Notebook: Busch made 'one mistake' in Chase

Jay Hart
Yahoo! SportsJanuary 22, 2009

What happened to Joe Gibbs Racing at the end of 2008? Does Tony Stewart think he can contend for a title in 2009? And why did Mark Martin decide to come back?

Those were just a few questions answered during the annual media tour in Charlotte, N.C.

Here are some of the highlights so far:


Joe Gibbs, on what went wrong for his team at the end of the 2008 season:



"There were five different things we felt like we needed to go to work on. We have kind of been working real hard in five different areas and so that was kind of the result of what we thought happened."

What are the five areas?

"I'm not telling you what the five areas are. I'm afraid someone else might be working on it."

If you thought Kyle Busch imploded during the 2008 Chase, think again. Here are his thoughts on the '08 Chase:

"I made one mistake in the Chase. That was my speeding on pit road at Lowe's. We still finished fourth that night; I was able to bounce back from it. Anywhere else, mechanical issues took us out."

Does he envision getting out of the box in 2009 as fast as he did in 2008?

"I think it's going to be less likely that we repeat that first half with the way the competition has picked up and the way everybody has learned this car. I think it's capable to run strong and to run up front and finish top five every week. To have that, you've got to have some sort of luck on your side. If you have a lot you can win races. There is just a lot of luck in this game."




Tony Stewart, on whether he thinks he can be a title contender this year:

"I think it's realistic. We wouldn't have taken this opportunity if we didn't think it was realistic to be in the Chase and have a shot at winning races and winning the championship. Now whether that happens or not obviously will wait to be seen. We feel like we have the tools in place to do that."


Mark Martin, on why he's coming back to full-time racing:

"I could sit on the couch or I could drive this No. 5 car. There's nothing else in the world I'd rather do than to be behind the wheel of this No. 5 car and doing this.

"I know that there is nothing else out there that will take the place of racing a great race car and working with a great race team. That time for me is limited and I'm so grateful to have the opportunity to do this at this stage. It's just unbelievable for me to get this chance. I know what I want to do. I was a little apprehensive about driving the full schedule, but I darn sure knew I wanted to drive that No. 5 car. This was what it took to make it work and I'm thrilled. This is what I want to be doing."

Jeff Gordon, on how confident he is going into 2009:



"I'm more confident in what I'm capable of doing and what our team is capable of doing than I've ever been. Those first couple of years, especially 1995, I didn't go into that season thinking we were going to win a championship. I had no idea we were going to be that strong and have that kind of a year. The performances pretty much set the tone of what we were capable of that year. And I've always kind of done it that way."

And finally, does Jimmie Johnson think four in a row is possible?

"I know it's crazy and in theory I thought about it. It would be great to win four in row, but there's so much racing between now and then. When we started the season last year we struggled. [We] really had to fight through some things to get our car sorted out. Today I'm sitting here, I have great feelings. I know this team is capable of winning races and a fourth championship. We have to get to the track and get to work and see where we fit. I'm extremely optimistic, but the Chase is so far away."