This Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth will bring about some pretty big changes for the No. 41 team. Starting this weekend, in preparation for the 2015 season, the mechanics, engineers and entire road crew for the No. 41 team will switch out with Danica Patrick’s team, and will now be led by crew chief Tony Gibson.
Busch is no longer in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship this year, but he hopes to finish the season with as many solid finishes as possible. And as Gibson enters the picture with three races left to go in the 2014 season, Busch and his new No. 41 Haas Automation team are working hard to get a jump-start on a successful run in 2015.
Read on for Busch’s thoughts on the switch and his mindset going into this weekend’s race.
Q: This weekend’s race at Texas will be your first working with crew chief Tony Gibson. Talk a little bit about that.
A: “I’m looking forward to Texas, first off, because it’s a track I’m very comfortable with. It’s a bread-and-butter type track for me. It fits my driving style. I go to Texas every race looking for a top-10 finish. But now I’m jumping in with Tony Gibson and making the crew change, so we’ll have to be patient with things. We’ll have to look at each of the sessions that we’re out on the racetrack and really move forward as a group with those first few steps being important, and not trying to go for that all-out win on the first weekend out of the box together. I’m looking forward to using what has been a good track for me toward working with a new team.”
Q: You have one Sprint Cup victory at Texas. What would it take for you to win there again?
A: “It’s being able to get that throttle-on time through the center of the corner and being able to leave it on the floor. You have to be able to jump on the gas early at Texas and make sure you’re able to leave it on the floor all the way around the corners.”
Q: Back to working with Tony Gibson this weekend – talk about expectations you have of working with him.
A: “There won’t be a question of respect or lack of confidence with Tony Gibson because I know he’s been around to do it and knows exactly what has to happen at each type of track. Until now, I’ve felt like I’ve worn a mentor hat or wore a hat of helping the crew chief understand the pitfalls he was going to experience this year. I’ve enjoyed it. I was hoping to build a consistency, and that’s what we didn’t get done. Winning a race and getting in the Chase, that wasn’t all that the 41 car was here to do. It’s to be competitive week-in and week-out and have consistent shots at winning. I’d consider the year a success, but there are certain areas we can look at that we did what we wanted to, and there are certain areas that we looked at that we know we can do a better job.”
Q: Why make this change now rather than finish out the season and start fresh for 2015?
A: “With the testing ban that’s being imposed for 2015, it makes sense for us to make this change now and get ahead of that. While there will be numerous rule changes that will change many facets of the package that we’ll have to race with next season, making this change now gives myself and Danica a couple of weeks to get a baseline established with our new teams. Making this move beginning at Texas will help myself and Tony Gibson establish a good sense of communication – for me to be able to communicate to him what I need out of my racecar, and for him to be able to anticipate the direction to go with changes.”