The 12 Questions series of interviews takes the green flag for its ninth season with Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing. These interviews are recorded as a podcast and are also transcribed. You can find previous interviews with Busch at the bottom of this post.
1. How often do you have dreams about racing?
Not that often, really. I’m actually not a dreamer, I guess. When I was a kid, I dreamt a lot. I remembered a lot of dreams. But since I’ve gotten older, I really don’t dream a whole lot that much anymore. I don’t sleep all that well. Like I don’t get into deep, deep sleeps very often. I don’t know what that is.
Funny story. Last year when I was at Bristol Motor Speedway, after the Truck race, it wasn’t until like 2 in the morning that I went to bed. (Wife) Samantha and (son) Brexton, they weren’t there, so finally when I crashed out and I went to bed, I was out-out. That was the deepest sleep I remember since Brexton’s been born, and I woke up in the morning and I was like, “Oh my God, where the hell am I?” You ever have any of those, like in a hotel room? Like, “What city or what state am I in?” I was like, “Where am I?” And it took me a second. Man, that was the best I’ve slept in a long time. I don’t get those very often.
You’re like, “Oh yeah, I won Bristol?”
I did. I woke up and I was like, “Oh yeah, I think I won last night.”
2. If you get into someone during a race — intentional or not — does it matter if you apologize?
I think if you get into them intentionally, I don’t think it matters if you apologize. I think if you get into them accidentally or unintentionally, then I think it should mean a little bit when you apologize, you know?
How do they know?
Well, you go up and tell them, “Man, look: I’m sorry, I did not mean to do that. That was totally my bad, I did not mean to do that.” But obviously, if you kind of get into somebody and then you don’t ever go talk to them afterwards, they’re kind of like, “Oh, OK. Well, I guess he kind of meant to.”
3. What is the biggest compliment someone could give you?
Well that’s like tooting your own horn, so I don’t know. I’ve had a lot of compliments over the years and I’ve a lot of non-compliments over the years. I guess, people all the time want to compare you to other drivers and I always kind of say that you can’t always compare somebody to somebody else who’s not in the same era. People want to say, “You’re like Dale Earnhardt” or “You’re like Richard Petty” or whatever and his 200 win thing. It’s not the same. It’s what I’m doing in my time right now, and it’s not the same as what they were doing in their time back then.
4. NASCAR comes to you and says, “Hey, we are bringing a celebrity to the race and we’re wondering if you have time to say hi.” Who is a celebrity you’d be really excited to host?
Two years ago, they brought Peyton Manning to the Bristol Motor Speedway. Actually, Nationwide brought him, but NASCAR let some of us know and they knew I was a big Peyton fan. So I was like, “That’s cool, I’d certainly like to have my time to talk to him or meet him, shake his hand, that sort of stuff.” I also maybe took like three or four of my favorite items of Broncos gear to the side and gave them to those guys and even spelled out on a piece of paper and wrote, “Sign here in silver” and “Here’s the silver (pen) that actually works,” and stuff like that. Yeah, I was that guy. I did that with Peyton Manning.
So who else would I be that kind of guy with? I’ve never met (Tom) Brady yet, so Brady would probably be one of those guys. But that’s kind of where I’m at. I’m more into the sports world than anywhere else. No politics. Movie stars? Not really.
5. In an effort to show they are health-conscious, NASCAR offers the No. 1 pit stall selection for an upcoming race to the first driver willing to go vegan for a month. Would you do it?
If it was for more than one week.
Just for one race.
No. No, no. I haven’t won enough poles in my career that I think that’s mattered — where I’ve ever won a race because I had the No. 1 pit box. So, no, I wouldn’t swap.
6. It’s time for the Random Race Challenge. I have picked a random race from your career and you have to guess where you finished.
Fantastic. This ought to be good. So you give me clues?
No, I’m just going to ask you. I have some information about the race, but I don’t remember it, either. Where did you finish in the 2016 July New Hampshire Cup race?
Spring New Hampshire of 2016… uh, let’s see. Last year was 2017, so the year before that, July… spring… I’m gonna go with fourth.
It was actually eighth.
Was that the one where I had two speeding penalties? I didn’t remember if it was that race or if it was last year’s spring race that I had two speeding penalties.
I’m not sure. You led 133 laps. You started second. And something must have happened. Matt Kenseth won. That’s all I know. I just went and looked at Racing Reference.
Well leading 133 laps of 300, that means I was up front a lot of the day and I probably threw it away at the end. So yeah, it sounds like the one where I sped twice on pit road. (Editor’s note: After looking it up, that was last year’s July New Hampshire race.)
7. Who is the best rapper alive?
Oh man. This is like asking who the best President ever was. You get in a lot of trouble with fans these days and whose opinion matters most, which none of them do.
My favorite of all time, which I’ve always listened to, has been Eminem. I enjoy listening to Eminem and kind of hearing what his take is. Obviously, he’s kind of graphic sometimes and a little bit dirty or whatever. But I know a little about Tupac. He’s obviously really good.
You know who the guy to ask this question would be? Mark Martin. Mark Martin would absolutely know for sure who the best rapper is. So if you can get in front of Mark, he’ll be able to tell you that.
8. Who has the most punchable face in NASCAR?
Every single one of them.
9. NASCAR enlists three famous Americans to be involved with your team for one race as part of a publicity push: Taylor Swift, LeBron James and Tom Hanks. Choose one to be your crew chief, one to be your spotter and one to be your motorhome driver.
Tom Hanks is used to being alone (in Castaway), so he can be the motorhome driver. He’d probably find his own Wilson somehow.
LeBron seems to be pretty good at playmaking, play-calling, things like that, so I’d say he’d be the best at being the crew chief.
And I guess it wouldn’t be so bad to listen to Taylor on the radio all day long being your spotter, but I can always turn that one down — or off.
Do you ever turn your spotter down?
I don’t remember where it was or what year it was, maybe it was (former spotter Jeff) Dickerson, and he was just talking so much. I don’t really remember what was wrong, maybe I was going backward and we just sucked and we were just fading and he was always just telling me, “Car inside, inside,” or whatever and I was like, “I’ve got it! Just shut up! I don’t need your help anymore.” So I have told my spotters to shut up before. That’s when I’m in a bad mood going backward. Those things tend to happen.
10. What is the key to finding the best pre-race bathroom?
Two things: You have a good PR guy, and he kind of scopes it out a little bit, and you have a really good bus driver, and he’ll scope it out for you, too. And if you have a really, really, really good bus driver — which I do, mine’s the best out there — he’ll actually go by the john and kind of stand there and when you’re on your way up, watch where I’m coming and he won’t let anybody else in. Then I’ll have the one I can get into and not have to stand outside of it and wait.
We do need help at some of these racetracks if anybody’s listening, to get the port-o-johns on pit road. Like Indy, it’s kind of tight there, but man, there is nowhere to go to the bathroom. You have to go back in the pagoda, and you have to go to the second floor to go to the bathroom. That’s the only spot to go to the bathroom before the race at Indy!
Is there a line?
Yeah! Typically you’re waiting like three, four guys, and the NASCAR officials, they’re right there too because that’s race control, so they want to go to the bathroom. And there’s only two stalls, you know? So racetracks, we need some help with restrooms on pit lane, please.
11. NASCAR misses the highlight reel value brought by Carl Edwards’ backflips and decides a replacement is needed. How much money would they have to pay you to backflip off your car after your next win?
No, I’m not gonna answer that one. You can’t do that one. I would say who would be the best to do the Carl Edwards now, right?
Who would be?
Noah (Gragson), I think would be.
He can climb a fence.
Well, I think we can all climb a fence. He can also throw up, too. I think Noah would be the one that can probably get it figured out, I just don’t know how athletic he is. He seems to kind of be on that wild side, wild enough that he kind of wants to have something like that. So I would say Noah should be voted in for doing the backflip.
But as far as them writing a check, I don’t know. It would take a certain amount of money and I could probably figure out how to learn to do a backflip, but I’m not gonna say how much.
12. Each week, I ask a question given to me from the last interview. Last year, I ended the season interviewing Landon Cassill. He wanted me to ask: What is your driving style? Do you use a lot of brake? Do you get to the gas earlier than most?
Well, anybody can look at my style nowadays with the new data. Information’s gonna be available to everybody. They can pick and choose. I wish I had that when I was a rookie. I certainly wouldn’t have waited 13 years to win a championship. So that’s a whole other topic.
What’s my style like? Places you go, you’ve gotta be different. Some places you go, you’ve gotta drive into the corner hard and let it roll and let it get back out of the corner. Some places you go, you’ve gotta be rolling out nice and slow and easy and letting the thing kind of set and get into the corner nice and smooth, and then hammer the gas on exit. Other places you’ve gotta roll into the throttle on exit. It all depends on where you go.
Typically, for however many years, the saying has been, “Easy in, hard off.” So you kind of let it float in, get in there easy, get the tires all set, and then you mash the gas and try to drive out of the corner really, really hard and strong and get a good run down the straightaways. The straightaways are your friend, especially when you have good horsepower under the hood. That’s the time in which you cannot lose or gain as much ground to the rest of your competitors.
Interesting. I might use that for video games or something.
Yeah, video games for sure. Easy in, hard off on video games. No question. You cannot drive it too far into the corner in a video game; it just doesn’t work.
Do you have a question I can ask the next person?
With life on the road so much, how do you balance your travel and your motorhome and where you eat and whether you go out to eat or whether you cook in? How do you balance what you feel like you want to do on a given weekend? Is it because you go to a cool town like Las Vegas that you’re gonna eat out every night, or is it BFE nowhere, somewhere like Pocono or Loudon, whatever, and you’re gonna stay in and just cook out? How do you balance all that?
Kyle Busch 12 Questions interviews through the years: