Kurt Busch Open Interview

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Operation Home Front/Miller Lite Dodge Charger)

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON COMING BACK TO AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY? HOW WAS TODAY’S FIRST PRACTICE? “It’s great to be back on the West Coast. Growing up in Las Vegas, it was always fun to come to Southern California whether it was for vacation or racing. Racing at Irwindale Speedway, Mesa Marin up in Bakersfield, Southern California has always been high on my list. It’s a great race track here. I’ve had a chance to win a race in the Truck and Cup Series.

“The way that everything shook out for us in practice, we had some suspension components that we were working on and trying to science out some stuff. The race track here just gets rougher and rougher and presents a tougher challenger every time that we come back as far as how we can get our front end compliance to get the grip that we need out on the track. So far, so good. We’ll see how things go.”

American Muscle

WHY ARE WE SEEING MORE RETALIATION BY DRIVERS? IS IT A CONCERN? “I think we’ve had it all along at the bigger race tracks, there’s just more focus on it this year with the guys not having to look over their back and having NASCAR make a call. The decision of ‘boys have at it’ means everywhere. We’ve let a couple weeks of retaliation go by. It seemed like just so that NASCAR wasn’t on you so hard. Now it’s more wide open and you don’t have to look over your shoulder.”

HOW DO YOU SEE YOURSELF POSITION FOR THE REST OF THE CHASE? WHAT ABOUT THE NEXT COUPLE OF RACES? “We’ve got a decent foundation of points built up. We’re in better position than we were last year after three races. What we need to happen, like at Kansas, we were running eighth or ninth and tried to short pit, had a bad pit stop and lost four positions. If we can turn that around, flip it the other way and take and eighth-place car and finished fifth with it, that’s what’s going to put us in position to win this championship. We just can’t have those little mistakes chewing away at points and losing them. We need to start gaining them.”

HAVE YOU STARTED TO NOTICE FEWER CAUTIONS THE LAST PART OF THE SEASON AND THE NUMBER OR GREEN FLAG RUNS ASSOCIATED WITH IT? HOW DIFFICULT IS IT WHEN THERE ARE MORE GREEN-FLAG STOPS? “It’s good to get into that green-flag rhythm. I think that it helps a team like ours with just knowing what lap you’re going to pit on and getting the guys ready to jump over the wall to pit. I try to communicate with Steve Addington as much as I can at the beginning of the run to let him know the car is doing and then shortly before we pit. Green flag pit stops, you can lose a lot of time and positions as well as gain them, if the driver gets into pit road cleanly and smoothly. When you’re on pit road during a green-flag stop, it’s rare that cars are around you and guys can really blitz off a fast pit stop time because you don’t have to worry about other guys running into them. It’s a nice difference when you have green-flag sessions.”

WHAT DOES IT SAY FOR PENSKE RACING TO BE THE ONLY DODGE TEAM RACING IN CUP AND NATIONWIDE, YET HAVE A SHOT AT WINNING BOTH CHAMPIONSHIPS? “It’s a true testament to everyone who works at Penske Racing. They’re doing a great job and everyone is pushing hard. It’s just not on the NASCAR side; we had a legitimate shot at winning the IRL title too. We just came up a bit shy. It seemed like just a bit of lack of experience that Will (Power) had on some of the ovals. Again, the cars were prepared well. Everybody was upbeat about it. Last month, we were at a team luncheon with all of our teams there and we were saying, ‘Hey, we’ve got a shot at three championships.’ We missed out on one. We still have a great shot at the Nationwide, that’s our best shot, and we’re right in the mix too. I’m proud of our car carrying the Dodge banner, there’s a lot of responsibility in that, but we’re doing a great job doing it as independents.”

FOR A SHORT TRACK, WHY DOES MARTINSVILLE CREATE SO MANY PROBLEMS? “It’s just the fact that you can let off the brake pedal going into a corner and dump somebody. You’re on the competition all the time and there’s no room for error. The spacing is so tight that positions can change quickly and if you have bad pit stop at a Martinsville-style track, it can be really difficult to work your way back up front.”

BETWEEN TALLADEGA AND MARTINSVILLE, WHICH ONE IS MORE FRUSTRATING FOR YOU? “I would say Martinsville is for me. I feel like I’ve just struggled at Martinsville over the years versus Talladega.”

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com.


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