Coke Zero 400: Post-race press conference

An Interview With;




KERRY THARP: We are pleased to be joined by our winning race team, and the winner tonight is Kyle Busch in the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, crew chief Steve Addington, owner Joe Gibbs. Congratulations, gentlemen. This is Kyle's sixth win of the season, and has got 60 bonus points now once we would head into the Chase.

So super job tonight Kyle, your first win at Daytona and back to back wins at restrictor plate tracks. Your thoughts about the race, a lot of ups and downs toward the end. Your thoughts?

KYLE BUSCH: It was a great night for us. We had a pretty good car. It wasn't the best one out there, but it was good enough where we were able to get it up towards the front and race there much of the night.

And we had a great push from Denny down the back straightaway and I pulled with a line to go around the 88 inside, and when I did, the air hit my nose and pinned it to the racetrack and I got squirrely there, and luckily I was able to hang on. It wasn't anything Denny did, but had to save it and got around to the apron. Tried not to come back on the racetrack in front of everybody else and let everybody get by and pulled up behind all those guys.

That was a close call but we made it through it and drove back up through the field a little ways and when the caution came out came in and got some tires and raced with them toward the end of the race, and so it was pretty cool.

KERRY THARP: Sixth win this season for the race team. How did it look atop the pit box tonight for you.

STEVE ADDINGTON: It was nerve wracking. You have to leave it to the spotter and to Kyle to get through the traffic and all that stuff. You really can't see a whole lot of what's going on accept watching the monitor and just going off by what he's saying and try to make the right adjustments for him, and it all worked out. I thought we were in big trouble there with Denny bumping him and then shoved him out of line there, but we recovered from it and he drove it back to the front.

KERRY THARP: This race team certainly is having a lot of success this season. Your thoughts now winning at Daytona with the number 18 car?

J.D. GIBBS: This ones means a lot, for Interstate Batteries; and Norm Miller and the guys out of Dallas, they have been with us from day one, this is special for them. That's a big deal and a testament to Steve and Kyle and the team we have there and the fact that they are able to capitalize on opportunities.

We had three good cars here, but Steve and those guys did a good job of just capitalizing and getting that victory, so that's a blessing.

Q. Congratulations on tonight, and an exceptional season. Jeff Gordon last year when he was winning all the races at the start of the year said: "Man, I hope I don't use all my luck up in the first half of the year." And you seem to have had all of the luck that your two teammates on your team haven't had. Do you worry at all when it gets to be Chase time that that you will have used up all that good fortune?

KYLE BUSCH: Well, I hope not. I've had some good times in the past couple years, but nothing that's ever been as lucky as this. And even felt like we had a lot of bad luck when I was in that 5 car, but you know, this year, or the past couple years, the 18 car has not been so great with luck, and the 11 and the 20 seem to have it.

So fortunately it's kind of turned a little bit and unfortunately for those guys, fortunately for this team, but still a big part of Joe Gibbs Racing and that's what matters most is to be able to get these three cars running well. Tony had a good car, and sorry that he had to get out for feeling ill; and Denny had a pretty good car and pretty fast car, too, and he got back in traffic and got mixed up in some of those melees. We were able to stay clear. And, yeah, that was pretty lucky and getting the right breaks when they mattered most. Hopefully we don't wear it out.

But you just never know had this deal with turn. So you try to there's no rabbit's foot or four leaf clover or any of that stuff that I have stashed in my pockets anywhere; but if there was some that I knew would bring luck, I would keep it.

Q. Jeff said he was kicking himself for letting you get to the bottom when you took the lead before all the melee at the end; can you talk that stage of the race and the mood and how you saw it?

KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, the Roush cars behind us were really strong when they got tied up together they were really working well as teammates. I think it was the 17 there who had a great run on the outside. And I went up to block it down the front stretch and pulled back down into turn one and two, and because he got to my quarterpanel, and Jeff and I were down the bottom going down the back stretch; and Jeff pulled up to block the 17 and he did, but then he couldn't come back down soon enough. Just can't maneuver these cars as well as you could the old car. He couldn't turn from the top lane down to the bottom lane in time to block my run, so he was stuck where he was at.

Then the caution came out when I got my nose it front of him or got my car in front of him, I don't remember how soon it was, but we got the break there where we got the lead for the caution and we were able to lead that restart.

Q. It looks like you had a little fun with the crowd afterwards on the theatrics. What do you think about the boos?

KYLE BUSCH: Don't matter. We're here to win races and as long as we're winning races we're doing our job. There's a lot of Dale Junior fans out there tonight that I'm sure don't like to see me wins, and there are a lot of Kyle Busch fans that do like to see me win. There were a few on the back stretch, gave them a good burnout; and came around to the front stretch and got my checkered flag which I like to collect and that was nice.

There's a lot of fans making a lot of noise, so as long as they are making noise you know you're doing something right.

Q. Can you talk about the decision to put Yeley in the car, was he your first choice, and can you give us kind of an update on Tony?

J.D. GIBBS: Yeah, I think for us, J.J., look, he's driven our stuff for a long time and we think a lot of J.J., and he was the guy we wanted in that car if something happened. Tony started the race and got IV and felt pretty good with fluids, and once the race started going he realized he wasn't going to be able to finish.

Our guys did a great job of being prepared and getting Tony out and J.J. in, even with a speedway with as much time as you have. Tony really wasn't feeling good all day today and I think he's feeling a little better now, but I think it's just going to take a little time and he'll be fine.

Q. This has to be one of the wildest races here in a long time, and yet you seem pretty darned calm and collected. Is it something you're getting used to or maybe it was your heart still beating that you're just not showing it?

KYLE BUSCH: No. It was pretty crazy, that for sure. In the beginning part of the race, our cars were skating around a lot; not as much at the end, but still skating around a little bit. And trying to get the handling right and had our mishap and had to go back through traffic, drove through traffic pretty well and kept a calm cool head. And tried to get up as far as I could and I knew there was a pit stop left to and we had to adjust the tires, and you just had to keep a cool head tonight.

And fortunately, having a good car, that helps. And then of course, being able to have some good helpers out there. Matt Kenseth, I've really got to thank him for there at the end of the race. If it wasn't for him getting behind me there and pushing me; and my brother got behind Carl there, and I knew the 17 was better than what the 2 was. So I had better help than the 99, but still, the 17 was strong and helped us.

Q. Kyle, can you explain what happened when your steering went on lap 82?

KYLE BUSCH: It wasn't really the steering that went. When I got hit from Denny, and I pulled out of line to try to pass, the air pinned the nose and it just got me squirrely down the straightaway. And there was really no rear grip in the rear tires while I was going straight for whatever reason.
So just had to slow it down and get it straight and road the apron there. Then I think when I rode the apron, Steve mentioned it, that I must have peeled the tires pretty bad because they were so hot that when I got going for the next couple laps, it just felt like the steering wheel had a lot of play in it; but I think the tires were just so hot that they weren't reacting, they were just sliding on the surface of the racetrack.

So just had to let them cool down a little bit and get everything back together can get back going.

Q. So many people were making so many crazy moves there in the last ten or 20 laps, did you anticipate that there was almost no way that those last two laps were going to finish?

KYLE BUSCH: No, I was just glad I was up front to be honest with you, first off. But you know with everything that was going on back there, I kept seeing stuff going on in my mirror. And one time down the back stretch I read the door numbers on the 88 car, and when I did he must have had a good save there, too.

You try to stay up front and keep everybody else behind you but even running up front like that, you can have a guy that gets into your rear bumper and gets your straightaway, not meaning to, just an overdraft bump; a lot of crazy things going on and these cars don't drive as good as the cars did before. And close quarters turns into no quarter racing, and we're in each other's quarters turning backwards and sideways, and it's hard to hang on them when we get into each other. Sometimes it's even harder to save with this thing than it was with the other one because there's just so much top weight and we're kind of rolling back and forth a little bit on the tires.

Q. Especially after what happened last year and how close it was at the finish was last year for you, how gratifying was it to win this race, and how anxious were you during that time where you weren't sure?

KYLE BUSCH: Well, it was close, I knew that, but when I did see the yellow light come on, I could barely see the nose on the 99 car up my right front fender. So I was hoping that we were the winners and, you know, it ended up being that way.

But I know how Carl feels, that's for sure. I was just trying to figure out everything that I was going to will on that last lap coming back to the front straightaway because I remember what happened last year and how I lost it there and was just going to plan on what I needed to do in order to get that 18 car to the stripe first. A lot of that thought was going on, actually, before that caution came out.

And then once that caution did come out and I saw I was leading I was just like, whew, I think we won but we weren't sure. Carl and I were running side by side for another lap just not knowing.

Q. For Kyle and Steve, you guys fell a lap down at Talladega and came back and won; and today you went to the back, drove back and won. Can you just talk about the resolve of this team and that you don't quit and that you're able to sort of drive right back to the front and win?

STEVE ADDINGTON: That's him, and that's just great people at our race shop at Job Gibbs Racing from our engineering to our engine shop to the fab shop, they build us great race cars and give us great information to use. Mark's the best, in the engine department and we put a lot of faith in him. It was up to Kyle and Jeff to get it back through the pack there without getting caught up in any wrecks, and they did that and it was pretty cool.

It's really special to do it for Norm Miller and all of the guys at Interstate Batteries.

KYLE BUSCH: Echo Steve's statements there. The first thing is it's me that has to stay a little bit calm and just try to get back into the rhythm of what was going on and try to figure out what was happening so it doesn't happen again. There were some moves I could have made probably later in race again that were pretty evasive that would have looked evasive but I just stayed in line because I knew if I would have tried something else again, I probably would have wrecked.

So I just made sure that I drove a smart race and finished it out and whatever came to us was going to come to us tonight. I figured actually I was probably going to finish second to the 24, but when stuff started happening behind us you've always got to be ready for that and always be ready for your next move.

Q. You said the boos don't really matter, but you seem to be having some fun with them; are you actually starting to like the role as villain?

KYLE BUSCH: I mean, you'd rather be known as a good guy and be liked by everybody, which is hard for me to do.

So I just role along with it and do what I can. I mean, have fun with it I guess, but you know, to me, I'm just kind of like: "What? Why?" That's about it.

Q. When you get into a situation and you're leading and you look up in your rear view mirror and Gordon's car goes flying sideways, and maybe you didn't even see it, how do you not start looking for the caution lights and think, well, okay, sure, this is going to end, and have to come all the way around and now you're racing off of four down to the one and you have no idea whether the car is still there. Was that any concern to you at all whatsoever?

KYLE BUSCH: I knew it was the green and white checkered, and yeah, I did see the 24 go around. And I was kind of waiting for the caution and the caution never came. I just kept my foot in it, and I was like, all right I guess we are going to be racing.

I think I remember the 42 dumping the 07 here in February and I think the 42 got posted for aggressive driving or something like that. You know, if the 99 had won the race, that was going to be a pretty crucial moment for NASCAR to try to decide on what they were going to do if they were going to make a penalty, but I doubt they were. I just kept my foot in it and tried to beat him and finish the race up front.

Q. Does it say something good about the Car of Tomorrow that you can go from 37th to first? And are you better at driving the Car of Tomorrow than the rest of the field?

KYLE BUSCH: I think if you've got a good restrictor plate car, then you've got a good restrictor plate car. The cars of the old, you know, a guy could have done that. It might have been a little bit harder to do, but I think still a guy could have done that.

And am I any better than driving this thing than anybody else? I don't think so. I'm not sure if it fits my style better. I don't know what my style is; don't really ask me that question.

But it's just to go out and drive the thing as hard as you can every single lap and try to get the most out of it. And when the car is not right, you tell your crew chief what's wrong with it and he tries to fix it, and fortunately we did that tonight. We made a good adjustment at the end that fixed the balance of the race car, but hurt the performance down the straightaway some. So we have to go back and look at that and figure out what we can do to balance that out better.

Q. How critical was it that NASCAR determined that you were in the lead before the restart with Gordon? How much did that change things being in front? And now with the six wins and 60 bonus points, you're 50 bonus points ahead of everybody except for two guys, what does that mean with only eight races left to collect bonus points for everybody else?

KYLE BUSCH: To beat Gordon out there to that caution, that changed the race a little bit for us, because Jeff, he's a good restart guy and can really hold a field tight on a restart in a restrictor plate race.

And so learning from those guys and past situations where I've been in, I did that same thing on the restart where I held everybody tight. And I actually might have hurt Jeff a little bit because when I went, you know, he went with me and then he didn't go as hard as I did. So I kind of backed up just a little bit too him, and I don't know if he backed up again and then the 99 got a run on him and then got to his inside and dumped him, whatever the situation was that happened there.

So, you know, it changed the complexion of it a little bit for me, but I just knew that I had to keep everybody tight on the restart and you know up to my rear bumper.

And the other question was?

Q. Bonus points.

KYLE BUSCH: Well, for the way that we ran at Loudon, we are not going to be too far ahead at Loudon after next time. We have some work to do and we have been talking about that, about what we can do to make our short track package better. It helps us out obviously and if we can keep it through the whole Chase, there will be some points where we give up some points to the other guys. We are not going to win them all, but it's definitely going to help us.

KERRY THARP: Congratulations to the No. 18 team. Appreciate it. Good luck next week.

An Interview With:


KERRY THARP: We'll roll into our post race press conference. We have with us our third place finisher in tonight's race, Matt Kenseth, driver of the 17 R&L Carrier's Ford. Your thoughts about tonight's race, certainly an exciting finish and probably could have gone either way. Your thoughts.

MATT KENSETH: Yeah, it was crazy. You know you never know what's going to happen with the green and white checkered pretty sure you had a place and there's going to be a wreck and you hope you're not in it basically.

Restart was really odd, kind of about 20 car lengths late and everybody was running into each other like crazy. Just I've never been hit so hard and hit people so hard before through a green. So that kind of got it sort of started and I guess Carl must have had a little run on Jeff and Jeff got spun out.

Down the back I was trying to push Carl because we had such a good restart, and Kurt was behind me pushing me like crazy, but he was trying to look different directions on Kyle and Kyle was blocking like crazy. He was so all over the straightaway I was fearing hitting him and spinning out. And Kyle went up to block him and I got sideways and I was going to wreck and had to get off the gas.

If Kyle could have got straight and we could have got a farther back run on Kyle, I think we both could have went by him and maybe raced for the win, but we just couldn't quite get that figured out exactly right.

Anyway, happy I finished third, best I ever finished at Daytona the guys made great adjustments and we were pretty competitive, so it feels good.

KERRY THARP: We have Carl Edwards, driver of the 99 AFLAC Ford, a second place showing, certainly an exciting finish, could have gone either way. Your thoughts.

CARL EDWARDS: Boy, I don't know exactly what the caution was for, was it a wreck in turn one? Man, I'd have given anything to be able to run at least down to the end of the back straightaway but that's the way it went and Kyle did a great job. They were real fast. It was a little nerve wracking there before they announced the winner, but I don't know what to tell you, second place is second place. Really wanted to win. Matt did a great job helping me. That was very cool.

Q. Elliot Sadler blew a tire during part of the race and said he criticized the tires by saying that good year didn't bring the same tires you guys tested here with. Did you find any kind of problems with the tires, any controversy around that?

MATT KENSETH: I didn't have any problem with tires coming part and I haven't tested here in five months, so I don't know if that means they brought back a different front tire test, I'm not really sure what that means or who did the tire test. I don't really have any idea.

Q. Kyle has won six times this year; your impressions of him as a driver, why is he so good?

MATT KENSETH: Well, I mean, I think he's the same driver he's been the last couple years. First of all I know you can only run as fast as your equipment will carry you. So he's got good he equipment. A lot of times you'll get together with somebody with good chemistry and figure it out better than maybe you can with somebody else, and obviously he's been able to hit it off with his team really good over there and obviously got good stuff. And he's just been pretty much on fire, so he's been having an exceptional year, that's for sure.

Q. When did you know for sure that you had finished second? There was a lot of confusion for a while.

CARL EDWARDS: I wasn't sure until we were going down the back straightaway. Jason told me and said: "The 18 to victory lane." I was pretty sure when we were running, though, because I saw the yellow light come on right as I was going by it and I was just getting a run up on his door. So I thought that I was probably second.

Q. Kyle has obviously had everything that could go right for him, has gone right, and the right place at the right time and he's on a good team and solid car, but are you guys encouraged that when you get to the Chase, you're competitive with him and you guys are in the mix to contend for a championship?

MATT KENSETH: I think that's a good one for Carl because I'm just barely on the edge. I don't know if I'm going to make it or not. We're pretty sure Carl is going to make it.

CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I feel great about how competitive we are. If we had not blown up at Atlanta; and if pit strategy worked different at Sonoma; and if we had gone another 200 yards here tonight, we might have a lot more wins, and that's just how racing goes.

You know, Kyle's got the trophies and I've got all the respect in the world for him, but once the Chase starts, everybody kind of gets to almost start over again. He's getting a little bit of a head start with all of these wins on the bonus points, but I feel very good about our team, all of them, we have the potential to be very good in the Chase.

Q. You have not fared as well in the 500; what's different about this race and why are you having more success in this one?

MATT KENSETH: Well, I don't know, it's hard for me to remember back every race. We were running I think third or fourth, had a great car in the 500, way better car than what we had tonight, and got wrecked. Couldn't do anything about it beside somebody ran me in the wall, couldn't really do anything about that. I guess there's the last one I can remember.

So I don't know that it really matters what time of year it is or what race. I think it's just more circumstances than anything.

Q. First part of the race you were hanging in the back doing a Dale Jarrett impersonation towards the back of the field; was that intentional or something because of the car in?

CARL EDWARDS: That's a good question, at first I was thinking it was intentional and then I just couldn't go any faster. We really had some things that weren't right on our car. It was really hard to drive.

So I just kind of hung back there a little bit until we got it fixed and Bob did really a great job and we actually did some stuff with the front end and worked on some things. So it worked out. But I just didn't I couldn't drive like that for 400 miles the way the car was so I just figured I would hang around instead of wrecking everyone.

Q. You stayed out and came in after everybody else had pitted about 45 laps to go, was that part of that same, trying to work on the car or was there a fuel mileage gambit?

CARL EDWARDS: It was a fuel mileage thing. Bob thought we could make it to the caution or maybe without a caution. We stayed for one lap and thought we could gamble on fuel. That was cool of Bob to do. We are getting close to the Chase and we are comfortable with our position, so it was good to see Bob do some gambling. We usually play it very safe, and that's what we were doing there.

Q. What hurt most, not getting the win or the 20 point difference?

CARL EDWARDS: That's what hurt the most that's what hurt the most at Atlanta and that's what hurt the most tonight. You're so close, and then it gives especially with one guy like Kyle who is winning all those races, he's really setting himself up for a great start to the Chase.

You know, if he wins one or two more, he's almost got a freebie there if he blows an engine or has a bad race or something. They are doing it right, and that's going to be hard for the rest of us to those points, we are going to have to make up. That's just the way it is.

On the Jeff Gordon thing, he was coming down and he was doing the best he could I think to try to get in front of me and he was up against my fender. I thought that he would turn right at any moment, but that's all that happened there ask I don't think he knew I was inside of him. That's all. Just in case it comes up.

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