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February 17, 2019
Daytona Beach, Florida
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by our second‑place finisher, Kyle Busch, driver of the No.18 M&M's Chocolate Bar Toyota.
Q. For the conversation on the final restart with letting Denny come in, what was the consideration there? And were you opposed to that plan?
KYLE BUSCH: It's first and foremost to try to make sure that we at least get a JGR car to Victory Lane. They didn't want to do it the previous restart, but then since he got the lead, he wanted to do it again.
You know, it is what it is. Just at least we got a JGR car in Victory Lane. That's the big picture. That's what matters, and we move on.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by our fourth place finisher, Joey Logano, driver of the No.22 Shell‑Pennzoil Ford.
Q. Just for clarification, we've seen so much different kinds of racing this weekend. What were some of the characteristics that made the action on the track today different than what we saw with the Cup cars earlier in the weekend?
JOEY LOGANO: I don't know, maybe the race is bigger, the pack is bigger. Seemed like you could get more cars to go down there. That's probably what it was, instead of a 20‑car field, you've got 40 cars, and 30 of them really racing. Seemed like there was times that you had enough cars down there that the bottom was stronger for a while, and I thought that was fun kind of working the lanes back and forth, and tires will start wearing out and cars were wiggling around the racetrack and then the top would start to prevail again.
It was a lot different race than what we were all expecting. I was expecting us all to be up against the wall, and quickly found out pretty early in the race that this was going to go a lot different than what we thought it was going to.
Q. How was the racing today? Did you guys like it? And is there anything that could be done to avoid all the wrecks in the last 10 laps?
KYLE BUSCH: I thought the racing today was pretty good. Like Joey said, I think having a full field of cars obviously just allowed the bottom to materialize and have enough strength down there to be able to keep some momentum rolling and not everybody just being able to be so strong around the top.
There was some good racing today. I thought the two‑wide, sometimes the wide‑three action, sometimes the mixing it up guys would get loose and get shuffled out, was pretty intense there a few times, and I wouldn't say that much needs to be done. Maybe we just don't need to have races with 20 cars on the track, we need 40.
Q. Kyle, what does this win mean for the organization, having J.D. passed away a few weeks ago?
KYLE BUSCH: It's obviously very, very good, and a boost of confidence and everything else for everybody included with Joe and all the things that Joe and the family had gone through over the last few weeks. And losing J.D., it certainly is a very bittersweet situation for myself because I'd have much rather have been the one to win the race and be in Victory Lane and celebrating with my team and with everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing and being a part of the J.D. celebration, but overall, you know, you couldn't be more thrilled for all the 500 people back at Joe Gibbs Racing that knew and respected and obviously looked up to J.D. for the person that he was and for the relationships that he gave all of us.
Q. For both of you, I've only gotten the chance to see the replay once, so I haven't exactly processed what happened, but, Joey, it looked like you were upset with McDowell because coming into 3 and 4 he goes with Kyle and you're feeling like if McDowell sticks with you there, you have a chance to get a run on Denny; is that correct? And then, Kyle, what did you need like run‑wise or somebody help‑wise to catch Denny there?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I was just‑‑ when Kyle got a great run down the backstretch, there was no blocking that move. We were going to crash if I was going to try to block that one, so I had to let that one go. And I thought with the blue oval behind him that the Ford would come with me.
It's kind of the choices that you have to make, and you have a split‑second decision on all that. And typically you kind of expect manufacturers to work together like the Toyotas do or the Chevys do, and just was expecting that, as well, in that moment coming to the checkered flag. I was very surprised by his decision.
KYLE BUSCH: And for me, I was trying to back Joey up at the entrance to pit road and through the tri‑oval and try to build that energy between Joey and who was behind him. I can't remember who it was at the time. I think it was the 47. And coming out of the tri‑oval, Joey just pulled left and got to my inside and made it two wide instead of giving me the shove. It was his race to go win, as well, too, it just didn't happen.
THE MODERATOR: We're joined by our third‑place finisher, Erik Jones, driver of the No.20 Sport Clips Toyota.
Q. There was a lot of talk after Thursday about the Fords, but tonight the Toyotas came out on top. What does that say about the Toyotas? Were they out‑performing or outlasting?
KYLE BUSCH: I thought the Fords were really, really strong still, especially when they got themselves in a group and they had eight of them in single file, whatever. They were pretty fast. But then there were times out there certainly that the 95 led a lot of laps, we led a lot of laps. We got out front.
There at the end I think it was just track position, how we came off pit road. The 11 and the 18 kind of kept the front of the field at bay for the rest of the day after‑‑ with 30 to go.
I think it was pretty evenly matched as the day went on, and we kind of saw that some of the Toyotas and‑‑ I don't know if it was just coincidence or what, but some of the Chevys were kind of working, and the speed was there in those situations to keep up with the Fords.
Q. For you veterans, are y'all happy to be done with the restrictor plate era? Or are you sort of uncertain about what's down the road? Do you just take it as it comes?
JOEY LOGANO: I think you just take it as it comes. It's kind to‑‑ the racing is going to change. It's going to be different when we get to Atlanta than we've ever had before. We don't really know‑‑ expect the unexpected, I guess, just like we were for the Daytona 500. You just don't know how those races are going to play out, and each track is going to be different.
Like I said on media day, you're going to have to give it some time to really understand if it's better or not or what to like or dislike about it because as these teams evolve and start to figure out this setup, you're going to see the racing change again. What you see in Vegas one to Vegas two is probably going to be a little bit different. If we give it time and give it a chance, we'll see what happens. We'll all know next week.
Q. Joey, out there Michael McDowell talked to me afterwards about your conversation. He said that he's paid to drive his car, not yours, and even though you guys are both Fords he was trying to go to win, he felt like you had a lot of damage and didn't feel like you would be fast at the end?
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, at that point he wasn't going to win. He'd have to pass dial.
KYLE BUSCH: He jammed on the brakes getting into Turn 3 anyway. Pretty much just put Joey and I alongside and ‑‑
JOEY LOGANO: Neither one of us got the push on that deal.
KYLE BUSCH: Whatever. (Makes screeching sound.)
Q. On that note, I've got two questions, first for Erik, I'm still trying to figure out where you came from. Where did that run from 3 to the flag come from for you to make this a one‑two‑three finish for JGR?
ERIK JONES: You know, the car was still pretty good after the damage. It looks really tore up, but it went down the straightaway really good. The Sports Clip Camry was pretty quick all day. I think had we got had our issue and had to pit, we could have been right up there with Kyle and Denny for the remainder of the race, hopefully without damage.
But we just got some big runs, holes opened up and those guys were up there trying to fight for position, and as they were doing that, I was able to go where they weren't and had a big run each way other and get a few spots. I knew I probably wasn't going to win, but just maximizing points at that point.
Q. For Kyle, we heard the radio with a couple to go before, I think 2 to go in regulation where you got told the 11 wants to race now. How tough is that to balance when to call teammates off in the final laps, and did you think this was your best shot? Did you feel like this was your best shot yet to win the 500?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, the 11, we try to work together as much as we can. You kind of see it sometimes at other racetracks, as well. But here at restrictor plates, when you have guys like that up front, you try to work together as much as you can, and that situation kept presenting itself, and it just was what it was.
I'd much rather see a JGR car‑‑ no offense, but I'd much rather see a JGR car in Victory Lane more than anybody else. So I felt like keeping our strength in numbers lined up was going to be the best we could be.
And what was the second part?
Q. Was this your best shot to win‑‑
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, this was probably the best shot to win. Being up front that much at the end of the race and having the track position and being in those positions on those restarts and what not, that one restart where Denny wanted to race, I took the bottom because I felt like having the 14 behind me, and the 14 was pretty fast, and the 22 was behind him, I felt like that was going to be‑‑ no, you were on the outside, it was the 34. I felt like that was going to be a good lane for me to be in front of, and they came off of 2 and they all spread out, and that's when the 14 got crashed, and then the 11 had the lead because he was ahead at the time. So that kind of cost us.
And then he wanted to go back into teammate preservation mode again. Kind of funny how it swaps back and forth a little bit, but it is what it is.
Q. Kyle and Joey, you guys both have over 10 years of restrictor plate experience. Relatively tame race until the last 10 laps. There was one multicar crash until the last 10 laps. Last 10 laps, three crashes, two massive, two red flags. Was that just the case of the overoptimistic driving and aggression you see toward the end of a plate race?
KYLE BUSCH: Pretty much. Brains come unglued. That's all it is. Everybody just‑‑ the brain connection from right up here to the gas pedal foot doesn't quite work the same anymore. There's a lot of give and take and a lot of guys that play the game and race the race throughout the beginning portion of the races, and then it comes down to the end, and somehow some way there's always that caution within 30 or 40 to go that sets everybody off pit road and then it's chaos after that.
You know, that's just the fact of the matter. I think I've been caught up in plenty of those. It was nice to be in front of all of that tonight.
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, you know it's coming. And especially this race, you know what's on the line. It's the Daytona 500. No one is really worried about points or getting themselves into the playoffs yet. Everyone is thinking, I want to win the biggest race of the year, and like Kyle said, the brains come unglued, and instead of people kind of giving light shoves down the straightaway, it becomes full‑on attached all you can‑‑
KYLE BUSCH: Juan Montoya style. Like you're looking at your mirror and you're waiting and you're waiting and they just run right through you‑‑
JOEY LOGANO: And then you get the squirrellies down the straightaway.
Q. The fuel pump issue you had, do you know what that was?
ERIK JONES: No, I don't know. I was just driving down the front stretch and lost fuel pressure, and it was running, but just not very good. It ran terrible all the way back to pit road. I got to pit road, pulled into the pit stall, and I said, now it's running fine, so I took back off and I ran the rest of the race. I don't know.
Q. The J.D. factor, coming up here to Daytona, to have this unified effort and bring it home one, two, three, extra special?
ERIK JONES: Yeah, for me it is. I think for everybody it is. Obviously we all miss J.D., and to come here and have such a good run‑‑ we had a good run but we had really good cars all weekend. We had good speed, and to come out one, two, three, it's pretty neat, and not only that, we were up there in contention all day, so that was a great day for us overall. Pretty story book I would say.
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, I'm not a Gibbs driver, but for what J.D. has done for my career is the reason why I'm sitting here today. As bad as I want to win it, it is pretty cool to think that the first race after his passing, to see those guys one, two, three, it just says he's up there watching and maybe gave you guys a little extra boost there at the end. Congratulations to them.
I do think that's cool. I can at least remove myself enough to look at that and say that's a really cool story for you guys to write about.
Q. Erik, the fact is J.D. Gibbs aside, you knew him the shortest of anybody up on the dais. What did he mean to you? And also the historical perspective being the first team to finish one, two, three in the Daytona 500.
KYLE BUSCH: That's not true. Didn't Hendrick do it in '97?
Q. Okay, being the second team to finish one, two, three.
ERIK JONES: You know, it's great any time‑‑ any time you can run one, two or one, two, three, one, two, three, four, whatever it is, it's a good sign for your company and for your team. For me, I knew J.D. very early in my career, JGR, when I first got into Xfinity part‑time in 2014‑‑ yeah, 2014, I ran a couple races and spent a little bit of time with J.D. I didn't get to spend much with him, but great guy. My father was a big fan of J.D. and what he was doing at Joe Gibbs Racing, and I think you're hard‑pressed to find anybody who would have a bad thing to say about J.D.
Q. Erik, I just wanted to ask you to speak a little bit about racing here at Daytona on the restrictor plates. You're really proving to be somebody that does very well here with your win last time and now the top three.
ERIK JONES: Yeah, I guess. I was a terrible restrictor plate racer for the last however many years I've been coming to them, since 2015 probably. I don't know, it's been three good races in a row since Daytona, Talladega and now Daytona again, it's been good. We finished top 10, top 5 and a win, so I don't know, it's just worked out. I mean, you've got to have some luck along the way, and‑‑ Kyle there it is. You said it, the L word.
ERIK JONES: You've got to have some. Go back and watch my end car with about three to go. There was some luck there.
KYLE BUSCH: No skill, right?
ERIK JONES: There was some skill, but there was some luck. No, it's just worked out good. We've had good cars, too, so it's all worked out.
Q. Kyle, Joey mentioned that going forward the rules will change maybe almost every week or every other week. Do you like that scenario where you and your team have got to adapt to new rules virtually every weekend? Or do you mind, like he does, just take it as it comes along?
KYLE BUSCH: Okay, to the rules, the rule book isn't going to be changing every week, but, yeah, with the rules change, this new package, we're all going to have to be adapting each and every week. So, yeah, I agree with what Joey was talking about. There's going to be particular racetracks that are going to take different necessities within the car and how you set it up and things like that to make it fast. California is going to be different than Atlanta, that's going to be different than Vegas, which is going to be different than Martinsville or Bristol or whatever.
Obviously with the different packages, too, that we kind of have, you've got a 550 horsepower package and a 750 horsepower package, there's going to be differences when you go to some of these places. Those things are all going to mix the field up, I believe. It's going to depend on who kind of hits it running, I guess, next week and who's going to be ahead of the game and what all‑‑ with open garages, what all everybody is just going to copy as weeks go on.
Q. Kyle, just wanted to ask about DiBenedetto for a minute. Were you surprised he had that much speed today, and what do you think of the new team? Do you think he can get to the same level or at least somewhat of a level that Furniture Row once had with you guys?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I wasn't surprised at all, having Wheels over there and having JGR equipment and stuff like that and being an affiliated team, I feel like they did a really good job, and Matt did a great job behind the wheel, he was fast, he was smooth, he looked really good. Was just disappointed that he wasn't able to kind of be there at the end. Felt like he was definitely an ally for the 18 car for much of the day, same with the 20. And being able to have that opportunity to be together was good for much of the race for the both of us, and then I think as the season goes on, there's certain‑‑ restrictor plate racing is definitely different than the other racetracks. They're going to have their work cut out for them. They're going to have to figure out what it's going to take exactly to make themselves successful. I wouldn't say they're going to light the world on fire right out of the box, but I'd like to expect them to grow into their situation and hopefully be an affiliate that we can certainly rely on.
Q. I know that setup is always a big question and of course the setup for the heat of the day and the cool of the night. But during this race, we had a lot of cars get really banged up and yet some of those banged up cars were still contenders toward the end. How do you handle when it's something you know you're not going to be able to fix, and how do you keep going forward?
ERIK JONES: I was pretty destroyed.
JOEY LOGANO: You were good destroyed, though. You can get good damage, too, you know.
ERIK JONES: We got some okay damage in there. But I don't know, at first I was thinking I could still drive it back. I couldn't really tell how bad it was at the time, but it's just such a‑‑ it's such a race here of just perseverance. I mean, you get down to those last 20 laps, I knew there was probably going to be another wreck. I didn't expect what really happened there, the few we had.
But getting down to the end, at one point I was like, well, there's only 14 cars left, I might as well just go race now. You've just got to stick with it. I mean, this is the one track where you can have quite a bit of damage and still get up there and contend, and that's what kept me going, knowing we were still going to be in it and be able to finish.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thanks for joining us. Good luck in Atlanta.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports