KYLE BUSCH, Owner/Driver, No. 18 Miccosukee Resort & Gaming Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
How did this ownership opportunity present itself?
"For this year, I've been working with my Late Model teams across the country and racing here or there and I felt like working with KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) and those guys, the next logical step for me to move up in my racing career and what I wanted to do, ownership-wise, was the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. For us this year, we're looking forward to being able to house two full-time truck teams in the Camping World Truck Series — myself in the Miccosukee Resorts Tundra and Tayler Malsam in the No.56 Talking Rain Tundra. I've got a lot of leadership that's come on this year with Rick Ren being ultimately one of the best guys in the sport to go after and try to bring in to our field of operations and make him director of competition and ultimately handle everything on the day-to-day basis so we can allow my busy schedule to stay as busy as it needs to be with the (NASCAR Sprint) Cup (Series) stuff. I'm really excited about the driver lineup. We have Tayler Malsam, a young 20-year-old driver who I feel like has got a lot of potential and a lot of drive, just like myself. We're also looking at Brian Ickler, who has been racing for my Late Model team, racing in the ARCA Series this past season and racing in the Truck Series last year as well. I feel like there's a lot of potential in Brian, in order to bring him along. And with the leadership of Rick, I feel like we can have all three of us be capable of winning races on a weekly basis."
What impact has Toyota had on your racing career and this ownership opportunity?
"Toyota has been an instrumental part of this program and what they've brought to us and what resources they brought us have been. For them to come on board and really stick behind Kyle Busch Motorsports and myself and Rick Ren (director of competition, Kyle Busch Motorsports) — to give us all the necessary tools to go out there and to perform at our next level — is really going to be great for us. Toyota has been an instrumental part of this sport — the Camping World Truck Series — with its Tundra brand and everything it has been able to accomplish over the past few seasons, winning the manufacturer's championships for a couple of years. Of course, having Johnny Benson — who is actually here today with us as well, too — winning the last Craftsman championship a couple years ago. If we can pull enough stuff together, we'd like to be able to bring Johnny Benson in and run a third full-time truck deal as well. I feel like if there's some sponsorship opportunities out there for people, we've got the space for it, we've got the people for it, we've got the trucks for it, that we could run a third deal."
What is it about ownership that you find intriguing enough to become so involved?
"I feel really blessed that my opportunities that I've had over the last few seasons in NASCAR, to now kind of give back a little bit. I have given back to the local short track ranks with the Late Model cars and have had some good partners on that side. And now, with the Camping World Truck Series program, I feel like it's really going to be beneficial to me to have Rick Ren (director of competition, Kyle Busch Motorsports) on board and to give back to such young drivers, like Brian Ickler, like Tayler Malsam and myself. It's a fun deal for me. I really enjoy racing in the Camping World Truck Series — one of my favorite divisions to race in. Of course, the focus is solely on the Cup stuff for myself and that's been an instrumental part of bringing Rick (Ren) in, so I can keep that focus over there on that side. The time has come. We talked about doing this stuff, actually, a year ago, and never really could get the right people in place. Never really could get the right opportunity, but it all fell together this year."
How supportive were Joe and J.D. Gibbs of you becoming a team owner?
"Joe (Gibbs, team owner, Joe Gibbs Racing) and J.D. (Gibbs, President, Joe Gibbs Racing) were very supportive in the whole act. I feel like they have really come to me and have taken me by the arm and helped lead me into this ownership role. Being able to have J.D. give me some of the Joe Gibbs Racing resources in order to help our team out as well. We're going to be able to utilize some of their pit crew, like their pit crew coaches to come coach our guys, we're going to utilize some of their in-shop stuff — chassis structure, builds, CNC machine work, transmissions, gears — stuff like that. Really, they've been instrumental in helping me and bringing us along so we can kind of take some of the expense of what it costs to operate and lower those and have the help of those guys. They've been really positive about the whole thing and I appreciate their support."
What are your goals for Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2010?
"I feel the realistic goals would be to have each truck win at least one race this year. I feel like Tayler's (Malsam) capable of it or I wouldn't have him in this position if I didn't feel that way. I feel like myself and Brian Icker are as well too, of course. When we go into this year, the goals for the year are to compete for the championship with the No. 56 truck, driver and owner championship with Tayler Malsam. That's the number one team, all the resources and everything we are going to devote towards Tayler and make sure that we can try to build him up to being championship caliber this year. The Miccosukee truck, we're actually going to work towards myself and Brian (Ickler) bringing home an owner's championship in that and being able to get Brian some more experience so hopefully for the 2011 season we can have Brian in a truck full time and have the funding that we need necessary in order to do that and keep Kyle Busch Motorsports Camping World Truck Series program going."
Will you change your driving style now that you're an owner?
"No, I will still tear off as many fenders as I need to get some wins. That's what it's about in this sport. We got people to fix and we have to keep job security going at the shop. No, realistically, for myself, I'm looking forward to the opportunity. This is a really deep undertaking in order to do this and to start two, let alone just one, truck teams for next year. To have the resources of Toyota and all the fine folks like Lee White (Toyota Racing Development president and general manager) and Laerte (Zatta, Toyota Racing Development program manager, NASCAR Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series) and all the guys that work so hard at Toyota to help us out. To have Triad (Racing Technologies) engines coming on board with us next year to help us fulfill that void in the program. It's really going to be a neat deal. I gotta thank James Finch and Miccosukee. And, of course Tayler (Malsam) and Brian (Ickler) for coming on board and believing in the program and taking full faith in what we've got going on and what we're trying to build here with Kyle Busch Motorsports. Ultimately, the biggest amount respect I have for anyone here is got to go to Rick Ren (KBM Director of Competition) because he took a big leap of faith to take a team that started from nothing and to build it into something. We may have assets from Xpress Motorsports and stuff like that, but we have got to turn all those into our own at KyleBusch Motorsports and make those successful."
BRIAN ICKLER, No. 18 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Will you feel pressure to get to victory lane racing in Kyle Busch's truck when he's not in the truck?
"Absolutely. I did it all year last year. He'd (Kyle Busch) win three in a row and I'd have to get in there and have pretty big shoes to fill. It's nothing new. Kyle (Busch) expects a lot. He's really hard on himself and I'm hard on myself. Rick (Ren, director of competition, Kyle Busch Motorsports) and I are just starting to get to know each other. He just told me that he's personally going to be down on himself if we're not running good. That's what I want to hear. Kyle is the same way. He's a racer at heart and I think everybody behind this program with Kyle, Rick being on board, Tayler (Malsam), Toyota — all we want to do is win. That's our number one goal and we'll do the best we can."
TAYLER MALSAM, No. 56 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
What will it be like to work with an owner like Kyle Busch?
"I think it's going to be good. We have a lot of the same characteristics on the race track and I think he (Kyle Busch) can teach me a lot about where to run and where to run here and there. Mike (Skinner) did a great job, but me and Kyle are closer together in age and it will help us with that relationship. I'm always about winning and I'm going to do whatever it takes to win and that's how Kyle is too. It's going to be a lot of fun. I can't wait to get the season started."
RICK REN, Director of Competition, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Why did you make the move to Kyle Busch Motorsports?
"It was a combination of things. I've been traveling a lot the last few years and this move back to a race facility in Mooresville, North Carolina is closer to home. I can spend a little more time at home. Then you've got to look at the opportunity that's here. People can work their whole career in different businesses all across the country and to have an opportunity at any time to make a move like this is just something you didn't want to turn down. I think Kyle (Busch), for a young man, has a lot on his plate. A lot of opportunities.
He's phenomenal at what he does. And for me to get to work with him and his company on a day-to-day basis is a pretty good
opportunity and I'm glad to be a part of it."
Will you miss being a crew chief in the Camping World Truck Series?
"I've had an accomplished career and I'm good with that. I've had a couple of championships and wins and it's all good. This
opportunity to get to work with Kyle (Busch) and these young drivers is a challenge, a breath of fresh air, you might say for these
young guys. If we can get Johnny (Benson) onboard — Johnny and I have a great rapport with each other and have a great track
record together — that would come together very quick. So it's very exciting for me to be put in this position to try to help with the
young man that's the owner and to try to help the two young men that want to have a career in racing. Hopefully we can get Johnny
(Benson) and I — us older guys — back to victory lane. It's also great to be back with Toyota. I worked with Toyota in the past.
Johnny (Benson) and I had success there. They have a lot of resources. They're behind this whole package all the way and it's just
great to have the endorsement, like Kyle (Busch) said, from the Gibbs family. So, am I going to miss calling the races day-to-day?
You will for a while, but when you step back and see what you're trying to accomplish for a young man who's making a big step into
the ownership role, that's gratifying enough." (press release)