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July 12, 2008
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by the winner of the Lifelock 400, No. 18 M&M's Toyota, Kyle Busch. Kyle, tell us about your run.
KYLE BUSCH: Well, glad to see everybody again. Been a long time. (Laughter).
I don't even know where to start really. I mean, we had a decent car all night. It was not probably one of the best cars, but it was close. You know, it was a contender and that's all we needed was just one we could go out and race everybody with and try to make gains.
The 99 came up and he was good as he's always been on the mile-and-a-halves this year for some reason and the 48 was strong there; fell back in the middle stages of the race.
But we were able to get up front there and led a lot of laps there toward the end of the race. And on that second-to-last restart I think is where Jimmie got by me.
I don't know, I just got a little slow into turn one or whatever, and he got a run on me and got right up to my rear bumper in turn three, got me a little loose and then got by me there.
And I pretty much had given up by that point figuring he had the race won, but another caution came out and we were able to rebunch up for that final restart and got a great restart on his rear bumper and pulled to his outside on with 1 and figured he would protect the bottom as he did on the front stretch, and I had some momentum and got to his outside on three and was able to complete the pass through four and made it to the finish line first.
Just an unbelievable year and something to be really proud of and really fortunate to be involved with everything and have all these guys on my side with Job Gibbs and JD and Steve and everybody, so it's just unbelievable.
You know, you cherish them when you can get them, and definitely this year is one to cherish.
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by tonight's winning crew chief, Steve Addington. Tell us about tonight's strategy.
STEVE ADDINGTON: Turn it over to him. The cars right now with our package, we're on a high phase. We can make little adjustments and get way out of the racetrack and just tried to get back to where we were at the start of the race, and finally got closer there. And just 48 and the 99 and those guys, they were better than us on certain runs.
So we got some work to do, but that last restart was awesome (chuckling). He did a heck of a job there and that was really cool, and I'd like to thank Jeff Dickerson for getting on to him a little bit and getting him going. That was pretty cool.
Q. Two things. What did Jeff -- I can't imagine anybody having to do anything to get you motivated; and also, the fact that you have such a big lead in the points and the wins, does that allow you to make such a bonsai run and say, we can take a chance and go harder here?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I mean, it doesn't take a whole lot of motivation for me to get going. I mean I'm always going as hard as I can and was going to probably do what I did anyway.
Dickerson gave one whale of a speech and pretty much said: You ain't got a hair on your ass if you don't go to the outside and pass this guy. So I did what I could and tried to make his words work, and obviously they worked out for us.
And so, you know, yeah, leading the points, it definitely has its advantages. And being able to go out there and make a bonsai move like that.
But even if I did slip up or something like that, the worst we probably would have ended up was fourth or fifth or something having to catch the car, hopefully not wrecking it, but just getting loose or something like that. But great car to go to the outside with and get a run like that.
Q. When you come to a restart like that and you are the leader last week and you were controlling the guys behind you, that you've got to slow down and all that stuff, having been in that position last week and doing it the opposite way, now you're in the opposite position; can you take us through the mind-set? You said you knew he was going to drag you to down slow.
KYLE BUSCH: I figured he was going to bring us down. Normally when a guy is back from you a little bit and then they start kind of closing in on you, then they get right to your rear bumper, they have to kind of lift and check out of it. And they kind of ruin their momentum and then you go, and then they sit there and spin their tires, you know.
So I made my own bed there, gaining on him like I did. And then he was watching his mirror, and as soon as I touched his rear bumper there, I just laid in the gas; and whether he was going to go or it wasn't going to go, it was going to be a whale of a restart and pretty exciting.
You know, he went and I was right there on his rear bumper, and fortunately that was our race-winning move just being able to stay with him on the restart and not spin my tires and get to his outside through one and two.
You know, with that old car, you couldn't have done that. You couldn't have gotten on the guy like that, because it would have just spun him out because the noses and tails don't really meet up, but with this car, it worked out.
Q. For either of you guys, coming into this situation, new driver/crew chief combination, new engine situation, could you really realistically have imagined anything like what this season is turning out to be?
STEVE ADDINGTON: No. Not at all. We knew we were getting a great driver. I felt really strong about our race team, you know, the 18 car, and really strong about the organization as a whole just from top to bottom: From top management down to fab shop, engine shop and engineering and everything else; that I felt like we were putting good race cars out there and we were missing, you know, part of the puzzle, and never dreamed it would be like this.
You know, I felt like we could go contend for wins week-in and week-out getting Kyle over there, but never winning seven races already; that's just crazy. It's awesome. It's a dream season for everybody on this 18 car.
KYLE BUSCH: Same thing. I mean, just to not really know what to expect coming into the deal and knowing they have had great equipment for years, you know, with Tony and Denny both making the Chase for the past two or three consecutive years, whatever it's been, and just getting into the stuff and trying to make a home here and getting used to Steve and getting used to their way of going about things with setting up cars and with changes and what we are looking toward and with this new car not knowing what to expect on the Super Speedways and intermediate tracks and stuff.
So getting used to everything was going to be weird, but it's all kind of falling into place and fortunately, this year has been this year, and you know, if there's not ever one like it again, it's definitely something that we have to cherish now.
Q. You told your team over the radio that Jimmie Johnson doesn't lose these types of races, but you seem to lose them or don't -- can't win them. Are you still thinking back to last year or past years, or Nationwide races? You've won so many this year. Where does that come from?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, it comes from all the second-place finishes that I've had that have been close; like Vegas last year, with Burton and myself. I mean, there's been races where I probably could have won that I've given up; whether it's been on the last lap or last ten laps or last five laps or whatever it might have been.
Just guys get a little bit better at the end of the race than I do or whatever, or we don't keep up with the racetracks or we have bad pit calls or whatever. I'm sure there's been plenty Jimmie Johnson have given up and those guys, but not one that I felt like I gave up on the restart. I felt like in the corner and got my own pace, got back on the gas, got a little tight there. But Jimmie was already to my outside and I was like, dang; or, you know, almost to my outside there, and then down the back he pulled low and almost got beside me getting into three. And I just got loose getting into three in front of him. There on that last restart, I was able to pull a Jimmie Johnson on himself sort of and it worked out somehow.
Q. Jimmie Johnson said basically that he thought it through -- that if he'd thought it through, he would have never given you the outside; did you have all your eggs in one basket? Was everything you did based on him giving you the outside?
KYLE BUSCH: I mean, when he went to the bottom through one and two, I figured really outside is open, that's where I'm going to have to go. You know, if he was going to go outside, then I was going to go to the bottom, and so it didn't matter where he was going to go; I was going to go the opposite way.
And somehow I just got the momentum -- I was going to try to get to the inside, and but you know, he wasn't going to let that go and so I just -- because I didn't think my car would keep the momentum and stay free enough on the outside to get up alongside of him, but somehow, it did, and I was just able to get up there.
And once I got to him, I'm like, all right, this is going to be an exciting three and four. Let's see if we can get down here, and then we were able to get by him through the center of the corner and off the exit and led the last lap there.
Q. You're really winning over the fans and they were really cheering you tonight especially in the pass in the ends. It almost feels like you're daring the fans not to like you, especially after a night like tonight where you're showing them that you can get it done when everybody else thought you weren't.
KYLE BUSCH: I mean, it's just, you go out there, I said it last night, you go out there and do your job and do what you can. You've got to stay hungry and humble in this sport. And the things that you do to try to win over the fans, they are here to support our racing and they are going to support -- I wish they liked me, you know, but I've got to play I guess the bad boy role and them not like me for whatever reason. I'm trying, but all I can do is go out there and win races and try to do what I can to make my team happy and my sponsors happy and everybody that supports me and let's me drive that race car.
So when the fans are out there and they are cheering or booing, it's great to have them here. You know, it's fun to have the recognition I guess that you have and all those guys out there that are -- whether they are cheering or booing, they are here for a reason, and that's so they can help support us.
Q. When Jimmie passed you with 16 laps to go, you said on the radio, "Race over." I guess not. Why would you give up like that, I guess, and did you is surprise yourself with being able to come back and win?
KYLE BUSCH: Did I surprise myself? Yes. Without that caution, the race was over. I mean, just judging by what was in front of me and what I knew at that given particular point, the race was over. Jimmie was going to lead us to that checkered flag without that caution.
So when that caution came out, it kind of changed everything, and just trying on that restart doing whatever I could to get back by him. The car stuck on the outside and I just drove it for all that it was worth and gave it everything I had, and I know Jimmie gave it everything he had. If the roles were reversed he would have done the exact same thing and I probably would have been pretty TO'd.
It's good to be in this position rather than his, and I've been in his position before; he's been in my position plenty of times before, too. There's role reversals all the time and fortunately for us tonight, you know, the lords were praying down on us.
Q. Has there been a time where you said, "race over," or you thought it in a type of situation, and have you had a situation like that where you maybe thought it and came back and won?
KYLE BUSCH: Not really. I mean, typically last year and the year before, whenever we saw Jimmie Johnson coming with about 100 to go, 80 to go, 50 to go and he would take the lead, I was always like, "Race over," and he would go on to win and I was pretty much right.
I think this is the first time I said "race over" and Jimmie Johnson didn't win. You know, sometimes things change and that's why you never give up in this sport, I guess and you always keep working.
And there's guys that are running tenth or 15th that could some day probably just go out there and whoop our butt every week. That's why we have to keep ahead of everything. We weren't the best car out there tonight especially during some runs and we have to make our car to make it more -- "mo" better I guess, to be able to go out there and compete and try to lead more and win.
Q. Last year you mentioned this, too: Jimmie Johnson passes everybody by and it's race over. Tonight the story that probably 80 percent of the people was: Jimmie Johnson says not so fast Kyle Busch; I'm still a two-time defending champion, yada, yada, yada; was this a sort of you and him stare-down? Because he's won the championship the last two years and you've been the story this year. Could this be a race we go back to and say, right there is sort of where the gauntlet was thrown down?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't think so. I mean, we can go on into Charlotte, Texas, Atlanta, anywhere, I mean, anywhere from here on out and I could be leading the final restart and Jimmie do the same thing right back to me. He's got experience at that.
So for me to just think that it's going to boil down to us two, that's silly. We have others guys to worry about: Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, everybody; Denny and Tony, I'm sure they will have some good runs in the Chase.
You know, Jimmie, being a defending champion I have ultimately the most respect for him, Jeff Gordon, anybody in this sport and to go out and beat guys like that, it's something that's pretty special and I really cherish that. And being able to have the competitive nature that I have just to go out there and try to see wins and get wins, it's all about it.
Q. Do you think having intimate knowledge of being around Jimmie and that organization for three years, that you kind of expect or have a better idea of what he's going to do? Do you feel like you have a better idea that you can defend what he's going to do, had you not spent the last several years at Hendrick?
KYLE BUSCH: In this case it didn't really help me much, but in other cases, yeah, it really helps out, because I know sometimes what they do at restrictor plate tracks; I know what they are going to do at restarts -- there at restrictor plate tracks, not tonight.
There are sometimes where you're not sure exactly what's going to happen and, tonight you just had to think it all through and play it out by ear. You could have planned that restart 100 different ways, and it could have turned out so different. Fortunately for us, it was the right way to do it and put us in the right place.
Q. I know it's hard to quantify it, but is this the most satisfying or the best win of the season for you, just the way you did it?
KYLE BUSCH: Not necessarily. I think Infineon was a big one. I think Talladega was a big one, and even Atlanta, just being the first one for Toyota and first one for me at JGR and stuff.
This was a big one. I felt like it was a great chance for me to get out there and beat the two-time defending champion and being able to out-race him or out-duel him in the final two laps and get the job done.
I know there's going to be plenty of more times where it will be reversed and I'll have somebody doing that to me. But you know, it feels pretty good to be on the other side of it for once.
Q. Can you talk about how you became so good at these restarts? When you were younger, you probably focused on it; talk about getting to this point where you're just darned good at these restarts.
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I mean, you try throughout the years -- my dad was probably my biggest influence on restarts and helping me. You know, there's some keys to it that help you out -- and I'm not going to tell you. I'll keep those for myself and for my dad, he'll know.
Besides that, it's just about anticipation. It's about visualizing something that's not yet there, but just trying to think of all the different scenarios that can happen, and with all the different type of racing that I've done over the years, whether it's been dirt or legends cars, late models, everything, there's been so many different types of restarts that I've ever had that ultimately, you know, you start to see a trend or you start to see something, and you know, very rarely do you see something that hasn't happened yet.
But you know, there's still plenty of times I'm sure I can learn something more. Just having the right anticipation and being able to get it through the gears right.
Q. Can you talk about where you tapped the wall during turn four or nudged it; what happened and did it affect your car in any way?
KYLE BUSCH: Just loose off. We couldn't get the loose off out of it. I think I was leading. A few laps later, I don't know, ten, 15 laps later Carl came by me there. I was just over-driving the car a little bit, not getting it down in the corner and bottom of the racetrack and getting the four tires stuck to the track before I would accelerate; and when I would not do that and accelerate I would be all over the racetrack on the exit and I just slid up too high and just nudged the wall there.
I don't think it really affected much or changed it much. Once I calmed down and cooled the right rear tire down when Carl got by me there, I got back into a rhythm.
Q. For a long time, the 18 was kind of the bread and butter of Joe Gibbs Racing. I was wondering if you could just talk about not just with JD and Joe, but the guys on the team, what they are feeling like this season to have the team back as the No. 1 team at Gibbs.
KYLE BUSCH: All I see are smiles, man. They are just so ecstatic. That's great to see and that's a great feeling for me to have guys that can get as worked up as I can about racing. And you know, not just because we are winning and we are running well; we are communicating and talking and working well with each other and we are able to be friends off the racetrack, too, and go out and celebrate, have a good time, and yet still focus on what the job and the task at hand.
That's the best part, and I mean, there's so many great guys and girls at Joe Gibbs Racing that work there, and work so hard every week. And whether they are in the marketing department, the machine shop, anywhere at Joe Gibbs Racing, they are there for a reason and that's to win and win championships.
So for me to get there and for this thing to be as special as it is this year is just great, because it means so much to those guys, not just to me but to those guys and their families to know that their hard work is finally paying off.
And Tony had a great run tonight, too. I want to say that; that he looked really, really strong and I thought he was going to be the Job Gibbs car here tonight to beat. Unfortunately, I don't know if they made an adjustment that didn't work out or what but still, he had a good run.
Q. You sounded so humble on the radio after you won, is this season, what's going on, having that effect on you?
KYLE BUSCH: It is. I don't know how to put it, but it's just so different I guess, you know, with being able to win one race a year or two races a year, you know, you try so hard and yet you get so down on yourself because you can't and now this year, it's just like, wow, this is something that's crazy. You know, this doesn't come along very often.
I know Jimmie won I think ten races the past two years and Jeff's done it in the past, and you know, this to me, I never dreamed of it for myself. You always see it happen with somebody else and you feel good about them being able to do that and Jimmie last year, you know, I was over there and I was just like, man, what do we have to do to get some wins here, he's just taking them all.
Now that that feeling has come upon me, I know how he felt you have to stay humble and yet stay hungry and go out there and do what you can in order to survive in these races and to survive up front and try to win. Somehow, it's paying off and it's working out and I'm just so proud of the effort.
Q. You've won some races this year with great cars and great driving, tonight you got some luck on your side. Are you starting to feel this is a charmed season for you; do you have a gut feeling going here that this may be the one?
KYLE BUSCH: I really don't know. I mean, I think somebody said to me last week, do you feel like you're going to wear it out, you know, because Jeff Gordon I guess, he had the beginning of the year the first 26 races just sewn up and was gone, and then in the final ten, he finished second in points, which wasn't bad, but he didn't just quite had the luck or spark that he had in the first 26.
I'm hoping we don't lose it. There's definitely been some luck in this first part of the season. You know, you've got to have some of that to win some of these races. Some people say you would rather be good than lucky. Some people say would you rather be lucky than good. I would rather have a little bit of both and be able to go out there and capitalize with all of it on your side.
THE MODERATOR: Kyle, thank you, and congratulations.
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