Bristol II: Winning team press conference, part 1

Sharpie 500 Post-Race Transcript An interview with: KYLE BUSCH - Winning driver STEVE ADDINGTON - Crew chief JOE GIBBS - Team owner KERRY THARP: We'll roll into our post race press conference. Kyle Busch, 16th victory in NASCAR Sprint Cup ...

Bristol II: Winning team press conference, part 1

Sharpie 500 Post-Race Transcript

An interview with:
KYLE BUSCH - Winning driver
JOE GIBBS - Team owner

KERRY THARP: We'll roll into our post race press conference. Kyle Busch, 16th victory in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. His fourth win in 2009. Kyle, your third win here at Bristol. Certainly a big win for you tonight as we have two to go before the Chase.

KYLE BUSCH: Certainly was. The whole M&Ms team did a phenomenal job this weekend. They really worked hard. We tried making the car better in practice, made a lot of changes to it and everything. Again, the guys made some smart calls there during the race, Steve and Chris and everybody.

We worked on it all night. We never gave up on it. We never had the best car I didn't feel like. We just kept plugging away at it, making some adjustments, trying to make the car faster, make it better in the short run, better in the long run, where it was capable enough of keeping up with the 5 in general. Man, that thing was just flawless tonight. That thing was so fast. We did what we needed to do.

We got track position when it mattered most there on the last stop. Got by the 55 and the 39 when it mattered. Wish we could have set sail from there. But we had some cautions there late and the red flag and everything.

Really set up a tight battle between myself and Mark Martin, who is the best car all night. Man, what an honorable racecar driver Mark Martin is. Such an honor to race with him. To give him the room that he needed, for him to give me the room I needed was awesome. I can't thank him enough. He didn't let me win the race, but he certainly didn't take it from us. Man, I love those guys on that team.

I know how bad Alan wants to win and how bad Mark wants to win. We had what mattered most when it mattered most and we were able to get the victory tonight. Real proud of M&M, Toyota, Interstate Batteries, all those people that make it possible for us.

KERRY THARP: Coach Gibbs, a big win tonight for that 18 team, particularly as we look with the Chase only a couple races out.

JOE GIBBS: Yeah, I echo what Kyle said about Mark. I mean, I thought that was a heck of a race. Classy guy. Obviously he could have chose to go at it a little differently there at the end. I think everybody was giving everything they have had. I thought it was a great race. Appreciate Steve and the whole team. Everybody fought hard all day long. Certainly for all of us, M&M, Mars. J.D. and I went up and had a great day at Mars. Really appreciate them, really appreciate Kyle the way he fought tonight.

I'll say this, too. That crowd may be one of the great sporting crowds I've ever been around. 165,000 people, that thing was electric out there. Before the race, and during the race, we really appreciate 'em.

KERRY THARP: Thank you, coach. Crew chief, Steve Addington, what was your view like atop the pit box tonight with the No. 18 car?

STEVE ADDINGTON: It was nerve wracking. Made some adjustments there, and it didn't respond like we thought it would. Just kind of trying to figure out what it was going to take to make the right adjustments to get him to beat the 5 car and the 48. That was the biggest thing, just trying to figure out what he needed to get going there.

KERRY THARP: We'll take questions now for either Kyle, Steve or Coach Gibbs.

Q: Kyle, Mark was in here and complimented you for racing him honorably and clean. What does that mean to you? If you can contrast what the firestorm of a week earlier with Vickers?

KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, it's fun when you're able to race around the guys that respect you and that you respect back. So Mark is one of those guys. I mean, you know, I go up to Mark all the time and I talk to him all the time. I look up to him a lot. He wasn't the guy that I always looked up to when I was growing up at a kid. But since I've gotten here, he's been one of the closest drivers I've been able to spend time with. Him along with Jeff Burton. Besides the young ones like Speed and Hamlin, the veteran guys, those are the two most guys I probably go to.

It was a blast. I mean, I can't say enough about Mark. I tried giving him enough room so we could try to race side by side and have a good strong run for the fans there. Like coach said, they were electric tonight. When the red flag came out, they didn't stop. Heck, you would have thought the racing was still going on. They were doing the wave and everything. They were fired up tonight for sure.

Q: Kyle, a year ago, for the regular season, you were the champion. You did everything that a champion does. Do you think the Chase affords the opportunity and can you have that consistency that evaded you during the regular season?

KYLE BUSCH: Well, Steve and I talked this week at the shop just trying to come up with some things as to why. We're trying to find the answers, too. We come to Bristol pretty much with the same setup every time, and everywhere else we've sort of changed and gone in a different direction. Maybe that direction isn't the direction we needed to go.

We're thinking about going back more of what we ran setup wise like last year at some of the places, see if it works. We got to try something. We've fallen behind a little bit this year for some reason. I don't know that we've fallen behind as much as everybody else has just gotten better. The Hendrick cars, man, they are just so strong. They were really, really good in 2007, I think they won half the races, especially with the new COT. Last year it looked like we had things going our way, we were really good with it. This year they've been back on top. The 14, the 48 has been good, the 5 has been really, really good.

It's tough. Competition changes all the time, there's waves that go up and down. This year we've been in one of those downs. We're trying to make the Chase. If we barely make it in, we've been clawing at it for the past five weeks just trying to get back up there and make it in. We had a respectable run at Pocono. We lost ground at Michigan on the last run. We had a part that hit our car and ended up bending another piece on our car that caused it to get tight. Just unfortunate circumstances sometimes bite you. You can't do anything about it.

This year has just been a lot of bad luck, too, on my part just being dumb, and getting in the wrong position at the wrong time, and yet just some other failures that we might have had.

Q: (No microphone.)

STEVE ADDINGTON: He walked in my office, I wasn't expecting him to come in. He walked in my office and we sat there for two and a half hours just talking about stuff that we changed our setups, getting our cars back to a consistent feel. We've changed. We talked about why we changed, the reason we made the changes.

I think we're headed in the right direction. We're on the same page. We need to get our cars back to feeling consistent, what we have to do with the setups to get him back to have consistent cars to run fast. That's what we're gonna work on. I'm not gonna sit here and tell you exactly what we've changed. But, yeah, we're gonna get back to that and try to get his cars more consistent so we can just have a building block.

Q: Kyle, you mentioned long green flag runs and a bunch of short runs at the end. What are the chances when you're giving feedback on what the car is doing, you pretty much take yourself out of contention when you have all the short runs at the end, you go the wrong way with the setups?

KYLE BUSCH: I'm trying to piece together what you mean.

You know, we kept trying to work on the short run and the long run tonight. We weren't the best on the short run. We felt like we were a little bit sluggish on the get go compared to the 5 and 48. They would just take off and go. Even the 2 was maybe a little bit better than us on restarts.

It seemed like, you know, lap 20 to 50 we could start running them back down and then we'd kind of level out for another 10 or 15 laps or so, then I might find something we could chug along with again. By the time you get that deep into a run, it's hard to make ground up. It's hard to get by those guys.

I remember here last year I drove right to the front, took the lead. Man, it was easy. This year was way harder. There was a lot more good cars. The 42 was a good car. The 00 was very good in the beginning. The 47 ran really strong A lot of good cars tonight, a lot of different cars that were up there tonight that were good. So it was just something that we had to keep working on both short run and long run to make our car capable of keeping up with the 5.

Q: Kyle and Steve, the last couple weeks the finishes have thrown certain people into looking kind of bleak for the Chase while other people are hanging on by a thread. The last couple races, those people have changed. From your perspective, Kyle, does that pressure, when we look at the stats, it looks kind of crazy, is it more crazy from your perspective and the team's perspective going through that? For instance, last week things didn't look so good, this week winning.

KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, it is. Everybody is like, Oh, you're only a hundred points out or 70 points out or whatever, however many, now 30 something points out. When you look at it, there might be three guys that run strong one week and then a different three guys that are further up in points that struggle the next.

 It separates itself. It's not like we were just fighting the 17 and 16 to get in. There's a gaggle of nine guys that are trying to fight this battle to get in the Chase. Tonight it didn't look like the 83 had a good night. I don't know who else. But I was trying to pay somewhat of attention. But the 47 ran good. He's further behind us. The 39 was decent there. 
 It's so hard to figure out all the time. Okay, we're going to chase the 17 and 16 this week. They run good. Let's say the 42 and the 39 run poorly. So now we're chasing the 39 and 42. The next week they run good again, the 17 and 16, they run poorly again. So it's back and forth. 

It's not a gaggle of guys that you're chasing. You're almost chasing a point total. That point total is 3160. That's what I heard as a round number this week from a source. If you can total 3160 in points, you'll make it in the Chase.

I did the math from 3160, minus what we were, and figured that out, divided it by three, we needed a 147 point average in these next three races, which is sixth.

JOE GIBBS: I'm up a creek as a PE major. I dropped math. We're in trouble.

KYLE BUSCH: It's better today 'cause we got 190 instead of 147. Maybe next week we only need 138, I don't know (laughter). I look a lot smarter than I am. All you need is a calculator. Trust me, you can figure it out. We're just chasing that number. If we can get that number, I think we'll be okay.

STEVE ADDINGTON: He's my boss. I play his game. Go out, do your job, work hard as a race team. You cannot control what the 16, the 17, 39, whoever it may be. You cannot control what they do. You can control what happens to you.

Listening to Joe, work hard, you guys go out and do your job, what you're capable of doing, and all that stuff will fall into place. Our deal is to go out and win races. That's the big thing. If I need to back him down or if we need to be third, finish third at Richmond instead of putting ourself in a bad position to go for a win, I'm going to tell him we're good to go. We'll know where everybody is. We need to go to Atlanta and have a solid run and we'll go to Richmond and see how it plays out.

Q: Kyle, it seems to a lot of people like you've been really unhappy the past many weeks, to the point where another driver has made many comments about how miserable it must be to be you and live your life. A lot of people have sort of started to wonder if your waves of emotions have affected your performance on the track. Can you verbalize to us why winning means so much to you that it sort of has become to us maybe the end all for you. When you don't win, you are absolutely miserable. Do you know why it is that it affects you that much?

KYLE BUSCH: To me, I grew up racing in Vegas. I think I won 35 plus races a year. To me, when you come up into another series, you want to win races. The next year I won 10 out of 15 late model races one year. I'm a guy that loves to win. There's nothing else to me but the feeling of winning.

It's frustrating finishing second or third sometimes. But when you look at the big picture, the big scheme of things, I'm cool back off after the plane ride home. It's just the heat of the moment. It's the 20 minutes from getting out of the car back to the motorhome. But, you know, that's going to be my strong suit coming up.

Unfortunately, there are a lot better ways for me to handle it. I can certainly do a better job at that. But like today, I mean, you see all the faces of the guys in the pits that work so hard, now in Victory Lane, I mean, they're jubilated, they're excited. They know that they've accomplished what they were set out to do. I accomplished what I was set out to do. Steve accomplished what he set out to do. That's to win races.

For us to win races as a team together, I feel like sometimes I let the team down when I don't win a race. That's what I'm most upset about. It's like, it's not that I want to win, it's us as a team that's gonna win. Sometimes I feel like I let them down. Sometimes they feel like they let me down. But we all love each other and dig in for each other as much as we possibly can and do our jobs to the best of our abilities. Some days it's not meant to be. There's better ways for me to recognize and understand that.

Continued in part 2

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