KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 M&M’s Crunchy Cookie Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
You welcomed your daughter this week. Can you talk about what life has been like adjusting to two children?
“It’s been great. I’m just really thankful for all the blessings that we’ve had over the years – struggles and trying to get where we are today. It’s really meaningful to be able to welcome home our baby girl. Lennix is doing well. Mom (Samantha Busch) is adjusting and doing well, so working on that man-to-man coverage with children. I’m sure that’s going to change as she gets older but enjoying every moment of it thus far.”
Does having the child make you have a different mindset coming into this weekend?
“No, I would say that I feel as though there is a personal life and a racing life, personal life and career, however you want to segregate that. I try to separate those as much as I can. Being able to have that at the track sometimes blends over, but to me, I wouldn’t say having a baby girl makes all of the struggles of the last couple of years go away. We are in a performance-based business and being in a performance-based business means you need to perform and do well and you need to win races. That is still at the forefront.”
What remain the challenges with this car or are you to the point where you are fine tuning?
“I think we are all still learning it. I came here and did the wheel force test, and it went well. The temperature was nothing like it is today, and conditions are completely different. Just each week you try to learn and try to figure out some tricks of the trade or some little things that this car likes or doesn’t like. I felt like we had a decent package for what we had last week at Darlington, and I think what we have here will be pretty good based on how Vegas went and how the test went here.”
Do you think the track will run more like your win in 2016 or your win here last year?
“I would say it’s going to be a blend, but probably more similar to last year. In testing here, there was not a lot of off-throttle time. You are on the throttle a lot. You have a lot drag in these cars, so you are slow on the straightaways. The car has pretty good grip and you can make time being in the gas through the turns. As the track changes or widens out, I feel like the race is going to end up a lot at the top, but this car is really, really bad in directly following the car in front of year. You are going to need somewhere else to go if everyone is at the top. How are you going to pass? So, you are going to have to try something else to make moves on guys. We will see how that goes.”
You’ve had a love-hate relationship with this track. Do you think it will be more track or car you are fighting this week?
“I would say it’s been – you said love-hate, I would go more hate-love. It started out bad and has been good lately. We will hopefully keep that going in our favor. This place was trickier for me with the old asphalt, but since they repaved it, it seems to have come into more where I’m understanding of it. I feel like we’ve got a good shot at continuing that – that good run tradition – and doing well this weekend.”
If Lennix wants to pursue racing, does it matter what her gender is?
“To me it’s exactly what I said with Brexton, if she wants to, by all means, sure go for it, give it a try. I think her mom (Samantha Busch) would say otherwise. ‘Let’s not have another amount of years spent at the racetrack, raising another race car driver.’ That’s still to be determined with Brexton. I think Bobby Labonte’s kid was older when he decided he didn’t want to do it. Matt Martin was older when he decided he didn’t want to do it, so you just never know. We will see what happens.”
You announced this documentary this week. Why did you want to do it?
“I was approached by a group of guys who thought I had an intriguing story and that they wanted to put it out there on how I kind of came in and through the tough times of the 2007-2008 timeframe, 2011 timeframe to the injury of 2015 to winning a championship and winning a championship again in 2019. So, from the highs to the lows to the trials and tribulations, all of that sort of stuff. It’s an interesting piece. It kind of puts it all together. They say it’s long. I think it’s like 100, 110 minutes or something like that, so it’s a little long on the film front, but I don’t think it still tells the whole complete story. You need a lot longer than 110 minutes. I tried to talk them into a Netflix series, but that didn’t’ go anywhere, but I’m excited for it. It’s great. I appreciate it. I’m looking forward to everyone seeing it. I don’t think it’s anything that the avid NASCAR fan doesn’t know, but some causal fans might get a little bit of a better understanding on who I is.”
Do you think this car will put on a good show at Charlotte?
“I don’t know how to answer that question. It’s important that we put on good shows every single week and have great races, that’s a really hard one to have a really great race on and have side-by-side action and have close knit, tight knit racing the entire time, because let’s be honest, it’s a four-and-a-half to five-hour race. 600 miles is a long time. Anytime that you are putting yourself in a side-by-side predicament that’s taking a chance and until it comes down to that final pit stop is when the race really starts. There will be times where we are running around and trying to bide time and save ourselves and our equipment. Unless you want to call it the Coca-Cola 60, it’s going to be hard to sell a 600 as intriguing.”
With four mile-and-a-half races in the Playoffs, how important is getting it dialed in the next few weeks?
“I think we have talked about it as long I’ve been in the sport just with having five or six mile-and-a-half racetracks in the Playoffs through years. Charlotte moving into the ROVAL the last couple, you don’t have that one. It’s important but with our schedule in our sport and this car it’s more important to be more diverse anyways. You’ve got to be good everywhere.”