KYLE BUSCH, No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
“Hold on, first I have an announcement to make. Everybody ready? Ok, there is no announcement. Good? We all good, we clear? Moving on.”
How was your experience to be part of this new NASCAR documentary and what do you hope is the result of the piece coming out?
“Yeah, I mean, to me, I feel like it's just another level of humanizing us. Athletes, drivers, families, things like that of what we do outside the sport. Obviously, there's a lot to be filmed and a lot of things that go on behind the scenes and the things that aren't on broadcast television each and every week. And so, to kind of showcase a little bit of that, obviously, there's a storyline, a huge development of lives and situations that are outside of just the broadcast. And so I feel like they're trying to do the best they can and showcase some of that and get some of those storylines out there. You know, one with us is just our family life and racing and Brexton racing and that sort of stuff, where how hectic it kind of is and what we do, outside of just being here every Saturday and Sunday.”
At any point in contract negotiations, did Joe Gibbs Racing offer you a contract that you turned down?
“What did I just say? I said there was no update. This is not the place to start airing any dirty laundry. Just trust me, in time things will work out. And what happens, happens. Again, answering that question could either be positive for me or detrimental for me. So it's fair to say I cannot answer those sorts of questions in your apologize. Or I don't, not sure which.”
Is there any one thing you hope people take away about Kyle Busch from the documentary?
“Yeah, I mean, to me, I guess the humanizing the villian, let's say, okay, so I'd like to be known by a heck of a lot more than just what is on broadcast television each weekend or not on broadcast television, but to me, you know, I'm a husband, I'm a father, I'm a racer. And that's all I’ve really known. I've grown up doing that. I've come from a blue collar family from Las Vegas where my dad was a Mac Tool, man and didn't come up from a lot but obviously trying to instill those same traits into my kids and how we go about what we do each and every week to go to the race track. So, for me, I would like to think that just, you know, again, showing the human side, humanizing myself and what is important to me, not just at the race track, but away from the race track.”
What do you expect from tonight’s race?
“So yes, if somebody wins to knock themselves in, right, so that to me is where the storyline is so you're going to have legit, you know, the rest of the guys that want to go race for a win as well too. All of us we want to go race for a win and with the unknown predictability of Daytona and what all of that is here just lends itself into the perfect storm of opportunity of guys to win and knock themselves in. So you know, I think there's going to be a big race up front. And, you know, I'd love to be in that. I need bonus points just as the other guys do. I need regular points. You know, we've fallen far enough it'd be nice to I think we have a legit shot for getting one or two spots back where we're at right now. So that's two more Playoff points that we have a shot for. So it'd be nice to not lose those. But you also I do know, at the end of the day, you got to be in it to win it. And so if you're not there at the end of this race, then you don't have a shot to win. So you know that that obviously plays a role as well.”
How do you approach this race for yourself?
“Knowing all of that, I don't know I'm still on the fence about it. I want to go out there and race because you know, when you go out there and race you're around people at the front of the pack for much of the day, and they get a chance to be around you see how you run see how fast your car is if they can work well with you. But on the flip side of that is if you're around them and then you're wiped out or they're wiped out and you weren't there in the beginning of the race. There's new contenders at the end of the race, so yeah, I don't know. If I could guarantee myself a lead lap spot, stay on the lead lap by being a half a lap down the whole race, I would probably take that. And then what restart do you go on? Do you go on the restart ten to go do you go on the recent the third overtime restart, which one do you go on? I don't know. And the other thing too is like once you get two wide, it's going to be hard to make moves and go up the middle and get up towards the front so you kind of need to put yourself in a spot or get yourself worked into a good spot before that final pit stop. So if that answered any questions, I have no idea good luck. That's how I feel like people are telling me tonight. I don't know, good luck.”
Have you spoken to Kurt Busch and how is he doing after the news from this week?
“I’m not speaking for Kurt Busch. Same as though I'm not speaking for Kyle Busch either. So, a few of you got that, good work, all right. So yeah, he's, I mean, he's down right, like he wants to be here. He wants to go out there. He wants to race he wants to put a helmet on again and he wants to get back in that race car, as I would expect. I've been around him for all of my 37 years. And so, you know, he's a talented and driven individual who wants to go out there and do what he loves to do. So, I respect his decision and his news that he gave earlier this week for relinquishing a Playoff spot. I think that's mighty strong of him to do and obviously I feel like it's also -- he's not he's not sacrificing himself for a spot or taking a spot from the rest of the field. Right. Like he's relinquishing that spot for others to be able to go out there and race with his unknown status at this time. So I think that was very strong with him. And yeah, I think that's going to bode well.”
From the family side, are you worried about Kurt’s recovery?
“You're always worried about your family, right? You know, certainly want the best for him and whatever that is, but obviously his health needs to be first and he's going through the exercises and the things that he's told to do in order to make sure that he can please the doctors to get back in that race car. So you know, this Kurt Busch not being in the race car is not Kurt Busch's decision. It's someone else's. So that's what stinks to but also that's what keeps us from ourselves and going out there and racing hurt is those around the sport and the doctors in which he has to deal with. Yeah, it's tough for sure. It's not easy, but he's fine. He's I don't know how to say this politely. But he's not knocked himself stupid. He's, he's very well aware of the decisions and the repercussions of those that he's making. So I give him full vote, or full credit for making those.”
How do you try to help your Toyota teammates tonight with the 19 holding a Playoff spot and the 23 trying to get into the Playoffs?
“If I'm coming off a turn four the 23 (Bubba Wallace) and the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) are side by side in front of me and I'm the next one, I'm lifting. So if I know I can't win, I am out. Just give me the points. So yeah, that's kind of how I look at it. Obviously, you don't necessarily, again, the 13 other car numbers you’ve got to figure out that are in the picture that you don't want to push to a win if Martin's the last one on points. You know, same thing like you, you obviously, you know, if there's the 9 (Chase Elliott) car is on the bottom, and there's, name one, the 43 (Erik Jones) on the outside, and I'm following the 43 like, the 100% rule comes into effect, right? What do you do? You obviously don't want to knock a teammate out.”
Do you need give-and-take to win a championship?
“Absolutely. Yes you do, you need give and take to win a championship.”
Will Ross Chastain get benefit of the doubt when it come to the Playoffs with other drivers?
“Absolutely not, no way, no chance. I don’t think people are paying him back yet, they’re waiting for the right time. Denny (Hamlin) got really tight off turn one in Pocono. I know how tight these cars can get.”
Have you had your Toyota meeting yet and have you talked about different scenarios?
“Yes. Just what I said before, if the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.) and the 23 (Bubba Wallace) or side by side I'm out. That's what I said. You know, like I said, obviously, it's the 13 other car numbers that you don't need to be behind pushing to the checkered flag to score a win. If you know the 19 is on the edge. So yeah, I mean all that's been laid out.”
How will aggression with this new race car in the Playoffs impact the racing when everyone gets to Darlington?
“Yeah, I think the biggest thing with this car is people are seeing it take little hits a bit more racing hits, you know, knocking each other out of the way pushing on each other a little bit leaning on the bodies. The bodies are way, for sure, more durable in that aspect, but the chassis components still have a tick of weakness to them, you know, you can bump on the fence or somebody else and bend a front or rear tow rod. And so those are the things that that you're cautious of or more cautious of is those wheel hits. But the body stuff, yeah, everybody's taking full advantage of that and leaning on everybody a little bit more, which I think we all kind of saw was going to be an opportunity with this car with the composite body we see an opportunity a little bit. And you know, as you said the parity plays a piece in that too because these cars are more similar to the same speed. I mean, you look at Martinsville tests, they ran 300 and some laps and the whole field was within three tenths you know, so yeah, like passing at a road course. You know, you have to bomb it off in there and you know, you're not going to make the corner you know, you're going to lean on the guy and push him out of the groove in order to make a pass like that's how it's done now, just because there is, I don't have any better breaks than the next guy because they're all bought from the same place.”
Does it change how the 19 is viewed in the Playoffs if he can only compete for the driver’s championship and not the owner’s championship within the Joe Gibbs Racing organization?
“No, I don't think it changes anything. I think Joe (Gibbs) looks at it as if it's in. I don't think there's any difference, any separation in that. You want to talk about contracts, let's talk about contracts. I don't know what's in his contract with Toyota and TRD or his sponsors if the car isn't what the driver is, or if it's even in there and spelled out, I don't know. Mine would say that if I'm in, I get what I'm supposed to get, you know what I mean? So I don't know how that works otherwise, but I probably gave you guys a whole other topic to go down the rabbit hole on. I'm sorry, Joe. So anyway, they won't look any different than 19 car will still be a normal player for us as the Playoffs progress.”