this format, with this playoff structure, there's a lot of debate back and forth as to whether or not it's fair. There's nothing‑‑ there's no scenario that is fair unless it's your favorite driver that's winning it, right?
We all compete underneath the same rules, and we all know what those rules are going in, and you collect stage points for your bonus points for playoff points in order to help carry you through these rounds. That's important through the beginning part of the season, and that's where some of the guys made their bread and butter. For us, for instance, we struggled last week at Texas and weren't able to get back or recover from being two laps down, until way late in the race after it didn't mean anything anymore.
In that instance, we saved our season because of the way our season had gone, and everybody wants it to go back to zero for everybody so you've got to be the best in that three races. I don't agree with that.
So I think the format we have now is the absolute best scenario that you can have when you look at it across the board for the entirety of the year.

Q. Kyle, I asked you on Friday if you were going to prefer or seek a preference with the high line versus the low line on restarts, and then you saw the truck race and the Xfinity race and you had a lot of restarts at the front. You started both on the high side and the low side. Did you have a preference now from that experience?
KYLE BUSCH: I liked them both. I'm good with either. Whatever lane I'm in. You know, obviously there at the end, I was just choosing the bottom. I felt like the shortest distance to Turn 1 is the quickest way there, so that's kind of what my idea was there.

Q. You talked about you haven't won here in so long, and you haven't had maybe the greatest round, so how important was it to win this race going into Homestead?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't think it was a hundred percent necessary, but obviously it feels good to be able to score the win. You know, you always want to have good momentum on your side. I think this is the best thing for me for our team, to be able to know that we're ready to go for next week and we're as best prepared as we can possibly be. If we would have come out of here with a second or third or fourth or fifth or something like that, I think that would have been a positive day, as well, that we could have rode high going into Miami next week thinking that we'd still have a good shot to be able to go out there and perform the way we need to in Miami.

Q. You have three former champions and Logano who's been in the Final Four at least a few times, so does anybody have an edge as far as experience next Sunday?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't think so. I mean, we've‑‑ three of us have won in the format. All four of us have lost in the format. I think that that's pretty interesting the way that that kind of is. But overall, if you had to say, then I would say the three guys that have won, it lends to them more than the guy that hasn't been able to capitalize in that format.
But overall, again, it just goes back to you've got to have a lot of things go your way, and there's ways in these races that things don't always go your way and you've got to be able to rebound from those in those instances that you can when possible, and I think that we kind of did that here today. We tried to do that last week. We just could never get out of that hole. You know, it feels good to be going to Homestead with a shot and just kind of reset and focus on next week.

Q. You, Harvick and Truex will all be going into Miami trying to get a second championship. What would a second championship mean to your legacy if you're able to accomplish it?
KYLE BUSCH: I mean, it would be huge. I think that for me, I've been in the sport for a long, long time. I've seen my ways of losing them. I've found my way of being able to win one. So it's just one of the greatest joys in the world and one of the greatest defeats in the world that you feel on that given day, whether you win or whether you lose. To me, I think it would obviously be a continuation of my legacy in the sport and what I've been able to do and what I've wanted to accomplish here. You know, you want to be the best of the best, and that's better than anybody that's ever been here before. 200 wins, seven championships, whatever it is, you've just got to go out there and continue to collect your accomplishments and hopefully next week we can do that.

Q. I just wondered after everything that's taken place this season, would you expect anything less than to find the four of you at some point running one, two, three, four next week, and if so, how do you feel about the other three as far as having a fair fight?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, there's no question that there will be a point in next week's race that we will all be running one, two, three, four. It's happened every single time these last four years that I've been in the playoff race at Homestead, that all of us have been around one another at one point or another in the race. The long green flag runs tend to separate you a little bit more.
I remember the year that I‑‑ 2015, the year I won, Jeff Gordon was out there and we were all top four, top 5 riding around one another, whatever, and over the course of that long green flag run that we had, I think Jeff kind of faded and fell back to like eighth or ninth or something like that. Those are the times in which yourself and your team and your car and everything kind of brings itself to the forefront.
That'll kind of change the name of the game for who's got it and who doesn't.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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