When Kyle Busch won last week's race at the Bristol Motor Speedway, he had a lot of criticism for NASCAR's Car of Tomorrow.
"I just can't stand to drive this thing," Busch complained. "It's terrible, and I hope we can just go out there and win the race and then tell everybody how terrible it is."
Busch talked it and about the kind of racing brought on by the new car, which is taller and wider to enhance safety and competition while controlling costs, after the race. Here are excerpts of that interview:
Question: How was the racing with the new Car of Tomorrow?
Busch: It wasn't all that great. We definitely have some work to do. We certainly weren't the class of the field. Tony Stewart was. Denny Hamlin was awfully strong as well and the Evernham cars were really good, too. They just had bad breaks and had trouble. It's a hard thing to try to come out with a new car and take the Impala SS and make it run right the first time out. We kind of had everything fall out right for us and to get to Victory Lane. But those other guys were definitely better than us. They just didn't have things fall the right way.
Question: Why wasn't it a good race?
Busch: When I got up front and I was in the top-six, Tony Stewart was gone, he was checked out. Second place was five car lengths ahead of third place, which was three car lengths ahead of fourth. We all got kind of strung out. I was 10th, 11th or 12th and I looked up and nothing was going on. I thought: This is a great race.' And then the spotter came on and said there's a real logjam behind me. There's a logjam because people can't turn, they're sliding up the track and bumping into one another or whatever, trying to make way through traffic and stuff. But when you're out front, you know, you can't pass well. For me, I got tight in traffic and then when I got out front and when Denny (Hamlin) came up and passed me I was loose. So at Bristol that's not cool.
Question: Despite not liking the car, is there any pride in being the first driver to win a Car of Tomorrow race?
Busch: I'm very proud of our whole team and that we were able to pull through and get the job done. But it wasn't easy for us or for anybody else. Everybody has had to build these things. Everybody has worked their hearts out, but we were able to prevail today. I'm glad we were able to get the victory today. Hey, I'm a happy winner.
Question: What did you learn about the new car after 500 miles of racing?
Busch: It still doesn't turn. For me, it's not a fun car. It's a hard car to race around the racetrack with other competitors as you don't have the maneuverability, you can't really pass all that well. With the old car, if you were tight at least you could go up the racetrack and then come back down and then shoot out of the hole. But with this thing, whenever you started to slide the front tires, it continued to slide. So it's almost like you're on skis out there. Another problem that perhaps nobody thought of is that if you have a front tire go down and there's no rubber on the racetrack you're just going to slide on that ski and into the fence. I think we saw that with a couple of competitors today. It's a hard car to set up and it's a hard car to drive. Maybe if we learn more about it, it will become better, but I don't really remember anyone complaining about the old one we had.
Question: Is there irony that you don't like the car and yet you won?
Busch: I just can't stand to drive this thing. It's terrible, and I hope we can just go out there and win the race and then tell everybody how terrible it is. I'm glad we were able to do it. I don't know; I'm done talking about it. It's hard; it's terrible. With the Busch car, it's been fun; it's been great. Like Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) said, we took it in-house and we worked on it and we worked on that program and I think we turned it around. It's a lot better to run well on Saturday to learn things and to be able to transfer that on to Sunday. Even though the cars are different, you can still learn a little bit about the racetrack. That's always going to be said. The more track time, the better even though the cars are different. That's why I run truck series races. The biggest thing for me to do on Saturday is to run as well as we can for our sponsors, for Mr. (Hendrick), and for all those guys that work so hard at the shop and build those things.
Question: Will the Car of Tomorrow make you change the way you drive?
Busch: It's harder to tune, which makes it harder to drive. Because you're telling the crew chief this and you're telling him that and we can't fix it. We've tried everything. And anytime you try to help the center, you kill the entry and exit. You want to get the car to turn through the center of the corner, then it's spinning out getting in and coming off the corners. Anytime we fix the entry and the exit now I'm plowing through the center again. It's just so hard to tune. That's what made it hard to drive. Because you're searching all over the place and you can't find anything. Nothing works. So you're just sitting there struggling with the thing. When I had it good on entry, I just go off into the corner and full-lock left the thing and judge my turning ability by how fast I needed to go through the corner. If it was turning good, then I'd speed up a little bit. If it wasn't, I'd slow down a little bit. You just hold the wheel full-lock. It's not very fun. There's no maneuverability with the thing. That's my take.