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November 22, 2015
THE MODERATOR: We're going to hear now from our 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship team, and that's Kyle Busch, driver of the No.18 M&M's Crispy Toyota. He's joined by his championship crew chief, Adam Stevens, and his championship owner, Coach Joe Gibbs from Joe Gibbs Racing. Certainly congratulations go out, as well, to Toyota. This is their first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series owner's championship, and certainly congratulations go out to our friends at Toyota. Well deserved.
Kyle Busch, how does it feel to be the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion?
KYLE BUSCH: So far it feels amazing. You know, I don't know that anybody could have ever dreamt of this year especially, but to have dreamt of my career path the way it's kind of gone, it's certainly amazing to have the opportunity right now to be in this position with Joe Gibbs and M&M's and Toyota and Adam Stevens. For them all to prepare such a great race car for me tonight, to be able to go out there and perform in this format and to do what we did to end up in victory lane, and to win this championship by winning the race was something special.
You know, I don't know if it's all completely sunk in yet. I remember winning the XFINITY Series championship, and it took a little bit to kind of get in, and I'm sure we'll be feeling that here in a few weeks in Las Vegas.
But you know, this night tonight is certainly really, really special, and I can't say enough about all my team guys, everyone on this whole M&M's No.18 team, everyone that's back at the shop with Joe Gibbs Racing, for building this awesome race car and all the hard work and everything that they continue to do each year, but more importantly through this year. To put all the Gibbs cars in the Chase and then to have us succeed all the way to the end is pretty special.
You know, it goes back a long time, too, with my family and my friends and everyone that's worked so hard over the years to give me the chances that I've had, and for me to make the most of them and to get to this point tonight, I don't know, it's pretty cool to be in this spot.
THE MODERATOR: Adam Stevens, your first year as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew chief, you win the championship. I don't know of a better way to be able to do that. Just talk about the thrill that you're feeling now. Certainly the team performed exceptional tonight, and you've got to talk about that and all the preparation. Talk about that if you would, Adam.
ADAM STEVENS: Well, you know, I'd be lying if I said I had any idea what we've even accomplished this year. It's just been such a whirlwind year. You know, it was very compressed from the time that Coach and J.D. said, Hey, we need you to crew chief a Cup car, maybe 16 or 18 months ago, and just so much work went into building the right team and getting the right guys together. A lot more work went into that than went into thinking about race cars.
But you know, we had such high hopes for the season and got off on a good start there early in Speedweeks, and then Kyle had his accident, and the wind was certainly taken out of our sails. I was just terrified that he was really, really in bad shape, but he saw his way back through that and got us on the right track, and thankfully we had a lot of help from Matt Crafton and David Ragan and Erik Jones and learned a lot in his absence, and were just ready for his return. He came back strong. So that's a testament to his hard work and dedication, and got us to where we're at today.
THE MODERATOR: And Coach Gibbs, you've won championships at several different levels, obviously, at the top of your profession. This has to be one of the best ones I would think, but just talk about what it means to win the Sprint Cup Series championship at Joe Gibbs Racing.
JOE GIBBS: It's a thrill. Been 10 years since we won one. And I think the thrill of this is everybody that gets to go with you, and I left some people out tonight, hey, Jimmy Makar, when we first started was our crew chief, ran everything at our place, and thankful for him and Patty, and then Todd Meredith, I didn't want to leave him out this time. He runs all of our present operations and everybody, all the hard work. Everybody back at the shop, obviously, all those people that get to go with you on a championship run like this.
And then we had all the firsts. It was a first for Toyota, which was a thrill for us. They've been such a great partner, and to finally get a trophy for them, for Toyota, I appreciate each and every one of them and all those guys that were here. It was a first for M&M's and Mars. Think about that. They've been in the sport 25 years supporting this sport, and this is their first championship, just a huge deal.
Obviously for Kyle and Adam, this is obviously a big deal, also, for them, and a first for all those people‑‑ Norm Miller had actually one would before with Interstate Batteries, but for Norm to get to go with us on this, he was a big part of tonight. He's been such a friend and everything.
And then it's everybody, our family, I wish Pat, Coy and Heather, and Al, Case and Jet are not here, but all the rest of our grandkids and everybody is running all over the place. J.D., him being here was a thrill for me, all that J.D. has put into this over the years, it's just great for our family.
And I think it's hard to express because all those people that get to go with you in those relationships, that's the thrill about winning a championship. I'm thrilled to be a part of this. Nothing bigger in sports has ever happened to me, and so it's a thrill for me to be a part of this.
Q. Adam, for you, you said a second ago you were terrified that he was really hurt bad. Wasn't he really hurt bad? And Kyle, if you could explain sort of medically speaking, how bad was it and how difficult was the rehab?
ADAM STEVENS: Well, just for me real quick, you know, when we saw him get out and sit on the door there at Daytona in the XFINITY race, I mean, I didn't know what kind of shape his legs were in. I didn't know if it was going to be this year or next year or if he would walk again. I had no idea. I'm not a doctor and I wasn't there, and I spent five or six hours in the hospital with Coach and Jimmy and everybody trying to put a plan together and couldn't even get in to see him. I had no idea how bad a shape he was in.
But it was pretty clear a couple days later that he was on the road to recovery mentally, even if he wasn't physically yet.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, the recovery process or what all happened as bad as it was, I wouldn't recommend it, if you're looking to achieve a championship this way. It's certainly not easy, but it'll make you mentally stronger and physically stronger. I'd say that. This is certainly a lot different season than anybody would have expected to have happen for myself or this race team or anything in this sport.
But going through the rehab and everything, it was hard. It was really, really hard. I remember the first time Ken came over, and he says, All right, man, we're going to try to stand up today, and I was like, You're joking. It wasn't even that I could stand on one foot and just try to put weight through my other one. I had to stand on my broken leg and not put any weight on my left foot because the foot was worse. To just get vertical and get back straight up and down and try to stand, it took me three seconds and I started to see stars and was about ready to black out. We did that about three or four times and that was it for that day, and about two days later he came over again and we did it again, and I was able to stand up, and that time I stood until it hurt. Just the pain just going through your leg and everything that was going on.
You know, it's amazing, that was‑‑ when was that? That was about 10 days after the crash that I started getting vertical. It's amazing how much you lose in muscle mass or whatever to just be able to do that again. You felt limp, like you had no control over anything down there.
We just kept powering through. Kept doing everything as much as we could, as quickly as we could, and you know, were able to power through and get back.
Q. Jeff Gordon was very complimentary of you. He said that you're more talented than him, but he also said it's at tracks like these where you would have a tendency to push too hard and take the right side off the car. I'm curious was it difficult today not to push too hard and take the right side off the car?
KYLE BUSCH: Not when you're got a car driving as good as mine was. (Laughter.)
Tonight, I mean, I was‑‑ when we unloaded here and we started in practice, we were loose and we kind of‑‑ a little out of control, but Adam was making some really good changes, and the car kept coming to me, kept getting better and better, and we got it to where we wanted it. I was really pleased in happy hour. I think man, we kind of got something. We weren't the best on the lap tracker but I remember wining California and we were 25th on the lap tracker, and Dave was worried as heck. I'm like, don't worry about it, bud. I got this.
Today was kind of the same thing. We were eighth or ninth, we were good, but I was actually shocked and surprised that the top didn't come in as much as we expected it to. I mean, Larson kind of got it going there. I think he was one of the only cars that could really make time up there tonight, but it took so long for it to get going that it never really paid off all that well, I guess.
But we worked on our car all weekend long just being able to work the bottom, the middle, the top and work all over this racetrack to make sure we had the drivability in it to be able to maneuver and be anywhere we needed to be and not just stuck to a particular groove. That really worked for us. It was really smart execution all weekend long, and really adjustments and calls by our team. Adam Stevens and our engineers and everybody did a really good job.
Q. You've had both positive and negative major life events in the last nine months. Aside from having a sweet new trophy, how are you different as a driver and as a man than you were this time last year?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't know exactly. I mean, it's probably more of a question for my wife maybe or Adam, but I just‑‑ I don't know. I guess I feel more at peace a little bit. You know, I've always thought that I've been in this sport and been kind of‑‑ not because of things that have been said to me but just because you feel like you're always fighting for a job. There's always younger, better people coming up through the ranks behind you. I was just like, you know what, if I am meant to be a race car driver and if I am meant to be champion, then I'll continue to be here for long haul. So I'll stop focusing on worrying about my job and just let it be. That seemed to help, but also just going through the rehab process I think just made me more mentally tough know that I can do physically and mentally, when you're doing some of those moves, you know, in therapy, when Ken wasn't with me he'd give me a list of things to do and I just had to do it. You don't know how many times I just wanted to stop and just be like, you know what, I'm not going to do the rest today. But I powered through it and did what I needed to do, did what I could do, but, you know, when Ken would tell me just do 10 reps of this at this weight, I was always like, I got more than that; I'm doing 12 at this weight.
It was just something that pushed me and gave me that drive to be, I guess, the man and person I am right now.
Q. Joe, you've won now more Cup championships than Super Bowls. Is it time for a new nickname? And what does it mean to have now found more championship in NASCAR than you did in the NFL?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, I appreciate that. Obviously, like I said, you can't‑‑ the Super Bowls were awesome. It was a different role for me over there. I came over here, and I told everybody that over here I'm not the technical person. Some of the owners are. I'm not. And so my job is to try and help pick the people, and then I have the real thrill the 1st of every month of trying to pay the bills.
KYLE BUSCH: You and me both, brother.
JOE GIBBS: Don't give me that. He told me on the way over here in the car, I should have waited to extend my contract until after this (laughter.)
So anyway, but with J.D., the front office, everybody there, it's just a thrill for us and certainly for our family, got my grandkids in there. They're back there running around. We've got a second generation coming to the race shop, and that will be all those guys. So it's a thrill for us. It's a thrill for me to pay to be in two sports like that. I loved football and everything I got to do there is just a thrill for me, and then to come over here and have two great experiences‑‑ you realize in life, most people never get one. They never get to have one, and I've had two.
And so believe me, I know how blessed I am, and I appreciate that, and I thank the Lord every day, and I thank‑‑ I'm very thankful for having a chance to do this.
Q. Kyle, I know you said only 10 days in you were starting rehab, so were you ever concerned about your career, like you would even be able to get back in the car?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, just to clarify, it wasn't 10 days I started rehab. Actually it was, let's see, it was that following Saturday, so it was seven days after I started doing something. It wasn't much, but I just started doing something. It was 10 days when I started to stand.
What was the question?
Q. In that short period, were you at all‑‑ were you ever worried about your career, am I going to drive again?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, initially for sure. When I had the crash and when I knew instantly that the right leg was broken, the left foot was broke, I was really worried. I was actually like‑‑ I don't know if it flashed before my eyes or if I just thought it, but it was like, man, I'm going to have to go back to laying decals. I was like, man, I don't know if I'm ever going to be able to get back in a car again. I just didn't know how severe it was. But fortunately for me it wasn't that bad, and I was able to put it all back together and be here today.
But it did worry me for sure. You know, it crossed my mind. I was thinking, too, for Samantha and for Brexton, I was like, man, my wife is pregnant, I've got no job, so I was a bit worried.
But you know, I think that's just the sort of emotion that goes through in that particular moment, but past that, everything has kind of gone really well, and to be back in this place that I am right now is even better than I was before.
Q. Going back to the championship celebration tonight, normally when you're walking across a stage on a front stretch, reaction is decidedly mixed compared to tonight when it was all cheers. It seemed like it was really well‑received. That might have been partially because‑‑
KYLE BUSCH: You mean they weren't just saying my name tonight?
Q. Might have been also because they were tossing free M&M's and tee shirts. But it seemed like people really were excited for you and happy for you across all fan bases. Do you feel like winning this championship might change that perception that people have of you? Does becoming a champion maybe change things a little bit from that perspective?
KYLE BUSCH: Yes and no. I think becoming a champion doesn't necessarily change fans' opinion of you, but I think how you are the sport's champion will change perception of how people think of you.
I'm really optimistic and looking forward to being the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion next year and doing all the things that a champion is supposed to do, and maybe that'll change some more things about me. You know, who knows? But it's certainly been a whirlwind season this year, and I think there's been a lot of change in myself and my family and my team, but yet I think there's probably still more to go, and looking forward to that experience.
Q. When you made your comeback in NASCAR, they said, okay, here's what you have to do to qualify for the championship, and there were some mixed feelings like, boy, that's really impossible, a really difficult step for you to reach. Because it was such a challenge, was that a driving force for you?
KYLE BUSCH: I think it was, yeah, and actually as a matter of fact, when we heard all of that, you know, Joe went to bat for me, Toyota went to bat for me, everybody went to bat for me about how it wasn't fair.
But regardless of whether it was or not, you know, we set forth and did the path that was given to us by NASCAR to go out there and win races and score enough points to become championship eligible for this Chase for the Sprint Cup Series championship.
But I think the time in which it really set forth in me was after Michigan. You know, we had a couple of good races. We were going to finish top 5 our first night out at Charlotte, and pit strategy, race went green to the end and didn't quite work out that way. Somewhere else we ran okay.
KYLE BUSCH: Dover we were running third until we got caught up in a lap car. But regardless of all of that, we weren't finishing where we needed to be finishing and it was getting a little disheartening. So I finally was like, you know what, I need to give my team the best effort that I possibly can for the rest of this year, for Adam and all the guys, to prepare for 2016, and just get ready and know that, look, if it doesn't happen, it doesn't happen; it's not meant to be. I just had to put it in somebody else's hands, and that's how I raced the rest of the year.
We went to Sonoma, and man, we weren't the best car there and we weren't the fastest one there, but I put it in somebody else's hands and just did what I needed to do behind the wheel, the right breaks went our way, we got on pit road when we needed to, and we won that thing, and it was just like, um, okay. It sort of changed right then and there. It was really exciting for me and for Samantha and this team to know that our biggest obstacle that we thought was going to be the hardest thing for me to do this year was run Sonoma, we won. So it was like, you know, ain't nothing any harder than what we just did today, so we just need to keep striving on and doing the best we can each week and let things happen the way they will.
Q. Everybody understandably asked Jeff about his emotions before the race. What about you? Was it more or less business as usual, or were there any moments that kind of stick in your head right now?
KYLE BUSCH: It was pretty business as usual. You know, I've got to thank my sponsors, M&M's and Toyota and Monster Energy, Interstate Batteries, all of them, we asked that they let us do our normal deal today before the race and everything, and they gave us our space and just let us be and didn't make a mockery of our race car before on the grid. It was peaceful. It was good. And look at where we ended up.
So I feel like I owe all of them a "thank you" for giving us that chance.
But to me, it was business as usual. We got in the race car. Everything was good. I didn't have any nerves when we were racing with Jeff and Kevin, and I looked in my mirror and Martin was there. I think they were 1, 2, 3, 5 pretty early in the race, and Joey, one of the best cars all year long, was right there with us, too. I was like, man, it's going to come down to this, isn't it? Well, what better chance to win a championship than to have to beat all those guys.
So I just kept my head focused in the race and kept running my own race and did what I needed to do to stay up front the way we were. We had an awesome car on the long run. We had awesome pit stops on pit road that give us a chance to keep spreading our gap to Harvick there late in the game, and then that last caution there towards the end, of course everybody is like, oh, really.
But fortunately, you know, again, we came down pit road. It was in my guys' hands at that point whether we were going to fail or succeed, and they succeeded very, very well. They gave me a great pit stop, and then it was back into my hands from there on out from the last restart and the last part of the race.
Probably from like lap 60 to go I'd say, I guess it was like lap 200, I just had to start singing kind of a tune in my head about trying to forget about some things that were happening and thinking about what could be or what might be. I just kept singing my son's favorite cartoon character song. It was trying to take me out of the moment a little bit.
Q. What is it?
KYLE BUSCH: "Vocabulary." It's a three‑minute little cartoon that Brexton stares at the TV and smiles and watches little bird, this little parrot that teaches words. So I was singing that.
ADAM STEVENS: Thank you for telling me that. I wondered what the hell you were saying on the radio when you were saying that.
KYLE BUSCH: My wife knew. You should have asked her.
Q. You've kind of touched on this a little bit, but how ironic do you find it that you get your championship in a year when you've had to overcome so much? You've had all these other years where people thought, surely you're going to get it and then it didn't work out that way, and then you've had all these things overcome and you finally do get it?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I guess years past we've had stupid things happen to us in the Chase, and it's eliminated us, but this year we still had a couple of those moments but we were still able to strive through and regain our strength and be able to make it through.
Obviously our biggest problem that came up was Loudon, but it was early enough in the Chase where it was still 12 guys that were moving on through, and it wasn't like‑‑ I guess Logano at Texas, that would have eliminated him, I guess, if it wasn't for being able to win any more races.
But we had that, and then we had the Charlotte incident with Kyle Larson, but we were able to overcome both of those things. We went to Kansas, one of my most detrimental places of going to, I guess, and who would have thought Kyle going to Kansas would be a top 5 finish. Last two races I've been there, top 5, so we're good.
But yeah, the huge tragedy in the beginning part of the year, I guess, maybe fulfilled everything of past years in the Chase. But we got it out of the way early enough that we were able to have a smoother season at the end, and I finally won my first Chase race, thank you very much. Stop asking. (Laughter.)
Q. Adam, what was your strategy getting the car ready, getting the team ready for when he would come back? What were you thinking throughout that whole time that you would know that it would just be seamless when Kyle came back to race?
ADAM STEVENS: Well, you know, I don't know that you put quite that much thought into it. You know, I'm not real big on team meetings, but we did have one, and Joe called one, as well, and you know, I just told them to look at it as an opportunity.
We still have to advance, and we still have to make our program go forward, and we have to contribute to the success of JGR as a whole. The guys that chipped in, Matt and David and Erik, just did a tremendous job, and when you have somebody else in the seat, you get a different level of feedback, you get a different kind of feedback, and I think that helped us develop our setups and our notebooks in a way that maybe just Kyle driving wouldn't do. It has its pluses and its minuses. We didn't have the most top 10s or top 5s to show for it, but we had a few, and we learned something every weekend we went to the track, based off their feedback and their experience, so that was huge for us to move forward and be ready.
Q. Coach, obviously Kyle has enjoyed tremendous success in NASCAR, and a lot of people would say this was his one missing ingredient was a Sprint Cup Series championship, but as Jeff Gordon noted earlier today, he's only 30 years old, so now with Kyle Busch with a Sprint Cup championship, have we seen the best he has, or is there still, maybe scary for his competitors, even better to come?
JOE GIBBS: Well, I think when we talked about those past times that we missed stuff in the Chase and he fell out for one reason or another, I think a lot of that was us, the race team, broke apart. Last year we couldn't avoid that. It was just two cars hit us and we were trying to be real conservative. So I think in a lot of ways, he was ready, but our race team probably wasn't ready.
You know, I still remember the first time I ever heard about Kyle Busch: Coy was racing trucks, and I called him to say, Hey, how's it going? He goes, It's going pretty good, I'm kind of mid‑pack, but there's some kid here in a truck, and he's two‑tenths faster than the field. I hope they kick him out of here. He's only 16. I think he was cheating on that, so they did kick him out. That's the first time I heard of Kyle.
So at 30 he's doing pretty good. So I think we've got some years left here where‑‑ you don't really know, it takes so much to get this. It really does. You've got to‑‑ in pro sports, what you learn is if you've got a weakness, you're not getting there at the end. They'll find it. And in our case, pit stops, the car, Toyota, all they did for us, have a crew chief, everyone in support, that takes a lot of teamwork, a lot of stuff.
And so last year is a good example, our worst year, two wins, and our guys really started fighting last year, and I think last year probably propelled us to this year. '13 was a great year; '14 was awful. It shows you how hard our sport is, and so it takes total team effort, and you've got to have everything put together and you've got to have a great driver, obviously, to be able to win one of these. Really it's been 10 years since‑‑ we've finished second and we've finished third. We've finished second twice, and it's just tough to get.
Q. Kyle, did you get champagne in your eyes?
KYLE BUSCH: Oh, yeah. It blew my eyelid open. It hit so hard.
Q. The one thing I was going to ask, you mentioned with that debris caution, I don't know if you were too busy singing a baby song, but I was surprised that you didn't really have any sort of reaction. What was your reaction in the car at that moment and how did you stay composed? Because that could have been a key moment.
KYLE BUSCH: My wife probably did, too. There was probably a few choice words from her, but Joe's was probably, "shucks."
JOE GIBBS: I think it was more than that. I will confess, okay.
KYLE BUSCH: I think I just knew the greater picture. I expected it. I didn't know when it was going to come. I didn't know whether it was going to come with 50 to go, 40 to go, 30, 10. I had my mindset that if it did go green to the end, great, and if it didn't, then I just kept continuing to think about how my car was driving that entire run in order to make sure I gave the right information to Adam so he could make some really good calls and adjustments for us for the short run or whatever it became, whatever that caution became, in order to get us ready to win the race.
Q. For anyone who wants to answer this, you guys got really hot in the summer. You won 10 of 13 races. Kyle, you won four out of five no matter what happened, seems like you won every week, and then after winning the first two races in the Chase, you guys as a team didn't win any of the next seven. Was there any concern coming into the weekend that you had fallen behind or were you confident in the speed?
ADAM STEVENS: Well, no, not at all, from me. We got on a hot streak there in the summer, and if you recall, we had a chance to win the next two after that.
KYLE BUSCH: That was the 18 team.
ADAM STEVENS: And I ran them out of gas at Pocono after we sat on the pole, and that kind of put us back on our heels a little bit thinking about points, and then we got to Watkins Glen and had a chance to win that one, and I convinced myself that everybody else was going to run out and we were going to have a green‑white‑checker and we were saving fuel for that and had I turned him loose on that one, we could have won that one, too. We could have won Bristol pretty easy, but I had him on pit road‑‑
KYLE BUSCH: Somebody said, "You can't speed in this segment, don't worry, go hard out of your box."
ADAM STEVENS: One thing I know for sure, Kyle can find a way. Good or bad, he can find a way. We had speed. We led the most laps at Chicago. You weren't asking for a dissertation of race by race.
But no, so then the Chase started, and it's about accumulating points and keeping your average finish up, and that was my mindset and our mindset going in. We weren't going to pass an opportunity for a win, but we were going to make sure we had the finishes and scored the points.
And then we had that issue with the flat tire at Loudon, and it was on again. You know, we had to make sure we had a good finish. We were in a win‑at‑all‑costs situation. So you kind of piece your way through the championship like that, making sure you get yourself in this position, and then you get to release the beast at Homestead, and that's what we got to do.
Q. Kyle, you and Kurt started out racing Big Wheels against each other. Now you've got matching championships. What was your meeting with him like after the race?
KYLE BUSCH: It was cool. You know, certainly being my brother, he is my brother. We may not see eye to eye all the time, but it's certainly a great opportunity for our family. I think the Busch family just to share in that moment‑‑ I was here for Kurt's championship when he won, and I was the first one to his car. I was in his window before he even got out. That was pretty special. I remember that still to today. I remember sitting back in his motor home watching the TV on the outside and seeing how it was all playing out, and I remember when his wheel fell off, I did the same old Busch thing that we always do, Oh, it's over, that's it, darn, what am I here for now kind of thing, and he brought it back and he won.
It was pretty cool to have that. But of course my mom and dad, they're both here, as well, here tonight. I can't say enough about them and all the sacrifice and everything that they've put forth over the years to give us this opportunity‑‑ both of us this opportunity, and you know, it's funny because driving my parents' stuff, we only went to‑‑ if I level it out and racing we only went to level 2 driving my parents' stuff. That's all we could afford. I have driven somebody else's car since I was 16 years old. It's pretty amazing that I've been able to make those ways through the racing ranks and here to today.
I can't give enough credit to my dad for everything that he taught me. I mean, and my grandmother and my mom. My mom and my grandmother, they were up in the grandstands filming the races when my brother and my dad were racing, and then when I was old enough to hold a camera, then I filmed it. We'd always go back and watch it on Sundays during, before or after a Sprint Cup Series race, whatever it may have been.
When I started racing, poor old grandma, she had to do the cameraing [sic]. She was a bit older in age and it wasn't always the best, but we got what we got. We deciphered through the video, and my dad was there teaching every step of the way. All the credit for us being who we are as race car drivers goes to Tom and Gay for sure, mom and dad.
Funny story, my dad told me, actually it was in a hospital room the night Samantha delivered, he says, you know what this means, right? No, tell me. Tom's greatest literature. He goes, You know, do you want your kid to race? I'm like, I don't know, if he wants to, that's fine. He can race if he wants to. Otherwise we'll find something for him to do. Well, you do know I'm pretty good at figuring out whether they're good or not, so I'll be sure to let you know pretty early, and I was like, thanks, dad. I'll be sure that it's you that tells him he can't drive and not me. (Laughter.)
Q. You kind of touched on it a little bit, but earlier the knock was you couldn't win a Chase and couldn't win a championship. You put both of those to bed tonight. Did you have any vindication of that?
KYLE BUSCH: No, we went out and executed. And to me it was just another race. It was a race that had greater responsibility and greater stakes, but you know, in the end it was another race, and we knew if we won this race, that we would be Sprint Cup Series champions and be sitting here talking to you, as late as it is and still having people waiting out there to do more photos, so it's pretty cool.
Q. Kyle and Adam, you've spoken a little bit about this, but given your illustrious Chase career up until this season, did you prepare yourself any differently coming into this year's Chase or was it just a carryover from how successful you'd been after your comeback that you were able to carry that forward into the Chase and didn't really have to worry about it? And for Adam, were there any concerns that if something happens you're in one of these, oh, no, here we go again deals?
KYLE BUSCH: The situation for me, like I mentioned earlier, when we went and finished 43rd at Michigan, that's when I was just like, all right, forget it. Just race the race car. Don't worry about running up front and winning and being fast and this and that. Just let it come to you. And I played the whole rest of the season that way all the way to the end. All the way to tonight, through tonight. Just let everything be. Whatever it was going to be, it was going to be. Fortunately for us, it meant a Sprint Cup Series championship.
ADAM STEVENS: Can you say your question again?
Q. Was there any concern for you going into the Chase that if you guys had a bad race early on that it was going to be a struggle from that point because of everything that he had gone through?
ADAM STEVENS: No, absolutely not. I go back to all my dealings with Kyle, back from our Nationwide days, or XFINITY days, up and through before the Chase this year. I haven't seen that out of him. Whatever situation you put him in, he delivers. You know, the more I ask out of him, the more he gives me, and I knew if I had a plan, and I gave him a good car, we could always make it work.
I think the Michigan deal was pivotal for me, too. I probably had some more conversations with him maybe in my own way. He maybe doesn't even realize it.
But it is important to approach each weekend as a clean slate. You know, it's my responsibility to look a little bit further down the line and it's his responsibility to focus on what's in front of him, and I think he did that perfectly.
Q. Kyle, obviously you're pretty emotional after you took the checkered flag. How emotional did you get, and what were you thinking during the cool‑down lap?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, there was some emotion that came through, crossing the start‑finish line. Actually coming out of Turn 4, not being crazy, but there was a tear that did go across my cheek because of the G‑forces I was pulling out of Turn 4 (laughter), and I was like, are you serious? Like wow, and then I crossed the start‑finish line, and I was just so excited and yelling at my team and everything, and then it was like trying to keep it all together and it was starting to fizzle up, and fortunately just‑‑ I really‑‑ I don't know.
I thought of a lot of different things in that moment, crossing the start‑finish line. I just remember thinking of everything that's gone on this year, thinking of my wife and Brexton and this race team, and then I thought of how long M&M's has been in the sport, how much it means to them, and Toyota has been in the sport. This is a first for them. Just so many cool things of this night and winning this race and what it meant that it all was just kind of starting to come into my mind, and that's why I was singing "Vocabulary" so much earlier in the race. I was trying to get all that out. But it started coming again. But through all the cool‑down lap all that was still kind of going, and I didn't know what to do.
Richard Buck was talking to me on the radion and I heard every other word he said. I'm like, yeah, okay, whatever. Not disrespectfully but I just didn't know what he said. Okay, I've gotcha. I didn't hear a word you said but I gotcha. He told me to park over here, and I'm doing burnouts and I'm like, well, I've got to go celebrate with my team because they're right there, so I go over there.
When I turned around and went backwards, I wanted to see the crowd and just to see what was going on with them, and I still couldn't hear anything yet. But I just thought of giving sort of the old school victory lap. Obviously Alan started that years, years, years ago, but I did it just so I could see everybody and have them get a good picture of a clean race car with a flag coming out the side of it like it was, and I thought that was a cool moment.
Q. Adam, was there a point in the race where you were having trouble understanding what Kyle was telling you about the car, and how did you deal with that?
ADAM STEVENS: Yeah, our radios, I got a little hot and I apologize for that, but our radios have been stellar all year. In the last three weeks I've been having trouble hearing him, like he's cutting out. I think we have an antenna problem or something. But the odd thing was people beside me could say, oh, he said this. How in the heck can you hear him, and I've got this 30‑foot pole with an antenna on it and I can't hear him, so I got a little flustered. But the spotter could hear him because he always had line of sight to the car. I got everything that he said, it just had to be relayed, and then we got to where we just communicated on the front stretch, and that worked fine.
But it was just a bump in the road. It wasn't a real problem.
Q. Coach, this championship came the same year you guys expanded to four teams. Professionally, financially, was that a risk, and did you expanding to four teams help achieve this goal?
JOE GIBBS: I would say definitely it's a risk. You know, each time that we decided to move to two and three, we were pretty slow about doing that, and I thought we had made great preparation to go to four, but you're worried about that because in '13 we ran extremely well, and so you're kind of saying, hey, is it going to destroy our focus, and you worry about it.
But what comes first is a great sponsor, and we got ARRIS to come on board, and then having a chance to get Carl, I will say this: He came in, total professional, all year long, and in our meetings. What I really appreciate, when you've got four drivers like we have, to have them and hear them share everything, they share everything, trying to help each other, and I really think we've got a great chemistry, and I know that's hard to get. So we did worry about it, but we thought this was the time for us to do that.
Q. Brexton being born, 13 wins across the three series, four wins in five Sprint Cup races, the Indy sweep, your first Brickyard 400 win, your first owner's Truck Series title, and your first Chase title with your first Chase win. Even with the broken leg, is this the best year of your life?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, no doubt. Definitely. I don't know how you top this, but I'd sure like to see. I've definitely won more races in a season. I've definitely‑‑ I don't know, I've been‑‑ we got married for a season, but I don't think anything tops this year. You know, this is certainly pretty special.
I wouldn't do it without everyone that surrounds me, my wife, my family, my friends, my employees at KBM, Joe, J.D., the team at JGR, Adam, Aubrey, and it's just cool to hear all that kind of rattled off. It's pretty special.
But you surround yourself with good people in business and in sports, and it sometimes will more than likely pay it back.
Q. Kyle and Joe, over the past nine months, where would you say safety has improved the most, and where do you think things can be improved for next season?
JOE GIBBS: I think NASCAR has done a great job. When you think about our sport, we've been in it 24 years now. We had Denny miss four races with his lower back, and until Kyle's injury, that was it.
So I've got to tell you, I think in a lot of things that happen, I think after Dale Sr.'s death, I think NASCAR has done a terrific job. I think now most of the tracks have SAFER barrier all the way around.
I think it is safety first. I think the most important asset that we have obviously is us as people and the way we care about each other and our drivers. We pray for safety every weekend.
But I do think we've got a sport, considering we go 200 miles an hour, I think we've got a safe sport, and I've got grandkids that are racing, and you know, I feel comfortable with the fact that NASCAR has done everything they can, I think, as progressively‑‑ obviously there's things that you wish had been done in the past, but I think it's a learning process, and they've been very good at working on safety for us.
Q. Coach Gibbs, with all the championships you have and all the rings you have, realistically could you cover all your fingers with championship rings?
JOE GIBBS: I don't know, but I'm going to try, that's for sure. But it's interesting, we try and keep those things at the race shop, and it's fun for people when they come in and they go on a tour. I would say this to everybody here: It's amazing how many people come in our race shop every day, and they get the biggest kick out of‑‑ they're always asking me is Kyle here, is Matt here, is Denny here, and most of the time I go, No, the drivers are never here. They are here every now and then. But they can see a lot.
I think you see so many families that spend their vacation touring all the race shops. They now go downtown to the Hall of Fame. They go out to the racetrack. It's really a great tour, and I appreciate all of them.
Now, I'm thrilled and blessed. But the whole point is I'm riding on somebody else's shoulders all the time because I wasn't a good enough athlete to do any of this stuff.
THE MODERATOR: Listen, congratulations to the No.18 M&M's Crispy Toyota team, crew chief Adam Stevens, driver Kyle Busch, owner Joe Gibbs, and also our fine friends at Toyota, Ed Laukes, David Wilson are to the left of me right here, and those two gentlemen and their terms are certainly very, very deserving to be 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champions, and they're available over here if you would like to visit with them, as well.
Great night here for our sport. Everybody have a happy Thanksgiving. Thank you.
JOE GIBBS: Jack is over there, too.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports