– Kyle Bush won the championship in 2015. Looking for that first Daytona 500 this weekend. Glad to have you with us in the Hollywood Hotel.
– Thank you. Right on. Glad to be here.
– Yeah, and another year begins, and it all starts right here, at the place that we all want to make it happen, right? In the Daytona 500. So how does your mindset start zooming in as we get closer to Sunday?
– Well, you try not to get too amped up, you know. Some of these guys, especially me when I was younger, I wanted to come in, I wanted to win the Daytona 500 in my first, second, third, fourth start, you know, whatever it might have been.
But you kind of got to let the race come to you. You’ve got to let it play out. It’s a 500 mile event. It’s a long race. It’s like the rest of the season, too. It’s a marathon, and you’ve got to kind of let it play. Not try too much too early, and not get yourself in a bad spot so you can have a good car and a car that’s fresh and ready to go later in the day.
– But Kyle, Daytona has been good to you. You’ve won the Duel, you’ve won the Clash, you’ve won the 400, trucks, Xfinity. You even won an ARCA race here in 2004. It’s just that one little box that we just hadn’t quite checked yet, so it’s been good to you.
– The hardest one to get is the last to get, right? So it always seems to be that way for me, for whatever reason. But, you know, Daytona’s been a fun place. I’ve enjoyed racing here over the years, especially when it was rough and old and bumpy and all that sort of stuff. And the repave has kind of set my trajectory of winning here a little bit slower than what I would have liked, but it’s starting to age and get that little bit of character back and everything. And it would certainly be nice to score that Daytona 500 victory and not have to go 20 years of trying.
– 20 years of frustration.
– 20 years of frustration, or 25, or 30, or whatever it might be. And, you know, sooner rather than later would much rather suit me than farther down the road.
– My notes say you’ve made 25 starts here in the Cup series, between the 500 and the summer race here. Do you ever stop learning when it comes to racing at this place?
– No, you don’t, because things change. The biggest thing that you have every year is, drivers change, cars change, things change, draft change, styles of how you do things in the draft all kind of change. So the side draft’s been around for a long, long time, the bump draft, the tandem draft. Things like that, that’s always kind of evolving and moving around.
And now that these Gen-6 cars, they don’t like the tandem style, they don’t like some other things. It’s all about the energy behind you. You can’t even just go suck off the guy in front of you, and then move out and pass him and clear him and move on. You kind of get stuck side by side.
So it seems like strength is in numbers. You’ve got to have a group of guys. You got to have cars behind you that you can build off of, and some guys are a heck of a lot better at that than others. Where I haven’t figured out what’s going on behind me because I only see one guy in my mirror, where it seems like some of these other guys see four or five guys in their mirror. I don’t know, but just haven’t quite got there.
– Kyle, the championship four-elimination format. You have made that championship for three out of the four years. As Adam mentioned, you won that 2015 championship. You had to win the race to win that championship. You finished second last year. By finishing second in the race, did you ever believe for four consecutive years you would have to win that race to win the championship?
– I didn’t think so, no. You know, when we went there in 2015, we were like, we’re looking at this guy, this guy, this guy, and this guy. And we just got to outperform them, and luckily we did outperform them, but we won the race. We didn’t think we had to win the race, but we thought we should project having to win the race. And then ever since we did that, and then we saw it again, it’s like, man, you’ve got to be the best car, you’ve got to be the best guy, you’ve got to be the fastest guy.
And last year I thought we were the best car. You know, I thought we actually had a car faster than Martin Truex Jr. in that race, and we were going to be better than them. It just came down to our strategy being a little bit different than their strategy, which, when that caution came out, it set us behind them. We didn’t come off of pit road as strong as we wanted to. We restarted behind them, and we just couldn’t chase them down in order to get in front of them.
– What’s the most enjoyable thing you did in the off season with your young son? Because you guys spend a lot of time together.
– We do. We hang out quite a bit. So he comes with me to the race shop sometimes and we go there, and we roll down the line of the trucks on both sides and then the super late models. And he like, he touches one. He’ll go over. He’ll touch another one. He’s like, he asked me, he goes, how come that one’s not ready? You know? And I’m like, I’m asking the same thing. I don’t know. Crew chiefs, how come that one’s not ready? Driver wants to know.
– He’s not going to be like his dad, is he? Now come on.
– And the days of tossing him up in victory lane, they’re about to come to a halt soon, yes.
– I know, so hopefully I can win my Daytona 500 and get him really high before I just can’t get him high at all.
– Tell him don’t push too hard. That’ll screw with the aerodynamics, you know.
– Yeah, well, I’m just going to tell him where to push.
– Oh, that’s it. That’s it.
– There you go.
– Hey, good to have you here.
– I appreciate it, yeah.
– And have a lot of fun this weekend, all right?
– Thank you very much. It’s been fun.