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July 29, 2018
Long Pond, Pennsylvania
THE MODERATOR: We are beginning to be joined by members of our race‑winning team, which is the No.18 M&M's Caramel Toyota. We are joined by our crew chief Adam Stevens. We are going to start off with a question from the press box. Was it a group decision to pit all five Toyotas before the end of Stage 2, and do you think that changed the course of the race?
ADAM STEVENS: It definitely changed the course of the race, but no, it was not a group decision. I think everybody was doing what was best for their teams individually, and it was just so hard to get track position. That seemed like the best call to do it.
Q. What were you thinking at the start of the race when you guys were in the back and obviously yesterday with the qualifying issues, to come out here with this win? It's a pretty big deal.
ADAM STEVENS: Well, you're always thinking you have a chance to win. We have Joe Gibbs Racing equipment, we have Mars backing us, and we have Kyle Busch driving. I know if I do my job and keep my team focused that we'll have a chance to win. Practice and qualifying don't really play into the mental aspect of that at all, so I had high hopes we were going to have a good car, and we did.
You know, we made quick work up there to the top 10, and once you get in the top 10, it's just a regular race from there.
THE MODERATOR: We are also joined by team owner Joe Gibbs.
Q. Adam, were you worried that the car wouldn't have the speed after whatever changes you had to make to get through tech last night?
ADAM STEVENS: Not really. The issues that we had in tech, the reason we failed was completely my oversight. There's a rule with a number of fans that you're allowed to have to cool the tires and brakes, and I didn't misread it, I just neglected to read it, and says plain as day that you can only have one, and when you have two, you're outside of the rules. They can point to it and tell you, and you say, oh, yeah, I'm an idiot. You fix it and you move on.
But we were on post‑race tolerance, post‑qualifying, and then we had to go to pre‑race tolerance for some of the chassis measurements. But I wasn't really concerned that it was going to affect the speed of our car. I was gravely concerned that it was going to hurt our pit selection and have a negative impact on us every time we came down pit road, but the speed of the car not so much.
Q. Kyle ties Tony for number of wins. Are they at all alike? Is there any way that you compare them or are they totally different?
JOE GIBBS: I think they're a lot alike, to be truthful. I think they've always got things going. I think they want to race cars every night. I think that's very similar for both of them.
I think the difference is Kyle now having the baby and Sam and Brexton, I think he's taking a different path. But when they get in a race car, I think both of them are very talented, driven, want to go to the front, and I haven't seen him I don't think a weekend ever where he hasn't been that way. And both of them are real talented, that's for sure.
Appreciate everybody, Toyota, our partners there, Interstate Batteries and Mars/M&M's. I appreciate Adam and all the hard work, everybody back home, J.D., everybody back at the race shop. We try to have a little celebration on Mondays when we win so that they get some kind of a celebration because they're never with us here, so I appreciate everybody back home working on the cars and all the things that they do back there to get us to the racetrack.
Q. Coach Gibbs, obviously Kyle is a veteran and established and a former champion, but how good was it to see your two younger drivers finally crack the top 5? They all kind of dove three wide into that turn on the restart.
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, let me say this: That scared me. I'm not sure about that as far as wisdom goes. But no, I was really pleased. I think Erik has really got on a roll and for about the last seven weeks or so has really stepped up and had top 10s and going after it and getting that win at Daytona. And I think Daniel has just fought so hard each and every week, and seemed like something would happen to us, it just would take him out of contention, out of the top 10. It was great to see him have a day like today. Everybody, pit crew and everything, with the 19 car and Daniel drove the hang out of it, and really proud of them, both young guys.
Stanley, I had a chance to call them, Stanley Black & Decker, had a chance to call Jim Loree. Great partners. They're going to be taking a whole car next year for us, which is going to be a huge deal. We're coming out with Craftsman here in a few weeks. So it's a big deal for us.
Q. Is Stanley sponsoring the car for the whole season?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, they'll have the car. They'll be the major sponsor next year.
Q. For Suárez?
JOE GIBBS: Well, right now it's probably going to be with Erik.
Q. Besides Kyle winning, all four of your cars finished in the top 10 today, and they all led laps, as well. How much of a confidence booster is this for your entire team moving into the final five regular season races of the season, and do you think a day like today will help Denny or Daniel get closer to Victory Lane before the regular season ends?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah, I sure hope so. I think Daniel gave it everything he had today. We keep waiting for Denny to hit it, and I really appreciate today. I felt like all four of our cars were strong, and it's great because this is a big horsepower deal, thanks to Toyota and our cars ran extremely well today. Really proud, and big day for us.
I think it does give you a lot of confidence going forward and getting ready for the Chase. Yeah, I think it helps a lot.
Q. Your four drivers all finished in the top 10 with Kyle taking the checkered flag and Daniel finishing second. As a team owner what does having all four of your drivers finish in the top 10 do for your shop for the upcoming race week?
JOE GIBBS: Well, everybody back at our shop‑‑ when we're back home, everybody is one big team. Everybody works on all four cars. We have a bonus program, and everybody shares in that bonus based on how we do on the weekend. So everybody is motivated. It's a huge deal for us and all of our people there across the board are working as hard as they can. It's kind of amazing to me that when you get to the racetrack, we just don't have a lot of issues, you know, when we get to the racetrack. By that I mean issues with the car mechanically. And so it's a big deal. The preparation and everything is a big deal. And staying on top of this, we're racing against the best people in the world that race cars, and we have great organizations we go against, and it's a huge deal when you can get all four of your cars for a weekend performing well.
Q. Adam, we talked yesterday and then you told‑‑ explained what happened, the reason why you guys didn't get through inspection. Do you guys have a talk about that when you kind of say you apologize, don't worry, we'll bail you out, that kind of thing? How do you pick each other up or how do they pick you up after you making the mistake there?
ADAM STEVENS: Kyle and I don't really do a lot of apologizing. He knows I'm trying to do my best, I know he's trying to do his best. You'll make mistakes and you'll have oversights. I'm embarrassed about it. I'm not sorry about it. It's not that big of a deal. Nobody died. Nothing caught on fire. You know, it was just one of those things. I've just got to maybe read the whole rule book in my downtime. Maybe I'll do it on the plane ride home.
THE MODERATOR: We're also now joined by the driver of the No.18 M&M's Caramel Toyota, Kyle Busch. We're going to start off with a question from the press box for you. With this win, you tie Tony Stewart for 13th on the all‑time Cup Series wins list with 49. Next up are Hall of Famers Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson. Where do you see yourself on this list by the time your driving career is over?
KYLE BUSCH: The top. That's pretty simple. As far as where we're at right now, though, Tony is a great friend of mine and really one of the guys that I kind of looked up to coming up through, and‑‑ but Tony was a great teammate, great friend and still is, so it's pretty cool to tie him, and certainly means a lot to kind of keep climbing the ladder and getting to the next bunch of guys, and eclipsing that 50 is going to be pretty special.
There's no stop in Adam or myself or Joe or Toyota or M&M's or none of us, so we want to be able to go out there and continue on and keep this pattern going for years to come.
Q. Adam and Kyle, this track has been tough for you guys to close the deal. I know Kyle for your whole career. Now you win two of the last three races here at Pocono, and Kyle, you end up sweeping the weekend. Have you guys figured out something about this place, or is it just a matter of finally executing 100 percent and closing it all out?
ADAM STEVENS: You know, for me, we've been here‑‑ gosh, this is our fourth year, I guess. We've been fast, arguably fast enough to win every single time, and that's because we have good cars and good equipment and strong engines, and Kyle knows how to get around this place. His feedback is such that if you give him what he's looking for, you're going to be fast. The reason why you don't win them all is because this is a really difficult place to win with the pit strategy and not losing a lap if you're within the gap, and now the segments, and it's just too easy when you're running fourth or fifth to do the opposite of the leader and put him in a bad spot.
I expect to come up here and be competitive again next year. I have no idea if we'll be in a spot to win a race for all of those reasons.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, I think to Adam's point, too, it's just when you get here and you kind of get a feel for what you think is right and you try to find that over again, like this weekend we were trying to find what we had last year, and it just was not working for me. I could not figure it out. We just kept fighting along and making changes to the car and trying to find that feel. What's crazy is the setup is not that far off of what we ran here last year, but we just had to change so many things to get it to where it felt like it did last year. So something was different, and we know the tires were a little bit different, but overall just there were some other things that we couldn't quite pinpoint. But as the race went on, we just kept doing it and working on it and making it better and better each time.
Q. There at the end, three JGR cars turned into 1. I asked Daniel, were you thinking about kind of bumping him a little bit, he said, if I could have got to him. Were you worried about any of that?
KYLE BUSCH: I mean, I was. Just that is so far on tires to then have to sit there and restart on. I was just nervous for that fact that we were all going to race down into Turn 1 and not really know what grip level we all had, and just bombs going off everywhere and figuring out where we were all going to land at the end of it.
You know, fortunately they're very, very talented young drivers with the 20 and the 19, Erik and Daniel both, and humbly I kind of feel bad I was the guy that was in front of Daniel when he finished second. He could have won. I mean, he was right there with us all day long. He trailed us that whole run, and I couldn't shake him. I couldn't get away from him, and I was trying, but he was right there that whole time, and he stayed in front of Chase. Like he was good.
Selfishly, though, I'll admit that I'm glad we scored the victory for the 18 team, and we can continue to work on our championship drive and what we want to do and making it through the playoffs with bonus points and such.
With Daniel and those guys, they had an awesome run, and they should be proud of that.
Q. Kyle, it's been 15 years to the weekend you made your first start here. Can you recall your first race here at Pocono? I think also your ARCA pole speed was faster than the Cup pole speed that weekend, as well.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I think it was. That's back when ARCA cars were faster than Cup cars. I remember‑‑ I don't remember where I qualified, but I remember I finished third. Just a good, solid day, being able to race in the 5 car and just kind of salvaged what I thought was a pretty good first run here. Denny was obviously really, really good when he got here I think the following season. I think he swept both races. But for myself, the next race we came here, and same thing as we fought today, like I had no feel, couldn't figure anything out, ended up blowing a rear brake rotor and was in the Turn 1 wall. Those things can certainly change on you in a hurry when you don't have exactly what you think you need to be good here.
Q. Adam, did you like the schedule yesterday, and are you good with teching everybody after qualifying?
ADAM STEVENS: Yeah. I mean, honestly, anything that keeps us home an extra day is good for me. I have a family, most of us do, and if we can spend some extra time with them, it takes a little stress off the year.
Yeah, I really liked it. It takes a little bit of getting used to. You're into your routines, and I probably had a little bit of a foggy head all weekend just not knowing what was next and not being prepared as maybe I could have been. But you know, we do this a couple more times and it'll be old hat to everybody. I think it's the right way to go.
Q. Do you think it resulted in more cars failing?
ADAM STEVENS: Oh, sure. I mean, like I said, our issue was completely avoidable. It was an oversight. I don't know what all the other issues were. But the more we do it, the better everybody will get at it. It's a little surprising that we went from two to 13 failures, but that's part of it. But I don't think that's a reason not to do it by any means.
Q. Kyle, you kind of touched on it a little bit with tying Tony Stewart on the all‑time wins list, but also this year you've tied and passed Bill Elliott, Buck Baker and Herb Thomas, all past champions of the sport. Just get your comment on that, as well?
KYLE BUSCH: I mean, any time you're able to continue to win races in this series, it's obviously just that extra step, and you keep continuing to climb the ladder. There's a lot of great names that I've passed already and that I've tied today with Tony and that I very much look up to that are higher and look to one day be able to accomplish all of them.
But as far as how many can you get, it just‑‑ I don't know. I'd like to think that everything is achievable, but we've just got to keep working at it and keep doing what we can do. I don't think I can drive that long to get to 200. I'd better start winning 10 in a year in order to get there quicker. But overall it's been fun, and there's a lot of great respect to those that have been there and won that many races and have been legends of our sport, many of them Hall of Famers that I can continue to excel on.
Q. Kyle, earlier this weekend Denny kind of praised you and the team saying that you guys are able to consistently out‑execute and out‑perform sometimes what the car is capable of. Is there a way to explain how that happens because I think arguably today you didn't have the best car but there you were again steadily moving up and winning?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I can't pinpoint it. Honestly, normally in our team meetings, one of us or some or all of us are kind of vocal when we have our meetings here at the racetrack on a given weekend after practices, and yesterday Daniel was kind of quiet, so we were all kind of like what's he doing, like he didn't want to show his hand, and we knew‑‑ so then we were like, hey, you're kind of quiet; does that mean you're pretty good? And he sat on the pole. It was like, oh, all right, well, 19 feels good about what he's got going on, playing a little possum, if you will, so that was cool to see that he was good, though, so he knew that he was getting the most out of what he had here this weekend. And I feel like we can a lot of times get the most out of our cars or out‑excel what we feel like our cars are capable of, which is really, really good when you can do that.
You're not going to be able to do it all the time. There's certainly competitors and the competition like Hendrick or 42 or some of the Penske guys and whoever that are going to get better over time, and it's going to be harder and harder to out‑perform them on a given day because they're going to get closer to us.
Q. Kyle, the last two days you've gotten in a battle with former drivers that you've been the owner of. How does it feel to see people that you've basically watched grow up and pulled into and basically mentored them and you get to race against them on Sunday?
KYLE BUSCH: It's going to suck when they beat me. I don't know. It's‑‑ have I done a good job?
JOE GIBBS: Pretty good job I have to say.
KYLE BUSCH: I'm running myself out of a job is what I'm doing. One of these days, they're going to have it all put together, and they're going to be able to out‑shine me and beat me, which is fine, I guess. You know, it's just a matter of time before they continue to do that, and it's really cool to see Jones‑‑ Suárez finished second, but Jones ran fifth, right?
JOE GIBBS: Yeah.
KYLE BUSCH: He got passed by a couple there on that restart. I think him and the 19 were racing real hard. But he's been really consistent the last couple months, and that's very important when it comes down to him getting his win at Daytona and now being able to get in the playoffs, and if the playoffs started right now with the consistency he's got, he's doing pretty good.
That's really cool to see from those guys. Obviously it's a team effort. We all work together as much as we can to keep excelling, all of us, and bringing all of us to the forefront.
Q. Kyle, starting 28th, you, Harvick, everyone that obviously had their times disqualified had to charge through the field there. How dicey was that at the start, and were you ever concerned at some point that you wouldn't be able to get where you needed to be to feel comfortable?
KYLE BUSCH: There were a couple times that were tense moments, but nothing too out of the ordinary. A couple lap cars, you're going down Long Pond and you kind of shallow to the inside a little bit to kind of show them that you're looking, and then they go off into the corner instead of letting you go off into the corner. You're side by side with them right in the middle of Turn 2, and it's like, man, not only are you costing yourself time but you're costing me time. So it's just tense moments when you get stuff like that happening.
But overall, just for us, it was okay coming through. Harvick obviously was really, really fast and got through there a lot faster than I did. Just him being able to turn better and be faster there the first stint. I feel like we worked on our car and got it better and got it closer. But still, when we restarted, he was on the outside and I was behind him and we cleared those guys and we were one‑two, he was driving away from me. So they were pretty fast.
Q. Kyle, you did the trifecta in Bristol in 2010 and 2017, and now you've done it here at Pocono.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, you're right.
Q. Is that special?
KYLE BUSCH: I'll make a shirt, then it'll be special.
It is. I actually thought about that earlier and then I forgot until you said something. But yeah, we won the Xfinity race here, too, this year, so we won Truck, Xfinity and a Cup race here, so that's pretty neat. I guess we just missed one, winning the Cup race here in the spring.
But overall it feels really good, and I strive to get better at each and every racetrack, and you try to do that every year, and things change; setups change; cars change; aerodynamics change; tires change; all kinds of things. And just with all that stuff, you've got to keep ahead of it and keep on top of it and try to make sure that you're giving everything you've got to your team and making sure that you've got the stuff to get it done.
Q. I think Truex only finished 15th today; was there any focus on where he or the 4 were running throughout the day? Obviously I know you came up through the field with the 4.
KYLE BUSCH: No. We were second to the 4 and we weren't going to catch him, so he was going to get the stage win, so we knew that we kind of had to get off strategy from them if we were going to have a shot to beat them. That's what we did. They wanted the stage point, we wanted the win. So we pitted, and then were able to get out in front of him when the cycle went through when they came to pit road under yellow, and then we were able to be up front the rest of the day. I think they also had trouble on pit road. I think Adam told me that something got caught up with some damage or whatever. But obviously they still had plenty of speed because they came up through the field and finished fourth.
Overall that was a really, really good recovery for them. I don't know if we could have recovered that well, so that's why we've got to go to work and continue to try to get better.
Q. You mentioned the Xfinity race and your tweet a while ago made me think of this. The trophies, do you have an expanded room now? What are you doing with everything that you're racking up here?
KYLE BUSCH: I build trophy cases to then house trophies, and I get more and I don't have any more room. I do have a trophy case problem. I ask for bonuses in my contract so that I can make new trophy cases. So I'm behind right now. There's a lot of them that are in people's rooms at KBM or offices and they're on the floor and they're on desktops and whatever. Luckily my lady that I have, my assistant girl, she keeps track of where everything is at and where they're at and stuff. We've got a whole list running right now. It's pretty good.
JOE GIBBS: I'm going to tell you the truth. I work for him. So let's get that off the‑‑
I did fail to mention one thing when we talked about all of our cars being up and everybody back home, as hard as they work. I mentioned J.D., and J.D.'s situation right now, everybody here, I just want to say, Coy has taken that role, and also oversees our motocross, but he came over to our side. It's total team and total family, so I appreciate those guys so much and all the hard work behind the scenes. Everybody there at the‑‑ really a day like today where everything goes well and you run up front, you just realize how fortunate you are to have people like that. Many of them have been there 20, 25 years. So it's a thrill for me to be a part of the team, and certainly our family, it's a huge deal for Coy, myself and J.D.
KYLE BUSCH: It's a good thing I befriended Coy when I was 16. He's got my back, so it's good to have him.
JOE GIBBS: Actually, I've got to tell the story. Coy was running trucks at the time. I forgot where we were‑‑
KYLE BUSCH: It was California when they booted me.
JOE GIBBS: So I called him, and I said, how you doing. He goes, I'm doing pretty good. He said, I feel pretty good. But he said, there's a kid here that showed up, and he's three tenths faster than the field. And he goes, but he's only 16. I hope they kick him out. And they did. It was him.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, that happened.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports