February 6, 2022
Los Angeles, California, USA
An Interview with:
Q. I wanted to ask you obviously NASCAR trying to expand into Los Angeles, explore this market a little bit more. What do you feel the show you put on today can kind of demonstrate to new fans in this market, hopefully open some kind of eyes?
AUSTIN DILLON: I think that's a big part of coming out here to L.A. I heard before the race that 70% of the ticket sales were to new fans. I think that's huge. Any time we can grow our sport exponentially like that, it's giant. We want to keep growing and bring everybody in as we can.
Q. Kyle, can you give me a sense of what you felt in the term of the energy or atmosphere before the race, before you got focused or so focused you didn't notice it? How did that compare to some other places?
KYLE BUSCH: I thought it was great. I don't know if it had anything to do with the stadium aspect. There's fans coming from this way, this way, this way. It's not a mile-and-a-half where it's right there. You definitely had more of a roar.
I felt like during the national anthem, she did a great job singing it and all the fans were amped up on that. Then that was over. Then it is fly-over. It was really electric. Really cool to hear that. It was definitely noticeable from my vantage point.
There was a rowdy group in turn two. They were having a good old time over there (smiling). I think they were entertained.
Q. What did you think of the halftime break?
KYLE BUSCH: For us it was fine, good, take a second. The tires were smoked after about 75 laps right there, so they were about to go off in the first half. I pushed mine a little bit harder in the second half. They burned off.
Definitely was warranted. I felt like that was actually a really good distance. They hit right on that also for a race as such.
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, I think it was a perfect amount of laps. I think any more than that you would have had to change your setup for the long haul more because you're right there on air pressure trying to make it fire off so you can get in line or go low and just try and manage it for a couple laps, be better at the end.
I think we all probably thought there were going to be more cautions at the end. Or like Kyle said, you get it right on the edge of that right rear tire, you're done.
Q. Coming into the L.A. market, what do you think it means for the sport to come in a building with such a rich history?
KYLE BUSCH: I'm going to argue the question here. We've been in L.A. since 1997. I think that gets forgotten about.
I love California Speedway. Fontana is a great racetrack. It's a little outside of town, a little spread out with the two-mile racetrack. Us drivers enjoy going out there and racing at higher speeds like that. Let's not forget that, please.
Coming into L.A., if that's how you want to term it, I felt like it was a huge success. I thought it was a huge chance, Ben Kennedy and the guys at NASCAR, if this didn't work, it was going to be ugly.
I'm sure they're taking a huge sigh of relief and a big high five because it was a big success.
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, I agree.
Sports history, it's cool when you come down, the Olympics, the torch. I took a picture under the peristyle. I took a picture of that.
KYLE BUSCH: What's the number on the right side of that mean? There's a clock on one side. What is the number on the other side? It is not 50 degrees (laughter).
KYLE BUSCH: Might be the water temperature of the pool outside.
AUSTIN DILLON: Very cool with the sports history. I'm a huge sports buff. That's cool.
Q. This kind of felt like the start of a new era for the sport with the Next Gen car here at the Coliseum. A lot of changes to the schedule the last couple years. Are you content with the way the Cup Series schedule looks or does this car represent the opportunity to do things that we can't even imagine or think of right now? What could those things be? Should we be doing more innovative things?
AUSTIN DILLON: I think we're doing our job right now. It's pretty innovative. We're doing some cool stuff that brings you back to your short track days. The format of this was nice. Not a whole lot of practice. You had to come here, do it, qualify, race. That type of stuff brings you back to your Saturday night short track. Get to the track, get a little bit of practice, heat race, race, enjoy it.
That was cool. I think that's great. As long as we don't jump these things, I'm good (smiling).
KYLE BUSCH: I did that recently (laughter).
Q. I noticed something throughout all the races is the handling of the cars, leaning on each other, people are staying on the throttle. You're able to steer out of that a lot. What is it about that that you guys aren't spinning around like we've seen in other tracks in the past?
KYLE BUSCH: I don't know what exactly it is really. I don't know if the old car would have been applicable for this track. I say that because the tire is skinnier on that car, got a solid rear-end axle housing in it, so you wheel hop getting into the turns. The turning radius of that car, it definitely would not have put on a show that this car does. This car is definitely different.
We're still learning it for sure. You go to the mile-and-a-half's, you get into a 15-, 20-lap run, and you're sideways loose hanging on at times. You get too crooked and they spin because you don't have the side force like our old cars on them. Just wait. There's a lot more to go.
AUSTIN DILLON: I would agree. I think this worked out perfect for the car. I agree with him, too, on the old car, probably wouldn't have turned ever. It would have been tough to make it work here.
Yeah, it was perfect for this.
Q. Austin, Tyler broke his transaxle when he hit the clutch trying to warm up his tires.
AUSTIN DILLON: We went over this, Bob.
Q. Were you worried about it?
AUSTIN DILLON: The guys warned me about it. He was pretty aggressive all weekend on getting heat in his tires. He did a good job of that. I just feel like once they told me, I was already aware of it, but I wasn't spinning my tires with the clutch. I waited till the rpm came up, really hammer it instead of dropping the clutch to make it happen. I kind of got lucky, I guess, but I was never really that aggressive.
14 had that happen, too, correct?
Q. (No microphone.)
AUSTIN DILLON: Might have to look at the parts, too.
Q. Obviously today was a much smaller track than you're used to. How different is the approach going into this a race like this?
KYLE BUSCH: The teams I think is the biggest thing, obviously, just car setup, what you can do with the car to make it drive well here, make the tight radius of the turn versus anywhere else really. Even Martinsville, I think it's probably pretty different than.
For me, I'm sure guys are sure that got out there on iRacing, got a look at it. I just looked at a couple videos of the track, what it looked like, a couple iRacing thing. I don't think they had the iRacing thing figured out. It was a bit of a cluster there.
Felt like coming in here off of the truck we were okay. Made good speed right away. Even in our house, had a struggle. 19 was way off. Definitely some little, little things on the setup sheet can certainly make for a big difference on the track.
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, I feel like our simulator Chevy was really good. We spent some time on it. We were able to learn a little bit, bring it here, which was really nice.
Then, yeah, I watched Bowman Gray videos. Got to give a shout-out to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Bowman Gray. Probably only thing close to this.
Q. We're coming back here to Auto Club Speedway in a few weeks. There's speculation and uncertainty if that track is going to stay a two-mile track or be converted into a half-mile. As drivers, which would you prefer?
KYLE BUSCH: I think after what we saw today, the answer is probably yes (smiling). I would prefer the two mile, but I guarantee you it's getting cut up, no question, after what we saw today.
AUSTIN DILLON: Yeah, Kyle and I both know that Fontana is an awesome track. It's a driver's track. I mean, I think they'd have to go through a repave to keep it that way for these cars. They've already grinded it to nothing pretty much down the backstretch. Obviously this car puts on a good show at short tracks, so that's good.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports