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THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by Kyle Larson, the fifth-place finisher tonight.
Q. It seemed like throughout the night you were trying to battle very hard to get to that top 5, so how gratifying is it to leave LA getting that accomplished?
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, no, it feels good to get to fifth. I didn't really work my way forward to fifth, it was kind of a battle of attrition.
I was just kind of stuck, which I'm sure a lot of people felt stuck and always wanted to choose the outside on the restarts, but everybody in the middle of the pack figured out that the outside was better at the same time.
Then it just never worked out where I could choose the outside lane and just kind of got stuck in 10th for a while, and yeah, kind of just got slammed from behind forward. Never really passed but one or two cars and came from 14th to fifth.
Q. Last year when the race was in the daytime, obviously this year it was at night, do you feel like as a result of the conditions changing, it brought the intensity level, or is there something else to that intensity?
KYLE LARSON: Was it more intense? I don't know.
Q. Let me clarify. Compared to the conditions, was it more treacherous because it was night or not necessarily?
KYLE LARSON: I don't think it really made a difference. The track surface felt a little grippier than I thought it would be at nighttime. I don't know, there was just a lot more slamming around this time, and I think -- I was telling my PR people on the way down, last year was the first race for this car and we didn't know how tough they were at the time. There was not as much slamming. I think people didn't quite know how strong the noses and rear bumpers were.
This year it was just like everybody just ran through the person in front of them. If you got a hole to get down, somewhere to get down, then the three or four cars behind would just shove them through the two in front of them. A lot of accordion, and just difficult on the restarts, especially where I was, middle of the pack.
Q. Some of that slamming you were talking about, some of the other guys have said that the hits still feel the same as they did last year. I don't know what your thoughts are on any hits you took tonight.
KYLE LARSON: Yeah, definitely. I didn't really -- I only had like one moment last year that I remember where it was like, wow, like that was a hard hit.
I think we stacked up on a restart at like Sonoma or something, and this was like every restart you would check up with the guy in front of you and just get clobbered from behind and your head whipping around and slamming off the back of the seat.
I don't have a headache, but I could see how if others do, it's no surprise because it was very violent for the majority of the race. We had so many restarts, and like I said, every restart you're getting just clobbered and then you're clobbering the guy in front of you. You feel it a lot.
Q. I know you were critical of the wall riding when that happened, but what was going on out there tonight, is that racing? Are you critical of that at all, or do you think that's good short track racing?
KYLE LARSON: I don't know. I mean, just a product of this track and this car. I don't think you would see that style of racing with the previous generation car just because they wouldn't be as strong. You'd knock the radiators out racing like that.
I think the cars are just so stiff that that's just kind of how it goes. Not saying it's right, but the cars are built that way. Yeah, I don't really know how to answer it other than that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Kyle. Appreciate the time.
Q. How did you avoid the chaos and the carnage?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I think there was a couple good restarts from the outside the beginning of the second half of the race when we had a restart every half a lap. That helped us. I think we went from eighth to second there pretty quickly. Obviously that was a big gain for us, and then just kind of got put back a little bit. I had one bad restart from the outside of the front row, and that hurt our finishing position.
But yeah, really good race car, and those couple restarts kind of got us out of the mess.
Q. Following up, how was the first race with Blake?
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, I think it went pretty well. We struggled here last year; didn't have a good weekend. I was nervous a little bit and didn't know what to expect.
Yesterday went really well; today went pretty well.
Definitely when you come out of here with a fourth, kind of bummed about it. It's a good weekend. Yeah, I think the whole team is working really well together, and Blake is fitting in really, really well.
Q. What did you think of this year's event versus compared to last year in terms of the overall scope of it?
ALEX BOWMAN: It's pretty cool to be in it this year instead of on the way to the airport.
Yeah, I mean, I think it's a great event. It's a great atmosphere. It's tough when it takes 45 minutes to make like six laps or whatever that was. That was pretty bad when we were just crashing and crashing and crashing.
But I feel like last year's feature was a little bit cleaner than this year's for whatever reason, but yeah, I think it's a great event, and cool to be part of it.
Q. What was the reason for the rash of cautions in your opinion? Last year was cleaner but this year there was an abundance of yellows.
ALEX BOWMAN: Yeah, fortunately we were in front of it, so I don't know. Guys running over each other is probably the answer you're looking for, though. I just don't know who to tell you.
Q. At what point does it become obvious that everybody is just going to run into each other for the entire night? How early in the race does that become obvious to you?
ALEX BOWMAN: When they build a racetrack in a football field. That's what we're here to do. We're here to put on a show and be exciting. Maybe it got a little out of hand at times there with how rough it got, but yeah, we all knew when we heard about this event, whenever it was the first time that we were going to come here, people were going to run over each other. It's too easy.
It's funny, I don't know if guys are just okay with it, or if that carries over to the rest of the season or people forget about it or if that's situational. But yeah, I tried to race super clean. I don't feel like we used anybody up. Really nobody used us up.
Glad I don't have -- I don't feel like I'm on anybody's list, and I don't have a list leaving here.
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by the second and third-place finishers of today's Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum, and that is Austin Dillon and Kyle Busch.
If you have any questions for either of these gentlemen, please raise your hand.
Q. Two years in a row you've been up here second- and third-place finishers. This year you swapped. Why is it you guys are doing so well at this track? Kyle, you've talked about stacking momentum all weekend.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, I don't necessarily know what it is, but sometimes drivers will take to places. But this place here being a short track, me growing up short track racing with some of the late models and stuff that I have done, I've been to a lot of places like this. Been Legends cars as well too over the years.
But I'm sure many of those guys out there have, as well, whether it's been dirt, whether it's been pavement. I don't know, yeah. Having good stuff obviously helps. Last year being in the JGR stuff we were really fast. Our teammates were terrible this year; now our teammates are good, or the JGR cars were good and we got beat by one of them, but Austin and I worked hard together today on, A, working together, but, B, all the information to put ourselves in the best possible spot.
Good collaboration between the RCR bunch.
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, I'll just echo what Kyle said. It was really fun. Our car was really good. It really kind of turned on that last practice. We figured out that our car was pretty good on the long run. We were able to qualify decent, which is good for us. Not a great qualifier usually at the short tracks.
Felt like if we could just maintain we could have a shot. Kyle helped me there at the end. He knew we had a fast car, so let me try and got a shot at Martin. That was nice, so hopefully I can pay back the favor we go to Daytona and work together well. It's a great start for all of us.
As far as the track question and being up here, I'll give a shout-out to all my Bowman Gray boys back in Winston-Salem North Carolina. I grew up going there and watching that place, and this is about as close as it gets to Bowman Gray Stadium.
Q. How did you get back up through the field when you were totally spun out and in the back?
KYLE BUSCH: I passed them.
Q. Not everybody could do that.
KYLE BUSCH: I don't know. I mean, I felt like in the first 50 laps of the race we had probably a third-place car, and then we kind of tapered off after the long run there a little bit in the first half and we worked on the car.
We made it better in the second half but never had an opportunity to show it, getting dumped by the 22. Then we had to turn around and just try to work through traffic. A lot of guys were getting bottled up on the bottom. I'd go high, go around a few of them, then they would start blocking high because they would see that, so I would cross over and get underneath them and move them back up the track in order where I wanted to run where my car was best.
So, yeah, some of the guys in front of me, some cautions. Obviously, there were some more there towards the end, guys spinning. A lot of guys, more contact as the end of the race happened. Not just one would wash out. Like two or three would get washed out, so you could pick off a couple at a time.
Q. In a race like this where the whole field is getting physical, everybody is bumping everybody, is there different standards of what would make somebody super mad or carry over a feud to the next race? If everybody is doing it, is it more acceptable, or are people still going to have those same memories that they would if it was any other race?
AUSTIN DILLON: I mean, I think everybody knows here that there's going to be contact. The first 30 laps my head was against the head rest probably every lap. It was just bang, bang, back and forth, every corner. I couldn't believe how aggressive it was the first run. There was nothing but just hammer each other and hope to come out the other side.
I got hit one time at the end, I was telling Kyle, when we got back in line, it knocked the wheel out of my hands. I couldn't believe it. Just kind of picked up the gas and caught it back.
But you're taking some pretty good blows out there and trying to stay calm. I think Martin got mad at me one time, and it was the 24 driving through me. The hard part is knowing if it's the guy behind you or if it's the guy two behind you or even three.
You've got to have a short memory about it. Obviously Bubba knocked me through the corner. I was going to hit him back. Didn't mean to turn him like that, but when it gets down to the end I think everybody knows what's going on, and that's what you see at places like this and Bowman Gray Stadium.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, Logano didn't get hit by nobody. He just flat-out drove through me, so he's got another one coming. I owe him a few.
Q. For both of you, last year this race was widely praised and it seemed like it was an overall success. This year do you feel the same level of happiness or excitement coming out of here as last year or different thoughts?
KYLE BUSCH: I mean, last year's show I felt like was relatively clean and good racing, some bumping, some banging, but we could run long stretches of green flag action, where today was I would call it a disaster with the disrespect from everybody of just driving through each other and not just letting everything kind of work its way out.
But it's a quarter mile. It's tight-quarters racing. Actually this is probably how it should have gone last year, so we got spoiled with a good show the first year. Maybe this was just normal.
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, and everybody has gotten a little better since last year, so the parity was close. There were a lot of fast guys. The little bit, if you are faster than someone, you kind of have to bump them, because they can kind of check up on the exit of the corner and stop you.
If you get that run and you're there, you kind of have to use it or be used.
Q. Would you guys like to see it come back here for year three?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't care. I'll be here wherever we've got to go.
AUSTIN DILLON: I think we both would like to be in the 1 position. That's what I've learned from Kyle in a short period of time. We've got to win, so that's the main goal.
KYLE BUSCH: We were damn close to starting it off right out of the gate, so next week.
Q. Along those lines, the expectation you guys have for going forward, can you gauge what it could be like from this race and how you guys are going to work together as teammates, because kind of the storyline tonight would be you guys running second and third.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, it could definitely be a story of that where we've been working well together this whole weekend off the track, on the track, and having the opportunity of being able to take care of one another on a couple of those restarts.
You know, the 3 would be easy off the corner and give me a gap to be able to get down and some other stuff that we did, too.
Yeah, I mean, that's just a good omen for great teamwork and good sportsmanship from the two of us, so let's keep that rolling.
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, I agree. I think the other good part is some of the things that we like in a race car -- what I was excited about, because I've watched Kyle's data over the years, and the way he approaches the setup of a car and things I think we're actually pretty close. Like our delta would be close.
So that's nice to be able to hopefully work off of that, and we're only going to be able to build off that as we go and find those places that when we have a good run, where do I need to be setup-wise compared to him to echo that.
Q. Kyle, this was your first race having Richard Childress in your ear when an incident happens. He's not the owner that's going to talk you down. He's just as fired up as you are probably. What was that like inside the car?
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah. I mean, it's good. It's cool. You know, Rick would get on the radio just a little tiny bit when I was at Hendrick, and then Joe, he never got on the radio. I think they disconnected his button. A long time ago they did that.
But yeah, Richard, I know he's prone to key up a little bit here now and again. That was fine. He come on the radio and he goes, he just flat out drove through you, and I'm like, well, what do you want me to do about it?
Trust me, I started behind him a couple times on restarts and never really got a great chance. I probably could have, but it was more important to go forward than retaliate. I don't think there's a lot of others that thought that way. Look at where they finished.
Q. Austin, did you and Bubba get a chance to talk before you came in here?
AUSTIN DILLON: No, uh-uh. I'm sure we will. I hate it for him because he was really good. We were a little better on the long run and I got by him pretty clean the first time, and I chose to restart there behind Martin thinking that if we could get off 2 and then I could just race, but it just doesn't go that way.
You're just getting beat and beat, and then when we went through 1 and 2, I mean, I got crossed up. I thought I was going to wreck into the inside wall and I got hit, and my spotter told me, release the brake, release the brake, got shoved all the way to the third lane outside.
So after that he said, three wide, I think, one time, two wide, and then, I mean, yeah, I was probably pretty frustrated at that point.
Q. Bubba got hit in the back of the car early in the race and he complained over his radio. He said, hey, NASCAR, it still hurts, with some expletives. I'm wondering if you guys took any hits in the back and what it felt like, if it felt any better, worse, different, anything?
KYLE BUSCH: I mean, truthfully, it didn't really feel much different at that speed and just the bumper car action that you get through the middle of the corner. Yeah, like Austin said, when you get hit a few times, your head is getting jacked into the back of the head rest and you're getting the whiplash effect. But what the damage to the cars looks like front and rear, underneath, you have no idea, but it's still a brunt of a hit.
But if we had the old cars that we used to have, nobody would have a radiator left. I think half the field would be parked in the infield. Might not be a bad thought, but get some of those squirrels out of there, but yeah, it's a necessary evil to the fronts, for as hard of a shots as some of the guys were taking, Bubba's bumper, you could see the damage that he had to it, so he might have been one of the ones that got hit the hardest.
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, it still doesn't feel good. I think the positive part is NASCAR has showed us things that they're trying to do to help that area of the car, for the low speed impacts, the lower speed impacts. We're making progress. That's the biggest thing.
Q. I just want to clarify, so you feel like there were so many more cautions tonight because the field was so much more even and the only way to pass someone was to move somebody out of the way? That's the primary reason?
AUSTIN DILLON: I would say yeah. Everybody has learned a lot from last year. There was quite a bit of bad cars last year.
KYLE BUSCH: And I'd be one of them.
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, the 19 is a great example, last to first. When the field is that tight and you have a little bit of advantage, the only way to do something is to kind of -- you can try and cross them up, but then they can pinch you down the straightaway here, and then you'll lose whatever run you had.
THE MODERATOR: Austin, Kyle, congratulations on your medals. Great run. Appreciate your time.
Q. It was a strong night for RCR, second and third place Austin Dillon and Kyle Busch. Austin, you got there, just couldn't quite get it done at the end of the race. We also saw some contact with Bubba Wallace. Things got wild at the end.
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, it did. I hate it for Bubba; he had a good car and a good run. But you can't tell who's either pushing him or getting pushed. I just know he sent me through the corner and I saved it three times through there, released the brake and all kinds of stuff, and then when I got down, I was going to give the same. Probably was a little too hard.
But yep, the Bioethanol Chevy was pretty good. My teammate let me try and go get Truex at the end. That was nice, and yeah, it's been fun. Hopefully we can do this more often.
Q. First race for Kyle Busch with your new race team; same Kyle Busch, up front. You went all the way back. Still don't know how you got back to the front at the end of this.
KYLE BUSCH: Yeah, it was a battle all night long, but you can't count us out. You always got to bet on us with the BetMGM Camaro.
We used the outside on a lot of passes. Everybody would get bottled up on the bottom and start bumper tagging, and I would just go around them outside. When? You're deep in the field you can kind of do some of that and work your way around.
But overall, good to get back up to third. Could have gotten second, but like Austin said, I let him go there. He was better than us in practice and was better than us in the beginning of the race there on the long run, so I thought he could have a shot of trying to get closer to the 19, and I'll push him through the 19 in order for us to get the one-two, but never made it there.
Q. Martin Truex Jr. has done a lot of things in his career, but winning the Clash is one that you never accomplished until now. What a mess it was for you guys here last year, but what was the difference tonight? You guys were good from the time you unloaded.
MARTIN TRUEX JR: Yeah, just a really good race car, but the guys did a great job with this Bass Pro Shops CLUB Toyota Camry, Tracker Boats, Reser Fine Foods, Auto-Owners, True Timber, Rocks, Cessna, just all of our partners that let us do this.
Last year was a pretty rough season for us with no wins, and to come out here and kick it off this way, really proud of all these guys. Tonight was kind of persevere, not give up, just battle through and we found ourself in the right spot at the end.
Sometimes they work out your way and sometimes they don't. Tonight it went our way, and we made some good adjustments, too.
A loose condition entering Turn One while running in second place with eight laps to go in the first of two 50-lap Last Chance races cost Harrison Burton and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team a starting berth in the main event of Sunday night’s Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Burton and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team entered Sunday’s races with hopes of once again racing their way into the 150-lap main event. On Saturday, Burton qualified 13th, earning the fourth starting spot in the first of four 25-lap qualifying races.
But two laps into that race, Burton was spun around, bringing out the caution flag. Restarting in ninth place, he worked his way to seventh, giving him the third starting spot in the first 50-lap Last Chance race.
He spent most of that event running in second place, only to lose that spot in the closing laps and wind up one finishing position shy of a transfer spot.
Burton and the No. 21 team now turn their attention to preparing their Mustang for the season-opening point-paying race – the Daytona 500 on Feb. 19.
NASCAR champion Kevin Harvick joins the FOX NASCAR broadcast booth full-time to call NASCAR Cup Series races following retirement, beginning with the 2024 season, announced today by Brad Zager, President, Production & Operations/Executive Producer, FOX Sports. Harvick will partner with FOX Sports play-by-play announcer Mike Joy and former NASCAR teammate and analyst Clint Bowyer beginning with the 2024 season opener.
“I’m really looking forward to working with the FOX NASCAR team full-time,” Harvick said. “I’ve enjoyed the experience in the booth the last several years because it has given me valuable insight into what being in the booth is all about. Getting the chance to step into the booth with Mike and Clint in 2024 is an honor and a great way to stay connected to the sport and NASCAR fans.”
Harvick will get a jumpstart on the FOX Sports booth in 2023, resuming his guest driver analyst duties for four NASCAR Xfinity Series and three NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races, in addition to multiple NASCAR RACE HUB analyst appearances.
His scheduled NASCAR Xfinity Series analysis slate includes Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Phoenix Raceway, Richmond Raceway and the resumption of his role as play-by-play announcer in the FS1 “Drivers Only” race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Harvick’s 2023 Truck Series television repertoire features Circuit of the Americas, Kansas Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway.
“I can’t overstate how thrilled we are for Kevin to be an official member of the FOX Sports family,” Zager said. “This is a marriage eight years in the making -- since he first stepped into our NASCAR Xfinity Series booth with more presence and poise than most newcomers dream of. It has been fun to watch Kevin learn the TV ropes, and we cannot wait to hear him, Mike (Joy) and Clint (Bowyer) call their first race together.”
Beginning with the 2015 season, Harvick has served as a FOX NASCAR guest driver analyst alongside play-by-play announcer Adam Alexander for more than 25 NASCAR Xfinity Series races, in addition to three Truck Series races.
Ford Performance PR
BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 6 King’s Hawaiian Ford Mustang – “We’re better than we were here last year, but not enough better to make the difference. This track has gotten slick, but we’ll go swing at them next week.”
DOES IT MEAN ANYTHING FOR SHORT TRACKS THE REST OF THE YEAR? “There’s no other track like this and we were really good at Phoenix. We’re excited to see what we can do there. Of course, Daytona was really good for us last year, but we have to figure something out for this track, clearly, and we’ll just keep working on it.”
WHERE DID YOU IMPROVE FROM A YEAR AGO? “We are getting a better understanding of the car, but just not better enough of what it needs on the vehicle dynamics side. We’re still working through that. We’ve got some new hires and new things going on that started last week and we’ll see if we can get better,”
WHAT WAS YOUR TAKE ON THE INCIDENT WITH DANIEL IN THE HEAT RACE? “It’s just bumper cars – guys that are desperate.”
COULD THE OTHER GUYS JUST GET BACK TO THE GAS EARLIER? “We just never could get the corner. We were just really loose in with both of our cars and just couldn’t turn the wheel.”
CHRIS BUESCHER, No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang – “It’s definitely a bummer again. We fought hard and thought we had made some improvements. I think we did, but ultimately it didn’t yield a much different result here. We had some really good short track runs last year, obviously Bristol and Richmond and a couple of others, and then there were a handful that didn’t go real good, I’m thinking like Loudon, so maybe it’s one of those deals where we’ve got to dissect what’s similar and what’s plaguing us at times like these or races like this and get back on track. It’s definitely not the way you want to start the year, but we’ll be ready for Daytona.”
THIS IS AN OUTLIER AS FAR AS TRACKS GO, SO DO YOU SPEND A LOT OF TIME WORRYING ABOUT IT? “We’re racers, though, so it hurts your feelings. You want to be better than that and we just weren’t. It’s not much like other places we go and it’s kind of like bumper cars out there in a lot of ways, but it’s still a race and we need to be more competitive.”
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