|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
April 8, 2018
Fort Worth, Texas
THE MODERATOR: We're going to continue with our post race media availabilities for today's O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. We are joined by crew chief Adam Stevens and car owner Coach Joe Gibbs.
Adam, take us through at least the final few laps from the pit box.
ADAM STEVENS: The final few laps? Gosh, I don't know. Once we made that last green flag stop, I was committed to not pitting again. It was kind of out of my hands at that point. It was just to see if we could hold off the 4.
They had a really good car, they were fast. Seemed like we were pretty evenly matched. It was going to be a tall task to pass a car that was evenly matched, as it would have been for us to pass him.
Kyle got on the wheel, busted out those last 25 laps, and here we are.
THE MODERATOR: Coach, in addition to Kyle winning, we had Erik in. Talk about that for Joe Gibbs Racing.
JOE GIBBS: I got to tell you, Erik is really coming on for us. We think we got somebody there that's really talented. Reser's was on that car. We were excited for them, leading laps, having a chance up front. It was really special.
But the other thing about coming to Dallas for us is I showed up on Norm Miller's doorstep the story is with nothing but a sheet of paper. I didn't have a driver. I didn't have a race shop. I had zero, nothing.
He took a chance on us. For us to be able to be back here, be in Dallas in his backyard, get a win for Interstate was really awesome. I called Mars, Victoria, the people there, because they're the major player on that car. Having Norm on it, being a partner with them, get along great, it's a special day for us.
I appreciate everybody back at the race shop. We did a little Facebook thing with them. Thanked everybody, J.D. and everybody back home.
It's a huge deal for us.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions for Adam and Coach.
Q. Coach, it seemed like you gave an especially passionate speech to the crew afterwards. Could you share part of that message with us.
JOE GIBBS: Well, everybody knows that this sport is so hard for these guys. We go 38 weeks. They're traveling all the time on a weekend. It's a lot of hard work back at the shop. Our pit crew today, I think Adam will tell you this, just did a great job for us. It's total team. You have a tendency, you say it's just the driver. I know Adam gets so much credit because they deserve it. But it's a lot of those people behind them, everybody back at our shop, that's what makes us as strong as we are.
When we get a chance after a victory like that, get the guys together, have a little prayer, thank the Lord for having a great day, letting us do something that's so exciting.
Most people around the world never get to have a day like this, never even have enough to eat. Here we are getting the racecars and having fun. We're just thankful.
Q. Adam, I know we're seven races in, but when a guy like Kyle Busch hasn't gotten a win yet, it feels like‑‑ have y'all brought what y'all need? You're qualified for the Playoffs now. What does this open up for the rest of the season?
ADAM STEVENS: I mean, if you take a step back, look how competitive we've been each and every week, we've had cars up front. So I didn't feel awful. Feel a lot worse if we were coming to the track and weren't competitive.
We come to the track, we come to win, we've just come up short. We've led a lot of laps, been nipping at their heels, but haven't been able to put it all together.
If you keep putting yourself in those positions, we keep building good cars at the shop, everybody keeps working together, pulling the rope in the same direction, keep having good pit stops, Kyle keeps doing what he's doing behind the wheel, you're going to win races, your fair share at a fairly high clip. We've been right there at it all year long and were able to get it done today.
Q. Joe, when you see Kyle a little frustrated at places like Martinsville after finishing second, are you like, He's in a good spot? Are you concerned like, You'll get your win, it will be all right?
JOE GIBBS: Actually, those are long weeks. He's upset afterwards (laughter). But I think during the week, we have our competition meeting. Adam does such a good job. I think Kyle has a lot of confidence in Adam and our team.
But it is frustrating when, you know, you feel like, you know, second sometimes, you know, it's so hard. Then when you have several of those, you just have kind of feel like it kind of builds up.
I'm glad we get this one. And the way we got it at the end, to race the 4 car like that, two of the top cars battling down the stretch, I thought it was a great finish.
Q. Harvick kind of went off a little bit on the pit guns, them being handed out to everybody, still not working all the time. I'm curious what your experience has been. Do you feel like these growing pains are worth it if saves you the money of developing them?
JOE GIBBS: No, I don't. I don't like things not in our hands. So, you know, be quite truthful, I've taken a stand on that. That's something that I hope we continue to really evaluate, continue to evaluate that.
Q. Adam, I know the boss is sitting right there and expressed an opinion on this, but have you had any problems this year with the pit guns? How much of a concern is it for you when you're coming into a pit stop whether they're going to be reliable or not?
ADAM STEVENS: Yes, we have had problems. I don't keep a mental list. But I think California was the last time we had an issue. So we got through the last two races without an issue, to the best of my knowledge.
We haven't had a catastrophic failure like sockets falling off or something you've maybe seen on somebody else's car. We've had a couple button issues, had a couple pressure issues.
Is it concerning? It is. You can't change your race strategy. If you need tires, you need tires. I think it puts a lot of doubt in the changers' minds, probably makes them make more mistakes up and down pit road than maybe what they would have if they had more confidence in their equipment.
It doesn't change how you call a race, but you're definitely on edge, listening for a problem, looking for a problem. Just ready to adjust. If your number comes up, then your number comes up.
Q. Adam, there were a couple of penalties, one non‑call on uncontrolled tires today. In one particular instance they let one go on Harvick's team that allowed them to challenge you at the end. Did you see that, thought that was a penalty? Do you have any opinion on how they're calling uncontrolled tires this year?
ADAM STEVENS: No, I'm sorry, I didn't see it. I was really focused on what we were trying to do.
But, you know, that's something that when the situation like that happens, we will evaluate that, try to get clarification so that we know what the rules are going forward. Generally they're pretty consistent about that. But not having seen it, I can't tell you exactly if I would have called it a penalty myself or not.
But at the end of the day it didn't affect the race for us. But I guess the guys behind him, that finished behind him, would have been a spot better if he would have gotten called for a penalty. I'll have to look at that video.
Q. Your understanding is if it's at arm's length?
ADAM STEVENS: If it's outside of your control, then they generally call it a penalty. But I have not seen what happened. Or if you let go of it before halfway back in the box, when you're rolling it back to the wall.
Q. Coach, Erik Jones, could you talk a little bit about his development so far. The kid has tremendous speed. If he can ever get that channeled going in the right direction, he's going to win a lot of races.
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, I think, too, it's having everything around him. Obviously he's had some changes here. We started with the 77 with them and brought him over. So there has been quite a bit going on with changes around him.
I think as soon as we get everything kind of settled down, I think for him, what he's got, he's got real speed every place we go he shows that. Toyota for a long time has really felt like he could be somebody that's really special, and we do too. Everything we see about him, we feel that way.
I think today was a good example. I thought he had a shot today. He did, too. He thought he had a chance.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations on the win. Good luck next week.
We are going to wrap up our post race media availability today. We are joined by our race winner, Kyle Busch, driver of the No.18 Interstate Batteries Toyota.
You seemed to do pretty well in the spring here. Take us through that end and holding off the 4 car.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, it was certainly a really good day for us. Our Interstate Batteries Camry was fast. We had good speed all day long. It was a little difficult to pass, especially when you got up to somebody, you play with that accordion effect from four to six lengths or so, just trying to get that guy to make a mistake in order to get under him, in order to get by him.
That was kind of the tale of the tape there and at the end for myself with Harvick. That last restart, I got a really good restart, was able to kind of get away a little bit. Looked like I shut his air off a couple times. He got loose, kind of fell back a little. He was able to run it back down to get back to within that six, four, five lengths again. Kind of stopped there, felt out, that was kind of as close as he could get thankfully.
I was just kind of focusing on what I was doing, making sure I could hit all my marks, hit all my laps there at the end of the race. If I didn't make a mistake, then he was just going to have to get by me and out‑take us or overtake us and be able to get the race for himself. But we held him off.
Good day for us and Interstate Batteries Toyota here at Texas Motor Speedway.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions for Kyle.
Q. You have tied Bill Elliott with number of wins in the Cup Series. What are your thoughts on that?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, it's cool. Certainly any time you keep winning races and kind of keep moving up the ladder, it's really special. For myself and for as much as I love to win and hate to lose, it obviously feels a heck of a lot better when you can be in this room talking about a win rather than a second or third, something like that, like we have been the past six weeks.
That's hopefully going to continue to grow and continue to get farther up. We'll see how far we can get.
Q. Buck Baker is next. What do you say?
KYLE BUSCH: All right. Well, watch out Buck Baker.
Q. You're a proven winner, have been very close this year. Nonetheless, is there any sense of relief to get the first one of the season?
KYLE BUSCH: Yes, it certainly is. Especially here at Texas, this is probably not one of my best racetracks. We've definitely run well here or run better here the last few years. But, you know, you tend to struggle sometimes at some places, and this one is kind of one of those, especially with a repave. For me, they're just not my favorites.
To be out front and to have the track position when we did, how we did, was really great for us. My guys did an amazing job on pit road all day. We had that close call there with that one restart in one and two with Chase on our outside. From there we were kind of able to work our way back up through traffic, you know, kind of jump a couple guys under the pit stops there.
Overall I felt like our car was either first or second all day long.
Q. Joe said days after you finish second can be long days. I'm curious how many long days you had after Martinsville.
KYLE BUSCH: Uhm, I don't know. I think he just says that because we go to the shop and I give everybody hell on Mondays or Tuesdays during our meetings, you know. That's kind of the biggest thing, is just making sure that you keep trying to put the drive and the fire, keep everybody lit up, fired up. I feel like I'm pretty easy to be able to do that because of myself and my temperament and my drive and my focus and everything that I do behind the wheel.
As much as I give it everything I got, I want to make sure all of our people are giving it everything they've got, too. They've been doing a phenomenal job the last three, four years especially. Our Toyotas have been good. They've been fast. Joe Gibbs Racing as a whole has been good. Everything with communication between all of teams has been phenomenal.
We'll just keep plugging along, keep going. I still feel like we need to improve more and more. It feel goods to be able to run as fast as we are with still I feel like the improvements that we can make.
Q. When you got to vacation, you were fine?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, man, you got to forget about it. You got to move on. It certainly stung driving home from Martinsville the whole way home. From there the next morning we were on to vacation. I wasn't worried about anything after that.
Q. Now that we saw your win today, can you get on the same roll we saw Harvick did?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't know. Possibly. We go to another couple of really good tracks for us. Bristol next week, then I think Richmond after that. So obviously two really good places for us that we tend to run well at. I'm looking forward to that. I'm looking forward to being able to get the job done at those places.
Bristol is one of my favorites. I know it's one of a lot of drivers' favorites. Harvick tends to run well there, too. Jones runs well there, as well. We just got to make sure that we do everything that we've done the past few times there to be fast and put a good racecar on the racetrack for the race.
Q. Second time in 2018 you led the most laps in a race, and 57th time in your career, 11th all time on that list. Your thoughts on that?
KYLE BUSCH: Any time you're out front, being able to lead laps, that obviously gives you a better chance of winning the race. I think it was two years ago I think I led the most laps in five or six races and lost all of them in a row. That was pretty discouraging.
But to be able to be up front, to be able to lead laps, that just kind of shows that your team is good, you're capable of doing the right things. But, man, these things are so hard to win. You have to have all the stars aligned. To be able to put it all together is really challenging.
Fortunately for us, though, we're kind of working to continue our upswing. And the way things have been going this year with Joe Gibbs Racing and our team, hopefully more are left to come.
Q. Your comment also on leading the competition on stage points with 89 points, seven races into 2018.
KYLE BUSCH: Again, just being up front. When you're up front and you got good pit stops and you have fast racecars, that obviously just is twofold. It comes to you pretty easily.
When you struggle on Fridays, and you don't qualify well, you got to start back or deeper in the field, that tends to hurt or hinder your opportunity to be able to pick up those stage points.
For us, we've been qualifying well, we've been fast, we've been running up front, just doing the things that we need to do. Hopefully we can continue that.
Q. I know it had only been nine or ten races since you lost won, but because you finished second four times, Homestead was in there, had it seemed longer or more agonizing for you between your typical wins?
KYLE BUSCH: Yes and no. Certainly being that close, it gets a little old a little faster, you know. But if you're finishing fifth or tenth, whatever, you're just not capable of winning, it certainly will draw out longer, as well, too. But you know you weren't there yet. Your stuff's not there yet, or you're just not getting the job done yet.
But being as close as you are, that kind of hurts a little bit more, especially that final one, that one that matters, that Homestead one. That's probably the one that stings the most. We just got to make sure that we can do the right things that that don't happen again this year.
Q. You still have the same drive, the same fire and competitive spirit and all that, but you climbed out of the car at Martinsville pretty low‑key for finishing the runner‑up. Do you feel now you handle some of the things that frustrate you or the frustrations themselves better?
KYLE BUSCH: This ain't no new Kyle talk again, is it? That doesn't exist.
You know, the second place after Martinsville, it was obviously discouraging. But we were third to fourth for the early part of the race, then we were second or third kind of the end of the race. Blaney was really fast. They kind of got tight, I guess, and fell back. But then Bowyer was up there. He was one that I just couldn't really keep up with. I felt like I was trying to save my stuff to get there to have a shot to give me one last bit at getting the win. He was just really good. There wasn't much there for me.
You can't get too disappointed in races that you are meant to finish second. The ones that really tick you off and get you deep down is when you're leading and you've led a lot of laps and somebody passes you, then you finish second. In that regard, somebody outdoes you there at the end. I've had it happen to me, I've also done it to a few people. I know how much those ones sting.
Q. Before the green flag dropped, you captured a victory during driver introductions. You got a chance to make a true impact in a child's life. Talk a little bit about that, how much moments like that correlate to success on the track for you.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, it was an awesome opportunity for Stanley. I really want to thank Stanley Racing, all the guys from Daniel Suarez' team and everything, that they had a child on the grid with us, with a couple of the drivers, me being one of them.
It was really impactful to kind of meet him, talk to him for a few minutes, get a chance to kind of hear his story a little bit. We walked the intro stage. I'm not sure if he got all the cheers. I'm definitely sure I got all the boos.
It felt really good to just kind of make his day for five minutes. That's about what we had. But from there, we got onto the intro trucks, the ride around and everything. It was pretty cool.
Q. Can you explain what happened after the stage two restart where all of a sudden you went sliding back through the field? What was going on with your car at that point?
KYLE BUSCH: Nothing. It was fine. We had a restart there with Erik Jones. Erik chose the top. We were kind of going to do the teammate restart, if you will. I was going to let him down getting into turn one. When I did that, Chase had a good enough run that he got to my outside. He just got right on my door, real tight on my door, just kind of sucked the air off my car, got me really loose, really sideways. I was just chattering the rear tires, trying to get the car back under control. Guys were blitzing me, going by me and everything. Just trying to regain everything. Getting into three, I think I may have kind of boxed somebody or something happened when there was a wreck behind me. I'm not sure.
The car was fine. I just took off real bad on that restart there. No harm, no foul thankfully for us. We didn't get any part of any of the wreck or anything like that. We just kind of focused forward from there on out, got back up to where we needed to.
Q. On that note, after the Hamlin wreck, Brad Keselowski said the only thing you could blame was aerodynamics. Was that the instance where it seemed like guys were losing it between three and four? Was it particularly dicey there? It was surprising to see a lot of veterans who lost control. Not a lot of young guys seemed to be losing out.
KYLE BUSCH: I don't know all the instances of who crashed or what all happened. I don't know. I'd have to see some replays of all of that.
But yes, it does lend itself to aerodynamics. The guy on the outside just doesn't want to get any wider than he has to because of how wide the racetrack is. You want to stay in that black. You want to stay in that rubber. The closer you can stay or the lower you can stay, the better the grip is. So you're going to pinch that guy that's on the inside of you as much as you can in order to hold your position or keep that position, if you're the guy on the outside, sacrifice yourself.
You're playing with fire. It's a double‑edged sword. You can pin him, keep that spot, or you can pin him and crash, and he can take you with him. You have to be mindful of that.
That's what happened with me and Chase. He got on my door, pinned me a little bit tight, I thought, sucked me around. Fortunately I was able to hang onto it. We weren't at the speed that you are in three and four in one and two there. So I didn't crash thankfully.
Yeah, that's just a product of being real tight on everybody's door like that.
THE MODERATOR: Kyle, congratulations. Thanks for joining us.
KYLE BUSCH: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports