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July 24, 2016
THE MODERATOR: We're going to continue with our post‑race media availabilities for today's Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard. We are joined by our race‑winning crew chief Adam Stevens with the No.18 Skittles Toyota. Take us through what it was like up on the pit box the last couple restarts.
ADAM STEVENS: I'll tell you, the last couple restarts were not much fun from my perspective. When you have four tires lined up a couple rows behind you, you don't know what's going to happen. The way people were racing each other and crashing and stuff falling off the cars, I didn't know how many restarts we were going to have. Fuel started to be a concern. It wasn't at the number of laps we run, but man, a few more and it could have got ugly for sure.
It's really enjoyable to put a car that's that fast on the track and be able to come home with the trophy.
Q. How do you describe how a driver like Kyle Busch can just come in here and completely own the weekend in both series? Have you ever had a car that's been prepared this well that was just that much faster than everybody else?
ADAM STEVENS: Yeah, you know, I don't think I have, and to be honest with you, practice Friday, I didn't see that kind of speed. I felt like we were good, but there were another five or six cars that could run with us, and it was going to be who made the best adjustments to who was going to really get out there and lead the laps and win the race.
But even on top of that, the pit strategy can get really jumbled up, and the best car doesn't always win.
You know, I think what leads to having a dominating car at Indy is we only come here once a year, and this track is not like any other place. He takes every opportunity to race when he comes here, so he's got a lot more laps around this place than maybe some others.
You know, the speed in all the Gibbs cars is a testament to everybody at JGR and Toyota. We've got a lot of dedicated people that work really hard to give us the best stuff, and it's up to us guys at the racetrack to execute. You know, Kyle is special. Every once in a while you'll see somebody that their natural tendency to drive a racetrack fits the racetrack. You've seen that from Harvick in Atlanta at times and maybe Brad at Kentucky, certainly before the repave. I think we're seeing it now out of KB that really what he wants to do with the car is the fastest way around and maybe what other guys want to do isn't the fastest way around and that gives him another level of feedback that lets us dial his car in for him.
THE MODERATOR: We are also joined by our race‑winning car owner Joe Gibbs. Obviously a pretty strong day for Joe Gibbs Racing. In addition to this being Kyle's fourth win of the season, for Matt it's his 11th top‑10 finish in 17 races here at Indianapolis and ninth top‑10 finish this year. Can you talk a little bit about that?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, I've got to say, just a thrill to be a part of this. It takes a total team effort. Adam will tell you that. Everybody back home wished they could be here. They worked so hard to get us here and get the cars to the point where we can race them. I just really appreciate the day Adam, Kyle, it was a great team effort, everybody on the pit crew, over the wall, and we love coming here. It's a huge deal for us because our sponsors love this place. I went to a lot of hospitalities today. We had FedEx here, we had Mars here.
There's history here. It's a huge deal. We love coming here, and I really appreciate all of our partners. As I say all the time, the thing that's different about this sport, you've got to have great partnerships with your sponsors to be able to race. It's not like any other sport. When you win, I was calling everybody at Mars and just thanking them for everybody from the top down there for letting us do this, and we have Toyota as our partner in this, Interstate Batteries is on this car, which is Norm, called Norm. It's a total team effort when you win a race like this. It's a huge deal for us, and I just really appreciate being a part of it, and the Lord blessed us with just a great day.
Q. Adam, you said that Kyle chooses the fastest way around but others don't. Is that because he can drive it a little bit more uncomfortable than others?
ADAM STEVENS: If that's what I said, it wasn't what I intended to say. What I'm saying is the way that he wants to drive the car is what the car and the tire and the aero package need here at Indy. Where some guys might drive it harder or drive it easier or whatever they're trying to do and what they're tuning their car to isn't maybe the fastest way around, and the way that Kyle naturally drives this place is the fastest way around. Since we only come here once a year, that level of feedback he's able to give us gets us in a little bit different area than I think some other guys.
Q. Adam, you talked about the dominance here, but the Toyotas have been dominant and racing really well most of the season. What have you guys hit on that is making you so much better than the competition right now?
ADAM STEVENS: You know, at this level of motorsports and the competition level across the field, you can't hit on one thing and beat people. You have to hit on everything. There's 550 employees at JGR to make sure we are working on everything that makes a race car go fast. At the end of the day, it comes down between the communication between the driver and the crew chief and the team and taking what he's saying the car is doing and what it's not doing and translating that into changes that make the car better. That's Kyle's strong suit.
I think you're seeing a little bit of that.
Q. Adam, you mentioned some of the cars were a little beat up, were dropping some debris on the track, but also after that red flag there was a ton of water bottle debris on the front stretch and your car was the first one to get to it. Did that give you any additional concern that your splitter was going to get beat up running over those bottles?
ADAM STEVENS: The water bottles, you want them picked up, which is why I pointed it out on the radio. It's not a big deal to run over them when you're getting up to speed, but at full speed it can tear your car up pretty bad. You just don't want to see anybody have a bad day like that. As a competitor, I don't like when anybody has a bad day to be completely honest with you because I've been there, but myself and my team, if we have irreparable damage like some of the cars did, we go out of our way not to muddy up the race for anybody else. You hate to go out there with your car falling apart and drag a bunch of debris across the track and change the outcome of the race in a negative way when you're not having a good day.
I was concerned about that, but at the end of the day, it didn't pan out that way.
Q. Compared to last year we had a vastly different aero package, plus the new tire. How do you think they fared today and what can NASCAR do specifically going forward with this race?
ADAM STEVENS: This is a tough place. There's not much banking and there's only one preferred groove in each one of the corners, and that makes clean air a big deal. It's not like you can spread out and go bottom to top like you can at a lot of high‑bank places. That's just the way it's going to be, and there's not an aero package that's going to change that.
You know, the racing, there was a lot of racing throughout the pack. It's just the way that it is. There's no tweak or change that's going to make that fundamentally different.
Q. Coach Gibbs, Larry Mac said this week that Indianapolis would serve as a measuring stick on where teams stood as far as competition. You guys seem to have that covered. Is there any areas of improvement that the organization needs to work on before the Chase?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, I think one of the hardest things in pro sports is to stay up because we have so many great owners and great teams in our sport, and as hard as everybody works, you see the ups and the downs. '14 we just had a horrible year, and you work real hard to get back, but you also know that everybody else up there is working extremely hard. In pro sports, normally what happens, you can be up and then you're down, and it's a short trip back.
I think one of the things we've got going for ourselves is in our team meetings. Our drivers, our crew chiefs, they are unbelievable. They just share everything. They try and solve problems together, and I think that's one of the things that right now we've got really going for ourselves.
But I'm always nervous because I know in pro sports it's very hard to stay up, and so our goal would be can we do that, stay up and get ready for the Chase and continue to win races, and our guys go with‑‑ I don't think they think much about the Chase. They're thinking about trying to win every week.
It makes‑‑ I think our guys are getting after it, so we appreciate the way they go after things, and like I said, I appreciate everybody back home, J.D. and always kind of‑‑ called him, and I thanked everybody who was a part of it.
Q. Coach, two questions: One, when is the last time you've seen an athlete like Kyle Busch come into a place like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and just dominate both races like he's done for the last two years?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, I've got to tell you, I think it's a great sports story. You know, it goes back really to the first of last year when he had that wreck, that horrible wreck, because we all know a lot of athletes, they can look at that and say, take a different approach. That Kyle, from the second day he was out of surgery, he has been on a mission to get back, and then to come back the way he did, and I'll tell you, I don't see anything in him but wanting to go to the front.
To come out of here, at a place this hard to race and to be able to have two years like this I think is really special, and that's a tribute to him and the team and Adam and everybody. I think it's special.
Q. To compare it to your previous career, was this almost like the Super Bowl beat‑down you did to the Broncos or the Buffalo Bills?
JOE GIBBS: I don't know about that. I don't want to get those people stirred up. I've got enough of them yelling at me out there, hey, how about them Cowboys every time I go by. All right. Okay.
I just think it's very competitive, people, and I think the reason people like to watch it, it's the greatest reality show because we have no idea. We have no idea what's going to happen. We tee it up every week, and you're not sure what's going to happen this week.
Q. Coach, you've talked the last two weeks after wins about having so many sponsors at the track and yet the stands have not been as robust the last two weeks as we've seen them. Is there concern from your sponsors or concern from you, and what do you think needs to be done?
JOE GIBBS: Well, I think, first of all, it's a total team effort for us to make the racing the best it can be, and I think that NASCAR is totally engaged with us. I think this is by far, for the 25 years I've been in it, NASCAR meets with us on a regular basis. They're wide open. They're after it. And all the things that we've got to do, reaching millenials, the social media. We're blowing it out pretty good in social media. What we've got to do is continue to work hard on the rule package this year and make the racing exciting and great, and I think we're going to get our fans back in the stands, and I think really so far this year, my understanding is all sports are down about 9 percent, and we were down a lot less than that.
I think I've got my stats right on that. I think we need it. We need to be smart, sharp, all the things we're doing, working hard to appeal to our fans and get them back.
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by the driver who won today's Crown Royal Presents the Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard, Kyle Busch, driver of the No.18 Skittles Toyota. This is obviously your second straight win here at the Brickyard, and this is the first time that a driver has swept the Coors Light Pole Awards and the races in a weekend, so why don't you talk a little bit about that.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, just a great weekend for us and such a special weekend, too, being able to win a Brickyard 400 and have that opportunity come our way last year and then to be able to back it up and win again here this weekend was special in its own right.
And then to add in the fact that we sat on both poles and were able to win the XFINITY race yesterday and the Sprint Cup race today and do a sweep of the weekend two years in a row, that's something that probably doesn't come along very often. I just can't say enough about the whole group of guys and people that are around us, around me and Adam and Joe with our opportunities that we've got with having fast race cars and Toyota's support, M&M's support, NOS Energy Drink's support, and it's just been fun. We kind of had a down month there through the month of June especially, and July is kind of picking back up a little bit, so it's cool to come here and sit on the pole and win the race. That's just really special here at Indy.
Q. Let's talk about those restarts. You're the king of the restarts in this series, and that's probably what won this race, and you had to do it over and over and over again.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, the repeat ability there was something I wasn't looking forward to. I certainly didn't want one, let alone five of them or however many there were. When that caution came out with 10, 11 to go, whatever it was, that was sort of the kick in the caboodle for me that I just didn't want to see that. We just wanted to have the race go green to the end. We had a really good long‑run car, so I felt like we'd be able to hold off those guys behind us and then we had all those restarts, and you never know what is going to happen on those restarts. There's a lot of gamesmanship that kind of gets played and there was a little bit of back and forth a little bit with the guys in the different grooves and I remember I think I had Kenseth to my outside. I had Truex to my outside. I think I had Carl to my outside and then Joey Logano to my outside, so there was a lot of different characters that we had to deal with on the restarts. Just glad that everything worked out for us and we were able to carry good speed down the straightaway and getting into Turn 1. I was always kind of nose to head, where I felt like I could run the groove and the speed that I needed to run and focus on being able to hit my marks in Turn 2 and set sail each time.
Q. You talked about not kind of wanting to see those restarts and a little bit of debris and the caution comes out. How bitter of a pill would this had been if you lost any one of those restarts?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, no doubt. We lost last week's because there was a debris caution with 40 to go. It gets frustrating sometimes when you see those cautions and you're not quite sure why. Certainly obviously NASCAR felt there was something out there that they need to go take care of and handle and get off the racing surface, but you know, it's a double‑edged sword. Sometimes there may be something out there and you want that caution to come out and other times there may be nothing and you don't need that caution. It goes both ways. This sport is long enough, I've been here long enough that those things kind of go full circle. You've just got to take them when they come to you and make the most of your opportunities, and thankfully we were the leader. We had the race in our hands that we can manipulate the restarts how I needed to and make sure that I got to the No.1 spot and was able to do the same thing last week. Each and every week it's power to the leader. That's what we've all kind of asked for with this bigger restart zone and stuff, too, so when you are the race leader that you've earned that right to restart how you want.
Q. Admittedly you used to come here and struggle, and you didn't know why but the last two years you virtually owned both races. What has clicked for you? Has there been something that just kind of‑‑ was there an aha moment to this place where you figured it out?
KYLE BUSCH: Not really. I want to say I kind of figured it out actually a couple years before that. I think I had a couple second places, maybe even a third‑place finish in there, and the guys that beat us on those days were just lights out, just stupid faster than us, and it was like, man, how are they that fast? Well, I finally got one of those here today. We were lights out and just that fast.
Felt pretty good to be up front and obviously you've got to do everything in your power to not screw it up.
You know, I can imagine if I would have won any of those races beforehand and beaten one of those guys with the super fast cars how they would have felt because I know how I would have felt here today.
You know, certainly I feel like I have gotten better here over the years, and I just feel like it wasn't the last two years. I feel like it was probably the last four or five.
Q. Now that you've officially swept the weekend two years in a row, you pretty much owned this place on the Cup side and in the XFINITY side. Does this kind of make you want to run the 500 maybe to follow in your brother's footsteps?
KYLE BUSCH: Well, I won't be following in his footsteps. I'll be doing my own footsteps. It certainly may open up some avenues. I'm not sure. But there's some people out there that have expressed some interest to me, so we'll see where things kind of go. But obviously my focus is on the Sprint Cup Series and what I'm doing here, and being able to win races with M&M's and Skittles, Interstate Batteries and NOS Energy Drink on the XFINITY side, too, so I'm having fun with what I'm doing right now, and we'll see if something is able to line up then there's a possibility, but I probably wouldn't put too good a chances on that.
Q. Kyle, Adam said when you unloaded he knew the car was fast, but he didn't know it was that fast. At what point between Friday and Saturday did you realize it was that fast?
KYLE BUSCH: We made some changes to it a lot during the first practice, and then I got into that little skirmish with Patrick Carpentier in Turn 2 and then I just told Adam what more I needed, some changes we made already were really good. We just needed to go more in that direction, and again, I told him again last night some of the same things. I just felt like the feel that I was getting, it kept getting more vivid to me of what I wanted to feel in the car going through the corners instead of just feeling numb and just making laps. I could actually steer the car and you could feel the front tires bite and do what they needed to do for you. When you get those sort of feelings as a driver, you're just like, oh, yeah, that's really nice.
You put all that to good use and keep talking to your crew chief about changes that make sense and do good things for you and you keep going that direction. It was definitely during second practice on Friday. I knew we had a really good car.
Q. 22‑year record was broken today with you leading the most laps at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. What does it mean to keep setting new records in the sport, and have you ever had this dominant of a car at Indy that you can remember in your entire career?
KYLE BUSCH: No, I've never had a dominant car like this at Indy. I think back to maybe having dominant cars like this elsewhere and Bristol comes to mind a few times. But obviously this is just a special, special day and a special car.
I'm not sure I can get this one from Joe to put in my showcase, but we'll see what happens. I'm sure we'll still keep using this one for the remainder of the year. It's that good.
I think with the way the cars are built today, they have a short shelf life. They only make it about three races, if that, so we'll see what all comes down. But having that fast a car here was pretty cool.
Q. Two questions: When you're driving around like that, what do you think about while you've got a couple of minutes to go around there thinking what am I going to do next, what am I going to do next? And second, there's never in the Indianapolis 500 a guy that's won three in a row. Your opportunity is there next year. Can you do it?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, so rolling around under caution just thinking about things, certainly I just keep thinking about what I just did and how it worked and what I need to do different. You've kind of got to change up your restarts a little bit each time to kind of keep everybody guessing. Once they start to get a rhythm of what you're doing, they're going to take advantage of that. That's kind of what I was doing was just thinking about what I did and what I could do different and what I did two times ago. I don't want to give everybody my secrets.
But as far as having the opportunity next year to go for three in a row, that's cool. You know, like you said, no one has ever done it, but that's 365 days from now. I'm going to cherish this one a lot more here first, but then when we come back next year that'll certainly be on our minds and being able to go out there and run this race and try to win this race. We've had fast cars here the last couple years and all of Joe Gibbs Racing has had quick cars here the last couple years. I'm just fortunate to be with the right group that's been in victory lane here.
Q. This track has obviously compared a lot of times to Pocono. Does the momentum and everything from here carry over, and what do you bring with you to make‑‑ possibly go back‑to‑back?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I thought last year the momentum did carry over. We won this race and then we were running right behind Joey Logano for much of the last stint at Pocono and we thought we had just enough fuel to make it. We didn't. We ran out. Joey ran out first and then I got the lead and then we ran out.
You know, we ran a good race. We ran up front all day. Joey and I were kind of in a league of our own. We definitely need to look at that and see how we were last year and how we excelled from here to there and try to carry that momentum. Obviously Pocono next week is a place I haven't won at yet, so I would certainly like to check that box and get that one off the list which only leaves Charlotte. We'll just focus on one thing at a time and look forward to next week.
Q. There was something new this year for you at the Brickyard, and that was your wife and your son at the start‑finish line and kissing the bricks. Looked like he was having a great time. Were you enjoying as much seeing him doing it as you were enjoying it for yourself?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, no doubt. It's definitely awesome to have him here and have her here, as well. It's fun to celebrate as a family. We celebrate as a team, but we are one big family of guys and her, of course, too. It's just neat to see him growing up and he's growing up so fast. He's 14 months old, so he was here last year, you know, but he had no clue what was going on last year. Probably still doesn't have a clue about what's going on right now. But he's getting closer and closer to realizing what all that is.
One of these days I'm sure he'll want to be out there having a chance of his own to go for a Brickyard 400 victory, so that'll be fun to see.
THE MODERATOR: Congratulations on the win today, and obviously the weekend sweep, too.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports