Kyle Busch driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs racing entry in NASCAR's Sprint Cup, has joined RACER to answer your questions. Here's his first batch of responses. Got another question for Kyle? E-mail him at email@example.com.
How different is the handling of a Cup car to a Nationwide car, which one is easier to adjust for a given circuit or to your tastes, and which one do you think puts more emphasis on driver talent?
Grant Kershin, Omaha, Neb.
“I can actually try to explain all three. I believe there's a way you drive the Trucks and there's a way you drive the Nationwide Series cars. That's full-out, as fast as you can go. The harder you go, the faster you can go and it's such a momentum game with those two. You have to pace yourself in the Cup cars a bit. You have to slow them down. You can drive them hard for the first three or four laps. Then, you have to start backing off, start slowing down, slowing up your entry, slowing down the center, just kind of moseying around the corner, trying to make the thing stick in one particular groove.
You know, we're gaining on the car every week. But I think a lot of it is a little bit of driver. You've got to stay calm when you can. You've got to get going when the time's right and not get too excited, before then, or you are prone to make a mistake. The Cup cars are the hardest cars to drive so they're not all that fun but the greatest satisfaction comes when you win a Cup race. Just because it's the biggest of the big. You want to win as many as you can of those.”
Have you ever had a chance to check out old stock cars like late '60s/'70s/'80s era and if not, would you be interested in trying them? If so, which most interests you?
Jeff Woods, Midland, Texas
“I haven't seen a whole lot of the old stock cars in person, but I have looked up on YouTube and watched parts of some old races. I did a little of that after I won Darlington last year, actually. That racetrack has so much history to it. I don't claim to know all the history and heritage of it, but I know there's a lot to it. I know watching old videos of (David) Pearson or Cale (Yarborough) there, then watching some of the highlights of the races there, too. You think of things like Jeff's (Gordon) million, (Bill) Elliott's million. Then you've got races from before that time, when they were still running around there with guardrail walls.”
What did you think of the Grand-Am car at Daytona? Is sports car racing something that would interest you, or are you NASCAR for life?
Stu Forrest, Kissimmee, Fla.
“It was fun. I wouldn't do it again on the same day of a Cup race, especially since it was hotter than any racecar I've ever been in. But, I think I'd like to try the Rolex 24 someday. I'm fortunate to be able to work with Toyota and their Lexus brand, so you never know. It was fun, but not something that I'd be interested in doing full time. At least not in this part of my career.”
Which of the top drivers do you trust not to try and wreck you if you're fighting for the lead with like five laps to go?
Will Johnson, Laughlin, Nev.
“Actually, a bunch of guys, but certainly guys like Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Burton, and especially Mark Martin, of course. Mark is such a class act and Bristol this year proved that. He raced me hard but raced me clean, and when the shoe is on the other foot he knows how I'm going to race him the same way.”
So was all that talk about trying an F1 car, just a publicity thing, or are you serious? And is it ever gonna happen? I've got a suggestion: if F1 comes back to Indy next year. Would you be cool with trying it out for the first time in front of a crowd?
Al Mertens, Charlotte, N.C.
“The guys with USF1 were the ones that brought my name up, not me. But I was all set to go to Japan last November to test a F1 car with Toyota, just to try it and out and see what it was like. But unfortunately, I had to go to the Nationwide Series banquet and we couldn't change the test to another date, so I wasn't able to go. I'd still like to try it out someday and see if I would be any good. There are a lot of other vehicles I'd like to try at least once. But if they were racing at Indy, it would be hard to do a one-off F1 ride with how busy my NASCAR schedule is. That's where my priorities are at right now.”
Do you ever watch the races again afterward, and if you do, do you ever see things you could have done better?
Kenny Murray, Winston-Salem, N.C.
“Good question. For sure I do. I'm always looking at what I did and thinking of ways to get better. During a typical race weekend, I spend time in the hauler since we DVR each practice session, and I rewind it to see what my line was and how other fast guys are doing and what line they are taking. I think that helps me give better feedback to Steve (Addington) and the guys. So yes, I'm constantly looking at ways to improve by watching back practice and the race.”
If NASCAR was going to bring new circuits into the Cup calendar, are there any you'd like to see? Which ones would you replace? And would you want to bring Cup racing up North?
Steve Marette, Kamloops, B.C., Canada
“I really like Iowa Speedway, since its been a good track for me and it's a bit different than any other track we race on with the Cup cars. We had fun racing up in Montreal with the Nationwide Series and the Canadian fans are great and love racing, but the issue is that there isn't a Cup-caliber oval up there that makes sense right now.”
Should NASCAR race on dirt ovals too, to throw a bit of variety out there? I'm getting bored of too many tracks looking the same on TV.
Bill Mahoney, Charleston, S.C.
“Not sure that's something I'd like to see with the Cup cars because some of the guys come from dirt, but I didn't grow up racing on those types of tracks. Not to say that the Eldora race wasn't a lot of fun in a dirt late model. It was a blast. I ended up third in Scott Bloomquist's car there and also raced at Williams Grove on dirt in Kasey Kahne's charity race, but not sure those are right for a Cup race. The facilities aren't built for the crowds that we get.”
Who would you most want to see take the Cup – one of your JGR teammates or your brother?
Mike Gee, Youngstown, Ohio
“I'd like to see my brother do well, but I'm committed to helping Denny (Hamlin) win the championship as much as I can and to steal as many points away from the other guys. All of the focus is going on the 11 and I'll do my best to help Denny out and bring Joe Gibbs Racing a championship and hopefully I can do my part on the racetrack as well as on just giving the best advice from my car and helping those guys.”
If you look back at Kyle Busch around 2006, and Kyle Busch now, what ways would you say you've improved (in or out of the cockpit)? For what it's worth, I think you seem better in interviews now.
Nate Endswick, Galveston, Texas
“Inside the racecar, fans might not see this, but I'm so much more patient that I used to be. A lot of times before, I would get impatient early in a race and end up wrecking myself or running into problems. I'm much more patient throughout the race. When it's time to go at the end of the race for a win, then I'm still that aggressive person, but I have learned to be patient before then.”
If they changed the schedule so it could happen, would you be interested in doing the Indy 500 and Coke 600? What do you think of IndyCar racing?
Katie Swann, Indianapolis, IN
“I've never even tried an IndyCar, so I think that wouldn't make sense. I think its tough to do because of that and the fact that the sponsors over here are so important and you really could take away from a lot of things on the Cup side, which would be the priority.”
If you quit now, do you think the fans and the media would remember you as a great racecar driver in terms of your wins-per-start ratio?
John Lovell, Atlanta, Ga.
“I think it might be a little too early in my career to look at that. I'm still 24. I just go out there every race and try to win, or at least do the best as I can. I enjoy setting records for sure, but hard to say years from now how I will be judged as a driver. I hope we win many more races and will see where I end up some day.”
Do you like being seen as the Bad Guy among the fans? Or do you just not care?
Dave Lester, Portland, Ore.
“I would say neither. I just don't let it bother me, so it is what it is. When I came into this sport I was booed my first ever Busch Series race and I hadn't done anything at that point, it was just judging off what my brother has done. As long as I'm trying to win and the fans are making some noise, I know I'm doing something right.”
Do you do much of a workout between races? Do you have a high metabolic rate, or is it hard for you to stay slim? And do you actually eat a lot of M&Ms?!
Jake Gentry, Indianapolis, IN.
“I've been joking that I've been growing into my man weight this year. I used to work out a few years ago and kind of found it didn't really give me an advantage. You still have to stay somewhat fit, don't get me wrong, but it didn't change things for me like it has for some other guys. And yes I do eat M&M's. Almond ones are my favorite, but it isn't why I've grown into my man weight.”
If you want to know what Kyle thinks about his rivals, the teams, the tracks, the chance of switching to Formula 1 – anything at all, just email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will publish the best of the questions and answers. -Ed.