Toyota NCWTS Michigan Post-Race Notes & Quotes
Tundra driver Kyle Busch earned his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) victory at Michigan International Speedway in Saturday’s race.
KYLE BUSCH, No. 51 Dollar General Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Finishing Position: 1st
How special is it to finally get to victory lane at Michigan in the Truck Series?
“First win for me, first win for KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) here. I can’t thank Dollar General enough, M&M’s and everybody on that program. Jerry Baxter (crew chief) and these guys at KBM, they do an awesome job. It’s really fun to race my trucks, I really enjoy it. This Camping World Truck Series is pretty fun – I love racing with those guys up there, (Erik) Jones and (Ryan) Blaney and (Austin) Dillon, it was pretty hectic on how all that was going to shape up and play out. This Joe Gibbs Racing engine was strong there with those last restarts and our KBM chassis was awesome all day. It just drove really, really good. That one set of tires, I don’t know why, but it got real, real loose and we put some of the changes back and went another direction and it was really good from there on out. Can’t say enough about this Toyota Tundra and TRD (Toyota Racing Development). Just cool to finally get that monkey off my back here in the Truck Series and notch another race track where I’ve won in all three divisions here at Michigan.”
Were you worried about Erik Jones helping Ryan Blaney in the closing laps?
“I was, I came over the radio and I was like, ‘Tell the 4 (Erik Jones) to either pass him (Ryan Blaney) or stop pushing him back to me.’ I know Jones was trying to fight for second, it looked like he was a little tight back there. Overall, a great day for KBM. We almost had a one, two finish there and thank Cody Coughlin and the JEGS folks for being with us here this weekend. Hopefully, we can maybe move on with that. Just enjoy running with these guys and this team. Everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports obviously trucks you can do it on a heck of a lot smaller budget than you would an Xfinity program or something like that. These guys do a great job with what I’m able to provide and what Toyota gives us to work with. Thank all the fans too, everybody here, everybody on TV – I thought it was a good show. I wish there wasn’t that many cautions there at the end and we could have raced it out and put on a better show, but it was still nail biting, let’s put it that way.”
How intense were the restarts?
“Really those last restarts I wasn’t sure how it was going to play out and what was going to go on. I wanted a friendly person behind me pushing me – a fellow Toyota guy, but we didn’t quite get that. Austin (Dillon) pushed me on the second-to-last restart and then made a bold move down the back and got the lead almost. That was pretty exciting and I wasn’t sure exactly what was going to happen on that last one there. (Ryan) Blaney and that inside lane got going and my outside lane didn’t – I had Johnny Sauter behind me and those guys just did a better job of getting together and pushing and of course got by us. Our truck was so strong and I just knew that if I could bide my time and if I had enough laps and before the time would run out I could get back to him and fortunately we were able to do that. I got that lead just before that last caution came out and there again, just too many yellows there at the end. I hate it for the fans to not be able to put on a better show, but this Camping World Truck Series is awesome, it’s a lot of fun and I enjoy it. I can’t thank Dollar General, M&M’s, Toyota – this TRD (Toyota Racing Development) truck was awesome. The KBM chassis was flawless and there on those last restarts the JGR engine really pulled through the gears. Real proud of my guys, everyone here – Jerry Baxter (crew chief) and this team, they do a good job with not a lot and we’re able to do some good things.”
What happened on the speeding penalty early in the race?
“We were trying something new today with our tach settings and it just didn’t quite work. Busted early, but we just lined back up and we were able to restart and try to come back through and that run of the race was actually really hairy for us – we were really loose and super loose getting into the corners. I was barely hanging on there a few times, but thankfully these trucks tend to put on a good show. You can kind of draft back up on guys and use the bottom, use the top, kind of work around a little bit. Our truck was really good on the long runs when things would kind of single file out, we were really good – the Dollar General Tundra was fast and had good feel and good speed on long runs. That’s what I was kind of hoping for when we pitted there on that last pit stop that the thing would go green. We had a good lead, but we had a lot of cautions. I don’t think we ran but one complete lap until there on that final restart we were actually able to run five or six there. We just wanted to get back racing and get back green and hammer it out. (Austin) Dillon was strong and (Ryan) Blaney was strong – those guys were good for short stints, but that’s the way the race played out there at the end and Jerry (Baxter, crew chief) and these guys fixed my truck there on that last pit stop and made it really good for me. It was good to drive.”
What exactly was happening with the tachometer?
“Essentially, that’s what we had, we had two different sets of lights going on – one set was kind of over powering another set. Basically, it’s kind of like when we ran or if you ran pit road speed lights from a Bristol versus a Michigan, they’re entirely different and they were kind of bleeding over one another. We’ll have to make sure we get that fixed before next week.”
What has it been like having Logan Fairbanks as a guest here at Michigan?
“It was really neat to just be able to reach out to him and his Dad and invite them to come on out to the speedway and see if they were wanting to. Low and behold they took our invite and they came on out here today and so far, so good. They had a good time here hanging out with Samantha, she toured them around. They did some hauler tours and they were in our pit box for the whole race and just kind of hung out. It was nice to be able to win a race and get him in victory lane and show that there are nice people in this world. That was fun to do and to see and just to have him kind of laid back and enjoying things for today. We’re going to have him with us tomorrow – he’ll get a full days’ worth again tomorrow if he wants to. Come out early and go through Interstate Batteries hospitality and just kind of hang out there with some folks and have a nice time and be with us for the start of the race and everything. Glad him and his Dad decided to come on out, they’re really nice and really cool to hang out with and just talk to and see what they’re interests are all about. Logan is not much of a NASCAR fan, we’re trying to turn him into one. He says he’s watched a few races before, but never really paid much attention. We’ll see if I can become his favorite driver or if somebody else will.”
How are the trucks able to put on such a great race here at Michigan?
“These are just naturally boxy and draggy and you’re trying to manufacture something with the car that you just can’t do, you just can’t make it happen. If you wanted the same affect, you’d have to stand the noses straight up and down and the windshield up probably 40 degrees. It’s just a matter of what these trucks are and how they’re build. The truck race still was a little dicey, there were times where there at the end, the leader, myself would go into the corner and run your line and the guy behind you would always run a little left of you or a little below you to stay out of your wake and he’d be okay doing that. Anytime you go off into the corner as the leader and you just want to be like, ‘Ha ha, watch this,’ and you would turn the wheel left and cut in front of that guy and he’s in your wake and you gain three or four lengths on a guy right then and there. The thing about the draft is it doesn’t take long for them to recover from messing up. The 29 (Ryan Blaney) there with two to go, when him and the 4 (Erik Jones) kind of got close together, they drafted right back to me. I don’t know if it was within a straightaway, but it was definitely within two straightaways and they were back on my bumper. You’re just able to recover so much faster with a truck.”
What has it been like to watch Erik Jones develop as a driver?
“He’s (Erik Jones) done a great job, he’s done anything and everything that’s been asked of him. I think that he’s still young, he still has a lot of experience to gain. He’s not too far off from reaching the Sprint Cup Series level, but once you do reach that level and you run a couple years you definitely tend to become a way better racer and like me, you can go run Xfinity or Truck and look really good I guess. Jones, he’s come up through the ranks really fast. He’s not been in race cars for very many years, but he’s done a great job with what he’s had. He’s been in decent equipment, some family equipment to start with and won in that and then we took him in at KBM and Toyota, have to thank Toyota a ton for that and their support in helping him further his career through the trucks this year. We’re hoping he can bring home a championship.”
Do you take a sense of pride in discovering Erik Jones?
“I wouldn’t say I take a sense of pride in that, if I did I’d have an agency and I’d have him under my management firm. That’s for the birds, been there, done that. He’s on his own in that respect. It’s just a matter of him doing the job that he’s set out to do and he’s been excelling at that.”
Will you take a more conservative approach in tomorrow’s race having to start at the rear of the field?
“Oh yeah, for sure. We were originally anyways and I had a really good race car, but that first run in final practice I was running fine and everything was good and then through (turns) one and two the car felt good, stuck good and was wide open and carried it down into turn three and four and started getting a little free. When it did I was like, it’s not that big of a deal, but it just kept carrying, it never stopped getting sideways and finally it was just too late to try to save it so I just wanted to drive through it and not do what I did in the spring and kill it on the outside wall. Low and behold I kill it in the grass. That was unfortunate and I hate it for my guys, they’re still over there working on it, the backup car to get ready for tomorrow. I’m going to go out on a limb and say it’s probably not as good, it didn’t feel as good as the primary car, but we were kind of a long ways off when we went out there just to shake it down and get some laps on it. Starting in the back, we’ll definitely tighten up a heck of a lot more than we were planning on doing to start the race just being in that much traffic and then just try to work our way through as best we can. If top-20 is it, then that’s it. It doesn’t matter, Michigan’s not a place I had circled on the list to go win at so let’s just make it through tomorrow and carry on.”
JERRY BAXTER, crew chief, No. 51 Dollar General Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Were you confident in how strong the Tundra would be in today’s race?
“Coming in today, we knew we didn’t have any single truck speed and it showed in qualifying. Once the race got going and even after yesterday, I saw we had good speed in traffic. With the drafting the way it is around here, I was just thankful I had Kyle (Busch) in the seat. The 33 (Austin Dillon) was really good out there and there were quite a few of them that were really good out there. I was getting a little stressed out, but this time it wasn’t because of fuel so that’s a good thing.”
What affect did the speeding penalty have on the race strategy?
“It did have a little bit of an affect, we were able to on the one to go lap, come back down pit road so we essentially ended up with two more laps of fuel in the truck than anybody else. Not knowing if the race was to have two or three green-white-checkers at the end. That gave us a little bit of confidence there and knowing that the draft is so effective here, we pretty much thought we could get back up toward the front. That’s kind of what changed it up for us.”
ERIK JONES, No. 4 Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Finishing Position: 3rd
How was the race today?
“We were just a little off all day unfortunately. We had to work pretty hard to get it back to where we needed it to be and had to pit there with like 25 (laps) to go or so and loosen it way up. It wasn’t quite enough of an adjustment of what we needed, but it got us close and we were able to make some good moves on restarts and get back up to third. That’s a good point’s day for us, we’re only nine (points) back and that’s really nice to say, really nice to feel for the first time this year – we’re back in it. We just have to keep doing the same thing and keep having these good weeks and keep having good trucks. We’ll have our Tundra up there before too long.”
How was your race?
“We just missed it a little bit from yesterday to today. We were so free in practice yesterday and kind of worked our way to get it tighter and better in traffic and it turned out we went a little bit too far on a set of tires yesterday and kind of threw us off – just missed it, was too tight all day and ended up having to really fight with the truck most of the day getting adjustments. Pitted there late with 25 (laps) or so to go and got us back in contention to run with the 51 (Kyle Busch) and 29 (Ryan Blaney), but not quite good enough to run with those two really for the win. If we could have got a run or something maybe, but they were definitely the class of the field. Nice having a good comeback and get ourselves another good, solid finish.”
What did you think about your first Michigan race?
“It was exciting, I felt like we learned a lot throughout the day, not only my team, but myself about how to get around this place and felt like maybe next time we’ll have the truck a little bit better with practice next time. It was a learning day overall and enjoyed the race – it’s definitely chaotic at times on restarts. Just makes it exciting when you’re on the offense trying to come back through the field, just a tough race track, honestly with the racing is with the trucks as close to wide open as we are you really have to get yourself into the right spot at the right time and that’s not always the easiest thing to do.”
JOHNNY SAUTER, No. 98 Nextant/Curb Records Toyota Tundra, ThorSport Racing
Finishing Position: 4th
How strong was the truck today and what happened on the extended pit stop under green?
“We had a great Tundra. I don’t know what happened on that pit stop, I guess the shock wouldn’t come out or something. They just couldn’t get the tire off I guess, I don’t know why. All in all a good day and a decent finish. I thought we had the best truck. I thought we could have raced with Kyle (Busch), but those restarts are just a little crazy. I wasn’t very strong on restarts, I needed a couple laps to get separation and then I could pick them off one at a time, but still a decent day.”
What happened on the track and how were you able to battle back to a top-five?
“Our Nextant Toyota Tundra was good. I have to thank everyone at ThorSport Racing. I was there at the shop in Sandusky, Ohio and the truck was really good there. For whatever reason, had trouble getting the right front to come off in that pit stop I guess is what they told me. To drive like we did, I think we started ninth and drove to the front and came out of the pits there early, had the same problem and drove right back to the lead. We just ran wide open the whole time and felt really good about it and decided to take four (tires) because we had the lead and then just had trouble getting the front off. All in all a good day for us. Not exactly what we wanted because we’ve been having kind of a bad year, but a top-five is decent.”
MATT CRAFTON, No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra, ThorSport Racing
Finishing Position: 6th
What happened on the race track with your windshield?
“That was pretty amazing because how often do you see a windshield break in half. The left side windshield broke in front of me and it would completely cave in on me going down the front straightaway when I was in dirty air and it actually started breaking loose from the roof and I said, ‘Hey folks, this is going to be huge when it comes in, it’s going to come in on me.’ It was pretty amazing what those guys did – that was good little piece of bare bond stuck on the windshield and it kind of went just in the right spot, was kind of like a blind spot because it was hard to see with all of it stuck on the windshield. Then felt really good and the yellow came out and it almost fell out because the air was kind of holding it in at that point. Very trying day and to come out with a top-10 after we had to go from the back to the front, back to the front and then the green-white-checkered finish.”
TIMOTHY PETERS, No. 17 Red Horse Racing Toyota Tundra, Red Horse Racing
Finishing Position: 8th
CAMERON HAYLEY, No. 13 Cabinets by Hayley Toyota Tundra, ThorSport Racing
Finishing Position: 10th
CODY COUGHLIN, No. 54 JEGS Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Finishing Position: 20th
BEN KENNEDY, No. 11 Local Motors Toyota Tundra, Red Horse Racing
Finishing Position: 25th