Kyle Busch broke a 21-race losing streak Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway, and in the process showed some signs of getting his Joe Gibbs-owned team back on track after struggling during the first nine races.
Busch talked about getting back in Victory Lane and what it means to his team as it tries to qualify for the Chase for the Championship. Here are excerpts of that interview:
Q: Where is your team after the first 10 races and where do your need to go?
A: I'll just say that, you know, having Dave (Rogers, crew chief) come onboard this year, the end of last year, I saw a turnaround in the team. We went to Texas, ran strong. Homestead, one of my non-great racetracks, we ran strong. This year we've been trying real hard as being able to get Dave accustomed to the car and me to be a little bit more patient inside the racecar and also let Dave come into here and make this his race team. I feel like he's done a really nice job at it. Joe and J.D. (Gibbs) have given in and allowed Dave and us to do what we need to do in order to make this a championship team. The guys in the garage area really see that, see the hours that Dave puts in every week. His family sees it, as well, too. I'm very fortunate to have a crew chief that does all that. Of course, you know, our A- and B-team guys, they've stepped up their game. They've come to not play anymore, they've come to work hard and make sure that we win some races.
Q: Although some doubted you after Steve Addington was fired last year and replaced with Dave Rogers, why were you so confident it was going to work?
A: When Dave came onboard, I don't know if I saw something or if I felt something, but I've worked with Dave in a couple of races in the Nationwide Series and really enjoyed my time working with him. He's a smart guy. He's a methodical thinker, utilizes the tools we have at JGR and makes more, pushes everybody harder. He's done it all throughout the off-season and all throughout this year. Some of our engineers were telling us, That's not the direction we need to go. Dave pushed it. It seems to be paying off for us. Dave and I, we have a lot of same mentality, which maybe is scary to some. But to us it actually works pretty good. You know, we're both fiery competitors. We both want to win. We both get upset when we don't or things don't go our way. We understand each other. We understand each other's feelings and philosophies. I think that's what makes us a team that works well together. As far as not being able to win in 21 races, shucks, darn, gee, golly, sorry. I certainly wish it wasn't 21 races. But, you know, it was a long end of the year last year. You know, we maybe should have won a few weeks ago. But it doesn't work out that way sometimes.
Q: Are you relieved to win again?
A: It stinks to not win every single weekend or not every 21 weekends or 21 races, but it certainly feels nice to come out here with another good win and get another good finish. Now we just got to keep this momentum rolling and have the guys keep pulling forward and go on into next week at Darlington, a tough racetrack for myself, even though I won there in '08, we crashed out there last year. Now I'm looking forward to trying to keep this going.
Q: You talk about the "old" Kyle and the "new" Kyle. What's the difference?
A: You know, I think it's a lot of everything. To be honest with you, I think, shoot, man, I turn 25 (on Tuesday), I'm getting old. I feel that way anyway. You know, I felt like there was some patience and felt like Dave needed some time to get going and get everything organized, to get the team behind him, you know, to get a lot of things in the car that he wants in the car. I think it's just a patience things. I've become a little bit more patient.
Q: With double-file restarts, are there more games being played by the drivers?
A: I just felt like there were some games being played there. From what I'm told, you're supposed to keep the pace with the pace car till you get to the zone, then find your place in the zone where you want to take off and go.
Q: You led most of the race Saturday night and fell back in the pack after the final pit stop. Were you worried?
A: For the old Kyle Busch, he would have folded. The new one, he stuck in there, he dug hard. He kept going. You know, I mean, it was difficult. You know, I just kept driving every lap with what I had. That's all I ever do. It seems like every race so far this year we've had at least one run where we've fallen back. Texas was a big one. We came in the pits. Came out of the pits sixth with a third-place car on the previous run and dropped all the way back to 22nd or 25th or something like that before we could come back to pit road and make an adjustment to get back going forward again. We faded a little bit. Just kept doing what we could do.