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May 10, 2008
DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA
THE MODERATOR: We're pleased to be joined in the media center with our race runner-up of the Dodge Challenger 500, that's Carl Edwards, driver of the No. 99 Claritin Ford.
Carl, your thoughts about how things panned out there this evening.
CARL EDWARDS: I mean, first of all, I'm definitely disappointed to finish second; not win the thing. But our whole crew did a great job. We were 43rd on the sheet when we came here first practice. I was down in the dumps. I was feeling terrible. I didn't like the new surface and I was frustrated.
To come out of here with a second-place finish... I mean, Kyle had the fastest car. I mean, he was pretty unbeatable tonight. To finish second, beat the rest of the field, that's pretty good from where we came from, coming here.
Very proud of my guys for rebounding on pit road. Did a great job. It's good. I'm not so frustrated with the surface anymore. I was terrible on Thursday (smiling).
THE MODERATOR: We also have our third-place finisher in tonight's race, that's Jeff Gordon, driver of the No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet.
Jeff, your thoughts about your run out there tonight and first time racing on this new surface. What did you think?
JEFF GORDON: I thought it was, yeah, pretty good. You know, for a first time, new surface, new tire, to not have tire problems, you know, to be able to get up and go pretty good on new tires, I thought it was pretty much what I expected. You knew, I knew it was going to be very tough to pass. But guys who had their cars working real good would be able to come up through there, like Carl, and like Kyle when he went to the back.
All we did was we started eighth. Two cars wrecked in front of us. We got to sixth. Somehow some track position worked out. We got in the top five. We just had awesome pit stops all night long. Because we did not have a car that could have driven from the back to the front.
So we know we have some work to do. You know, we're excited about heading in the right direction.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions now for Carl or Jeff.
Q. Jeff, you've been in this game a long time. How do you stop a guy like Kyle? He seems almost unstoppable across three different circuits.
JEFF GORDON: I felt that way about Carl earlier in the season. Now that 18 has come on strong, I don't know, they've definitely -- between the two of them, they've just got the field covered.
You know, you just got to work hard. We were unstoppable last year. We worked hard to get into that position. Other teams worked hard to catch us and pass us really. That just shows you, you know, just how tough and how competitive this sport really truly is.
You know, we've been doing everything we can, testing, trying to figure it out with all the tools that we have at Hendrick Motorsports. You know, we're definitely still missing a little something that we're going to keep working on.
I can tell you one thing: it wasn't aerodynamics tonight 'cause Kyle hit the wall. I can't tell you how many times he tried to give this race away by slamming the wall. His right side was destroyed. So I know it wasn't aerodynamics tonight (laughter).
Q. Carl, we spoke to you yesterday. You indicated if there's too much side-by-side racing, we would see a whole bunch of cautions. You also said that in the Nationwide Series last night. Do you still feel that way? Kyle tore up everything in sight. Nobody could catch him either.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I thought it would be a lot worse than it was. There was a lot of give-and-take. That was pretty cool. I was thinking, boy, they should invite people from all over South Carolina to come and drive on this racetrack all year round, every day they want, try to get this surface wore out a little bit. I think it would be a great promotion and definitely get this thing, you know, to where it wears out tires.
That was one part that was missing just a little bit. Track position seemed to be important, where before it seemed like tires were huge. But I was impressed with everyone. I thought Thursday this was going to be a disaster. And it was for me yesterday. But today went pretty well.
Q. Carl, I say this facetiously. You have your back flip. Tony has the climb up the flag stand. Kyle has this really embellished bow. What are your thoughts about that?
CARL EDWARDS: I didn't see it (smiling). I mean, people do whatever they're gonna do. His brother did the snow angel thing. Hey, here's the deal. It's just entertainment. When you win a race, I mean, you're the winner. You can get out and do whatever you want and it's okay 'cause you won. People can say whatever they want, but you're still the winner.
I'm cool with whatever people want to do. I think it's cool when Kyle gets the smoke going, then all of a sudden he jumps out of the car like David Copperfield or something. That's pretty neat.
JEFF GORDON: Houdini, man.
CARL EDWARDS: Houdini (laughter). And where the hell is Harrison Ford? He came to a couple races, his face is on the car. Guy could have showed up. I wanted to talk to him a little bit.
Q. Carl, I know that you have repeatedly said that this is your favorite track. It must not have seemed that way last night through much of this race. How important was it for you to finish second at a place that you really like but has been tough? Says a lot for a track to be as tough as this one to be your favorite.
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I like this track. And the reason I like it so much is because it seems like the driver can make a pretty big difference. I was a little nervous about the surface because I felt like that took a little bit of it away.
Yeah, still felt like you could make some things happen out there. I think with some age, it will be just the same. You know, it's still my favorites racetrack. I'm real excited about getting a little age on the surface, though, because it was great before they put the surface on. I hope it gets there.
Q. For both you guys. Can you describe to the fans just how tough it is to make 500 miles running here. Looked like basically every lap was a wreck waiting to happen. We had eight cautions, which some people thought was miraculous. Can you talk about how hard it is to race under normal circumstances and with the new surface how hard?
CARL EDWARDS: It's a pretty grueling race. This kind of tests you, I think your car and your concentration, going into the turn three especially. But that's part of it. I think that's one of the dimensions of this that makes it fun.
JEFF GORDON: Yeah, I mean, I saw some characteristics of the old Darlington tonight, like getting into turn three, even though you could carry good speed into turn three, get to the middle, the front end would take off to the wall. You didn't know if you were going to hit it. I saw plenty of people that hit it.
I think you can race this track a lot of different ways. You can drive it, you know, a lot of different ways. And I think it's still Darlington of old in how you have to do that. But this surface, like Carl said, any time they resurface a track, it's going to take a while for the racing to get to where we really like it, which is grinding the tires down, having to conserve and run hard on new tires, then having to really drive the car.
Tonight was tough, but it wasn't the toughest Darlington that I've ever driven, just because you really couldn't even get up to a guy to pass him. You know, lap car had to let me go in order for me to pass him. I don't know, maybe them other guys were a little bit better than that (laughter).
I was able to keep my car on the wall all night. That's just what I focused on doing all night, just trying not to get in the wall.
Q. Jeff, you've had a lot of success here. This track has really changed over time cosmetically with lights, the facility itself. Could you talk about how much this has changed from six, seven years ago.
JEFF GORDON: Really, you think it's changed that much? I didn't think it's changed that much. I mean, the surface has certainly changed. The lights, you know, that's certainly a different aspect.
But they do such a great job with the lights these days, it's almost better driving at night than it is during the day 'cause I think there's less shadows, the grip's better.
But, you know, other than maybe some of the big grandstands that you see. And I'm excited that this track is still on the circuit. I hope more than anything that it stays here because to me this place, the fact that it hasn't changed, just shows all the history. I love seeing the old footage. I know Carl got to run around here with David Pearson. I've done the same thing with Cale Yarborough. That's just cool, you know. That's what makes this place so great. It's kind of like Daytona, it's kind of line Indianapolis. It's the greats, the video, the history that makes it what it is.
And I'm really glad that they didn't change this track when they repaved it. They just repaved it, tried to fix the cracks and the bumps. I just hope it does get back to wearing tires out and right back to the old Darlington, because that's what really makes this place so great.
Q. Jeff, as Kyle's former teammate, a guy who knows him, he's pretty widely loathed out with the fans, but yet he's on this tear, he's winning. Does he have to find a balance on playing to the crowd, being the villain, still be able to continue his success?
JEFF GORDON: I think if he had his choice, he wouldn't be the villain. I don't think he wants to be that. I know Kyle's a good guy, you know. And he's an incredibly talented racecar driver. There's no doubt about that.
He just gets himself into situations, you know, that it just follows him. He just needs to accept it, go with it, but, you know, be himself. And I think there's an opportunity here for him. Not that he wants to go crashing Dale Jr. very often. I don't think that's going to do him too many favors. But having a love-hate relationship out there with the fans is not a bad thing. I heard more noise for him tonight than I've ever heard for him. And all I can remember when I came into this sport is riding around Dale Earnhardt, and him getting a lot of boos and cheers, and all he cared about was about how much noise they made.
That's what I've always built my philosophy on. I've been fortunate to have a lot of noise. I didn't always, you know, know who's cheering and who's booing. But, you know, right now, the boos might be louder than the cheers, but at least they're making a loft noise.
Q. Along the lines of that same question, could you talk about the feeling that Kyle must be enjoying right now about how when you get up on race day you know you're gonna be up front and running for the wins, having so much success on a week in, week out basis?
JEFF GORDON: No, I've forgotten what it was like, so I can't answer that (laughter).
CARL EDWARDS: I don't know how he feels. He can answer that one.
I want to say thanks to David Pearson. It was really cool the time I spent with him. He was over here on Thursday. Like you said, the history here, for David Pearson to be able to stand in the garage and tell me, hey, man, if you get into turn three, it's a little tight, it's going to be okay in turns one and two. All that stuff. It was pretty cool. Along the lines of what Jeff said, that was a very neat experience. I hope we can keep this track on the schedule, that's for sure.
THE MODERATOR: Plus you had a great deal with him here last month.
CARL EDWARDS: Oh, yeah, we had a good time.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, guys. Thanks a lot. See you at the All-Star.
THE MODERATOR: We're going to roll into our post race winning press conference. We have our race winner, Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M Indiana Jones Toyota here at Darlington Raceway. This is his third victory in 2008. He continues to be our points leader. This is his ninth career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.
With him he's got his crew chief, Steve Addington. He's got J.D. Gibbs from Joe Gibbs Racing. Congratulations to this team. Terrific effort out there tonight.
Kyle, talk about your win here at Darlington. Has to be special.
KYLE BUSCH: It definitely is. You know, to win here at a place that's so hard, whether it's old asphalt, the new asphalt, the regular car, the new car, it's just unbelievable the way this race goes about, the way things happened tonight.
Fortunately for me I've got a great race team with Joe Gibbs Racing and of course Toyota Motors, all these guys, Steve Addington, Chris, Geoff Price, everybody else, Wesley, all the guys on the team that do such a great job in putting these things together every week. They build them as strong as they can for me because I like to knock the walls down with 'em. Fortunately for me I had one of those good pieces tonight. We were able to come through for a win.
But definitely an up-and-down sort of race. In the beginning there we were battling with Biffle and got stuck behind lap traffic, got passed. Then we come in, tried making adjustments all night. Steve was making good calls on adjustments, trying to make the thing better. We dropped a lug nut there one time, fell back a little bit. We rebounded again nicely with good pit stops on pit road, just driving up through the field there. Fortunately at the end we got the right strategy that got us out front and clean air.
THE MODERATOR: Steve, congratulations. Called a great race up there. It's got to be special winning a race in a state you spend a lot of time in.
STEVE ADDINGTON: Oh, it's awesome to win in your home state. That was pretty big. I ran here, you know, in the Busch Series with Jason Keller, ran second to Jeff Burton I don't know how many times. Come in here, to win a Cup race here, it's really big. It makes me feel good about it.
THE MODERATOR: J.D., this race team has really established itself here this season. Your thoughts about what that 18 team is doing right now.
J.D. GIBBS: Yeah, I think first, just a huge encouragement when you kind of look back. Again, we talked about it a couple weeks ago. We had a long dry spell there with the 18. That's kind of our baby we had 17 years ago. So for us it means a lot. It's a lot of fun to do it with M&M's and still have Interstate Batteries on board, all those guys. Really having Kyle and the way he works together with those crew guys, which a lot of people don't see off the track, how close those guys are growing. That's kind of a special deal.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions now for either Kyle, Steve or J.D.
Q. How many times did you hit the wall? Did you have a tear in your eye preintroductions? Somebody said when introducing your mother, had you a tear in your eye. Thirdly, what's with this bow?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, how many times did I hit the wall? I don't know. One, two, three, four, probably five or six I hit the fence.
Next question was?
Q. Tear in the eye.
KYLE BUSCH: Tear in the eye. Sure (smiling). It was for my mom. It's Mother's Day. What a great day. Can't wait for tomorrow.
And then third question was?
KYLE BUSCH: About the bow. Uhm, I don't know. It's, Thank you very much.
Q. Jeff said it was like David Copperfield.
KYLE BUSCH: I mean, the good burnout, then I can't get out of the car fast enough, man. I need to work on that. But if it was on fire, I tell you what, I'd get out there of there. I'd get out of there, then I'm up on top, I appear, yeah, then I do a bow, thank you very much, then I go on and have a nice day. I'm trying to get more smoke built up before I get out. I'm working on it. It's good. It's okay, J.D. says.
J.D. GIBBS: We're going to bill you for that.
KYLE BUSCH: Whatever. No, he's not.
Q. Kyle, being truthful now, when they boo the hell out of you, does it bother you one bit?
KYLE BUSCH: Not really. I don't care. I'm here to race. I'm here to win. If I win, just makes 'em more upset and crying on their way home.
By the way, somebody threw a beer can at me. Next time just make sure it's full so I can enjoy it out there, all right?
Q. What was the deal with the lug nuts and the glue? What was the issue and how did you get it resolved or did you get it resolved? Do you not know what was happening there?
STEVE ADDINGTON: We're looking to see if there's something bad on the tube of glue or whatever. It's the first time it's happened all year. The first stop, the first couple of stops, I didn't even know it was happening. They never said anything and they didn't miss a beat. Then it started falling off and they just left it 'cause they thought they could get away with it. That's when it was brought to my attention. I was pretty upset about it, thinking he's probably thinking we have lost this whole deal, our pit crew's falling apart, all that stuff.
But, no, there was an issue there. They're looking into it. We'll get it resolved.
Q. Steve and J.D., Kyle is thriving in this being the villain and booing. Would you like to see him find a balance in accepting that and still continuing this streak?
STEVE ADDINGTON: I like the balance that he has. I mean, I don't have any problem with it. Everybody's got their opinion. I mean, he comes in there and he fits in with our race team and his personality fits with this race team. That's all that I'm worried about. We go out and we get paid to do this. This is what we love to do and we're very passionate about it.
I think that he fits in with the group of guys that's on this 18 car, that they are very passionate about what they do. He's the same way about his driving and wanting to win trophies.
J.D. GIBBS: And I'll just say for us, really, when you watch Kyle, I think you kind of look at the history. We've been doing it for 18 years. You always kind of have a guy that comes along, when he starts to do well, there's an issue there. Over time, generally what you watch as the guys get older, people kind of appreciate what they're doing on the track. And Kyle is learning, too. He's been a great driver for years. This is a lot of attention he hasn't had in years past. As he kind of learns and grows with that, I think we'll be in good shape. That's just a matter of time, taking care of itself. He knows we're behind him no matter what we have, we're going to support him. That goes both ways, too. So that's the encouraging thing.
THE MODERATOR: Kyle becomes the youngest winner in the history of this racetrack. Congratulations on that accomplishment. More questions.
Q. How does it feel to have that kind of accomplishment because usually people come in here and win this thing, they're the veterans, here you are doing it at 23?
KYLE BUSCH: I mean, it means a lot. This racetrack, don't get me wrong, I don't know all the history and heritage of it, but I know there's a lot to it. I know watching Carl Edwards' piece with Pearson, having the fun day he had, then watching some of the highlights of the races here, I mean, you've got Jeff's million, Elliot's million, then you've got races from beyond that time when they were still running around here with guardrail walls. It's kind of fun to watch those and see what the track was like back in the heyday.
But we're running around here so fast now it's confusing. To me it's just neat to be able to go around this place and remember all that and yet still be able to become the winner tonight.
It means a lot, especially because it's Mother's Day weekend now, and of course my mom was here to be able to help celebrate with us. Happy Mother's Day to her. And having Indiana Jones and M&M's on board this weekend with us, that was pretty cool, too. Glad we could get them a win for the special promotion they had going.
Q. Kyle, when you get into a zone like this, you hear other athletes talking about being in a zone, there was a stage earlier in the season when Carl Edwards probably felt like he could lose a lap and come back and win, do you just come to the racetrack every day now thinking, Okay, let's go win again?
KYLE BUSCH: No, not at all. I mean, you've got to stay humble in this sport. Anything can come out and bite you at any time - especially here at Darlington. It tried about five times. Fortunately for me I just didn't hit hard enough to where I was able to come through here and still win the thing.
But, you know, you look at racers from the past. I mean, Jeff Gordon's car was killed on the side when he won his million deal. So was Jeff Burton when he won here in the rain. Luckily the rain came for him. I was watching that today. There's a lot of heritage and history to this deal.
You can't just think that you're going to go to the racetrack every weekend knowing you're going to win. You've got to think you can win and try your hardest to be able to win. But, you know, my dad taught me that at a very young age, that these deals don't come every single week. You've got to go out there knowing you've got a shot, knowing you're the best driver and knowing you've got the best guys working for you, and that if you can give it your all, then the best is what you can get that day.
Q. Kyle, the first hundred laps or so you pretty much trashed your car. You had several ways of describing it. What kind of changes were made? Obviously you're involved in those talking to Steve. The comments sometimes on the radio that maybe are negative towards your team, if they're listening, are you worried about any chemistry issue when you talk about the car being junk or you're less than happy with it?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I'll let Addington answer the second one.
As far as the first one, adjustments we made, you just got to keep working on the thing. Even though it might be bad, you're leading the race, it's not doing what you're wanting it to do, you've got to work on it to make it better. Inevitably somebody is going to come up and pass you, somebody's going to be able to race you, somebody is going to be just as good if not better than you are.
We made air pressure adjustments all night, right front, left rear, right rear, everywhere. Then we made some track bar adjustments and went up on that thing. Then finally got too far on that and had to come back done. Then we started making wedge adjustments.
So everything that we did was helping the racecar, but it just wasn't its greatest.
Steve, do I hurt your feelings when I tell you the car's bad?
STEVE ADDINGTON: No. It don't bother me, you guys. He's explaining that we need to work on this racecar. We're going for the same goal. If it hurt my feelings, I believe I'd have quit a long time ago (laughter).
Q. J.D., do you think champions in all sports have common traits and abilities? What traits do you see in Kyle that could make him a champion?
J.D. GIBBS: Yeah, growing up around the NFL, kind of watching those guys, what's different over here, in the NFL, you got some guys, some really hardcore, wild personalities. When you get on that field, it's so passionate, most people don't see that. Over here you see it all the time.
So I think it's kind of -- people think it's just different because as soon as you get out of the car, you get a mic put in your face. It's a little bit different in the NFL.
I would say as far as the championship, obviously we've been around -- Dale Jarrett was our first driver, Bobby Labonte won a championship, we've been around Tony who won a championship. I think for us, there's just a passion that those guys have. Some you might see it on their sleeve real quick. Some guys are kind of quiet about it, but it's still there. You might see it behind closed doors. But it's the same thing as seeing it out in front of everybody.
So I just say all these guys are really passionate, being around 'em. Kind of watching 'em, they're so dedicated and focused that you got to make sure that they're seeing the whole picture at certain times.
Q. Kyle, after the lug nut issue, you had to charge to the front. Were you concerned about driving, wearing out equipment, you wouldn't have anything left for the end?
KYLE BUSCH: I was. I was more worried about trying to pass cars, come through there, getting tight, bouncing off the fence more times than I'd make a clean corner.
To be honest with you, a year ago or two years ago, I probably would have just thrown my hands up and wrecked the thing. But I'm getting that much smarter - not much - but just that much smarter to where I know that we've got still a long race. If it would have happened 30 laps to go, I would have been junk. I would have probably folded in half. Fortunately it was still a long enough ways to go. Like two weeks ago at Talladega, we had the same thing. I had a pit stop miscue, I didn't get in my box, had to drive through. We come around, there were still laps to go where we could rebound from it.
Knowing there was enough time to rebound from it, I just kind of laid back, stayed cool, tried to maneuver my way through traffic and do the best that I could. You know, fortunately I was able to get through about half the guys. And then coming down pit road, my guys had another awesome stop in order to get me a few more. Then on that last stop, they got me out first. That's all you can ask for from your pit crew. They did an awesome job.
Even though we had a fumble today, I still owe those guys a steak dinner. They're pretty good all year. Most notably, the got voted mechanics or pit crew of the quarter or something like that, I think. So, yeah, they're pretty good.
Q. J.D. and Steve, I saw coach in the middle of a huddle when you had the lug nut problem and again after the race. What did he bring to the table tonight as far as what went on down there?
J.D. GIBBS: It kind of frightened me at first. They were looking at him for technical answers (laughter). Get him out of there. What's he going to do? He'll mess something up.
No, I think it was just kind of talking to some of the crew guys, what was the issue. What was neat about the whole situation, the 20 car guys went and took a set of their tires and brought them down to the 18 car guys knowing there might be an issue with the glue or whatever it might be. So watching teamwork there and chemistry was kind of neat. He kind of did a good job kind of heading that up.
Q. Kyle, I think this is six weeks in a row you've won some form of race, Nationwide, Cup, even a late model. Can you put into perspective that type of run for you or are you thinking more about maybe the races in that stretch that you didn't win as opposed to what you've done?
KYLE BUSCH: I think you've got it right, that I'm looking more at the races that I didn't win, you know, what we need to do to improve on those than what I did and what I did accomplish and win.
You know, the late model race, that was fun. But, you know, Richmond, the Nationwide race, I struggled there with the car. We looked at things and tried to figure out why we struggled so bad. Found some answers, not all of 'em. Then on the Cup side, you know, we were pretty good all day. We ran second to Denny, which was cool. I was going to be happy to finish second to Denny. Junior got a good pit stop, good adjustments at the end, and he was pretty strong. Missed out the opportunity there.
Then, you know, this weekend, yesterday's race, probably had a good enough car to try to win again there and screwed up and had issues with lap traffic.
But overall, I mean, you look at races that you lose and why you lost 'em, then you also look at races and why you won, what you can do better. I've still got to talk to him and debrief here later about what my keys to winning were. You know, we're going to go through those and work on our car and make it better for next year when we come back here. I'm sure the car will evolve even more. But I've still got some issues we can work on.
Q. (Question about being impressed with his accomplishments.)
KYLE BUSCH: I wouldn't say that I'm not impressed with what I've done. And I'm very grateful and humble that I've been able to win six weeks in a row, yes. But I feel like there could have been more. And hopefully in the next couple weeks, you know, I can go to Charlotte next week, I can either win a Truck race or All-Star Race or both that. That would be awesome. Then going into the 600 weekend, either win the 600 or have a great racecar in the Nationwide race and try to win that thing.
You go out there every weekend, like I said before, you have to think you're the best, you have to know you have the best guys working on your stuff, and you've got to be able to go out there and make the best out of it. If we make the best out of it, like tonight we did, and we won, that's awesome. If we make it a second, third or fourth, we have to take what we get that weekend.
Inevitably this streak is going to end. It's not going to keep going every single weekend. I've just got to keep my smiles on hopefully.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, guys. We'll see you at the All-Star.
End of FastScripts