KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
What are you anticipating taking to the track for the first time in almost two years?
“Just really the biggest difference I feel like is the new car. The track is very similar – not much difference on that. It’s still California Speedway, but the biggest thing is the new car and how this thing drives. When it feels good and everything is right, it drives similar to the old car but there is a lot of different things on it that makes it different. The feel is going to be different, just finding all of what that is in a short 15-minute practice to get ready for qualifying is what is first and foremost here.”
Have the drivers been told anything more about Harrison Burton’s flip in Daytona?
“Just looking at it, watching some of the replay – the 24 (William Bryon) was spun to the left. I was spun to left. We were actually sliding faster MPH than what the 21 (Harrison Burton) was when the 21 got hit. That’s when it kind of raised it up a little and got him lifted and so I don’t know. When you’re playing ping pong balls at 180 mph, while sliding, I’m not sure you’re going to be able to keep them on the ground. It’s fact of the matter, but the cars that did slide, it seemed as though they were just fine, I wouldn’t say there is an issue.”
Do you have your thoughts on what you expect with this new package?
“That’s definitely the number one priority – trying to be the fastest guy, trying to learn it the quickest, but also expectations – what do you expect? I think it’s going to be more similar to the 2018 cars when we were here with the smaller rear spoilers and the lesser downforce where you are going to be slipping and sliding a little bit. It’s not going to be locked down – great grip, almost wide open the last two times we ran here in 2019 and 2020 with the big, high downforce package and 550 horsepower package. Trying to just feel it out and see what it’s like. I think you are going to see a greater separation of the haves versus the have-nots just because who has this car figured out and who doesn’t yet. I think you will see some guys that really, really hit on it and they are going to be super-fast and some others where either their sim tools didn’t figure it out or they didn’t have sim tools to figure it out and they are going to be lost.”
What do you hope to get out of these 15-minute practice sessions?
“I don’t know really. You are just basically getting a gist of what your car is and an idea because even if you get 15-minutes of practice and you qualify terrible, you can’t take it to the garage and strip it apart and fix it. You’ve got what you’ve got. I think we are wasting a set of tires and gas with as short as it is and not being able to work on it. If we had the 15-minutes and then went straight into qualifying, great – no problem. I’m good with that, but if we all wanted to take it back to the garage and work on it overnight to fix our issues – me being able to talk to the crew chief (Ben Beshore), talk about what it is doing, not doing, what I need it to do better and all of that and then we sort of go through our simulation, go through ideas and concepts of what to do, what to try, what to better for the next day, you rebuild your car and you go to the tail of the field and you start the race where you start the race after rebuilding it overnight. That’s not the system we are in. That is not the sandbox that we are in. I’m in fantasyland.”
What are your thoughts on the potential track changes?
“This is a great drivers track. It’s very fun for us. It’s challenging. You are going really fast down the straightaways. You’re still going pretty fast through the turns, but you’ve got five lanes to work with – you’ve got bottom all the way to wall. Go back to 2013, I think was the last race in Michigan before they repaved that and then we came back in ’14 and Michigan has been terrible ever since. More banking at Michigan – it is different – but still a two-mile racetrack, but the racing has not been what this place has been able to produce. Being that it may go to a half-mile short track is completely different ballgame. We look at Atlanta – Atlanta went through a complete renovation, face-lift, all of that, and it’s going to be a superspeedway race. It’s going to be a completely different race than we’ve seen at Atlanta, but a half-mile here could be interesting, but they also have a great half-mile racetrack about 30-minutes from here too that I’ve seen some really good shows at, and we also put on a good show at the Coliseum, so I don’t know. It’s everybody’s interpretation and opinion really. Us drivers enjoy this place and like it the way it is. We liked Atlanta the way it was, but time for change – time for new. We all kind of learned. We saw that new can work with the Coliseum. I will 99% sell you that this place will get chopped up.”