"He didn't mind it too bad," Kyle says of Kurt's reaction to the move. "He basically said, 'It's your career. Basically you're either going to screw it up or you're going to make it better for yourself.' He just put it all in my hands and my dad did too. My dad said, 'Hey, if you want this Roush deal, you can have it. Or if you want this Hendrick deal, you can have it. It doesn't matter to me.' Basically, everybody just put it on me and I made the decision as to what I wanted to do, and so far I think everything has worked out 300 times better than I could have ever imagined it.
"You know, it's like Brian Vickers said, you race for your parents, it's a family operation and you're all real close. Sometimes you get into arguments and this and that or whatever, but you still have the family relationship to it, and you don't know if you can find that anywhere else. But here at the Hendrick organization-and Brian will back me up on this-it's way better than anyone could have imagined."
Way better, as in less than five years after turning his first competitive lap as a driver, Kyle Busch aligned with one of the top organizations in all of racing. Way better, as in driving for a championship team in his first full season in the Busch Series.
"It's not really intimidating," he says of his position. "Everybody sees what type of an organization it is. It's a championship winning team, so everybody thinks it should be pretty easy to go out and do it again. But we're not going to set our goals that high. We're just going to go out and try to do the best that we can and try to finish every lap, try to finish in the top 10, top 5, stuff like that. We're not really out there to go for the championship right off the bat. I'm going to be in my rookie year, and basically we'll just set our goals to livable ones and try to go out and strive for what we can."
So far, even this early in the season, Kyle Busch has accomplished one goal-he's no longer just Kurt Busch's younger brother.
Taking A Stand
As a driver in the Craftsman Truck Series and Busch Series over the past few seasons, Ricky Hendrick had moderate success, at best. As a team owner, he has a golden touch.
Whenever Ricky decided to forego his driving career to become primarily a team owner for Hendrick Motorsports, he had a decision to make: Who would drive the No. 5 Chevrolet he had vacated in the Busch Series? Veteran drivers Ron Hornaday and David Green had filled in admirably during the '02 season after Ricky injured a shoulder and had to give up driving for a while before finally retiring as a driver. But Ricky and his father, Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, both wanted a young driver for the '03 season.