Kurt Busch Open Interview – Martinsville

Friday, Oct. 22, 2010

Denny Darnell

Scott Sebastian

CarParts.com
American Muscle

Kurt Busch Open Interview

TUMS Fast Relief 500

Martinsville Speedway

www.media.chrysler.com

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Operation Home Front/Miller Lite Dodge Charger) WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS HEADING INTO MARTINSVILLE THIS WEEKEND? “I thought it was a good practice session for us. It was based off of some things that we learned off of a short track test about a month ago that we feel are similar to Martinsville Speedway. This place is very unique. It’s a very tough race track. It’s one of those tough circuits for me, where I’ve struggled over the years. Each time that I come back, I’m anxious and eager for a better run than I’ve had previously. When you have a tough track that’s going to challenge you, that’s where I like to step it up and make it a good track. Practice was OK for us. It’s just really tight in qualifying; one-hundredth of a second will be the difference between a few spots. That’s just the way it is with the tough competition in Sprint Cup. We’re just trying to make some things special the last races of the season, the last carrying the “Blue Deuce” and the Miller Lite Dodge.”

WHAT’S YOUR PERSPECTIVE ON WHAT YOU CAN GAIN BACK IN THE LAST FIVE RACES? “There’s the top three that have separated themselves and then there’s the group of cars from fourth to 10th, 11th, 12th. Anything can happen with points. We had a loose wheel here (in the spring race) and lost two positions and finished in the 30s in April. That can happen at any given time out on the race track. Short track racing, you know how quick the action can happen. Next week at Talladega, the high-speed restrictor plate battle where the draft comes into play, anything can happen at any given time. You don’t wish badly upon anybody else. You want to go out there and race them fair and hard. We’re just starting to get too far behind to compete for that championship spot, so now we’ll just go out and get the most that we can each and every week.”

TALK ABOUT THE IMPORTANT OF CONCISE COMMUNICATON WITH YOUR CREW CHIEF?

“It’s always a matter of being on the same page. When you feel like you’re not on the same page, you have to come clean and admit what you’re thinking or why you decided to do that. It’s always important to know what the other individual is thinking in the process. The crew chief is the head coach and the driver is the quarterback. I see things out on the track; he sees things out on the track from on top of the pit box. It’s the same things as being in the pocket or on the sideline; you just have to know what game plan you have and how to adjust around it for the day. A place like Martinsville is different than Talladega. That process changes each and every week depending on what track we have to attack.”

WHO’S GOING TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP?

“That’s what makes this Chase exciting, the fact that every week you’re getting close and closer to the end which is less opportunity to gain points on guys. What I’d like to see is these three guys battle and somebody else jump in there all the way down to Homestead. The atmosphere of as many guys as possible having a shot at it at Homestead is what the Chase was created to do. Back in 2004, we had five guys that had a shot at it (winning the championship) mathematically. If I had to throw down a choice on this year’s Chase, am I sentimentally rooting for the Shell/Pennzoil car? Maybe I am.”

GOING INTO 2011, HOW MANY CHANGES DOES YOUR TEAM NEED TO MAKE TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP? WHAT CHANGES DO YOU NEED TO MAKE?

“We’ve got an interesting scenario right now. With our tough result from last week and where we are with the point’s situation, we need to worry about the future and keep the present intact. Whether its personnel changes at the end of the year, trying a different chassis configuration, we’ve got quite a few things to do the next few weeks to help us find a solid direction for 2011. We won’t do anything dramatic. Roger (Penske) is one that thinks things through and likes to analyze every situation. I like the next few weeks for us with the Charlotte tire test. I think that we’re going to go back to the old Rockingham and run some more laps. We’ve got a good track like Texas coming up with Phoenix and Homestead finishing off the season. Those are good tracks for us as well. We need to throw something just a little bit different at the program and see what we can make up for 2011 because right now, we’re sitting ninth in points and our chances of winning the championship are slim. Let’s worry about the future as well as take care of the present.”

PUT INTO PERSPECTIVE WHAT JIMMIE JOHNSON HAS BEEN ABLE TO DO THE LAST FIVE YEARS?

“Their ability to overcome hurdles during the race is what separates them from everybody else. At the beginning of the Charlotte race last week, he spins out all on his own off of Turn 2, an ill-handling race car. They work on it and end up with a top five. We had the same scenario at Charlotte with a race winning setup that won the race in May and we limped home to a 30th-place finish. That’s not going to cut it to win championships. What wins championships is what the 48 team does and that’s overcome those hurdles each and every week. It’s amazing how they do it. There’s no written way to do it. It’s just that they’re able to…Chad Knaus is, Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick, that whole program. Just when you think you’ve got them, they do something out of the world again to put themselves on top.”

WITH THE SUCCESS OF KESELOWSKI THIS YEAR IN NATIONWIDE WITH THE NEW CAR, HAS THERE BEEN A COORDINATED EFFORT BETWEEN PENSKE’S NATIONWIDE AND CUP PROGRAMS?

“That’s been a very good program for us this year, that Nationwide new car. There were a lot of questions going in. Brad was actually skeptical that it might take away from his (Nationwide) effort and it actually helped polish it up. The way that those front ends are setup on those Nationwide cars is how our Cup cars need to be. We need to be back off those bump stops. The front fascia and how it looks to make it more appealing. I would like to drive those cars right now in Cup and that would turn our program around on where we need to go. Everything that is wrong with our car is put into those Nationwide cars to make them more comfortable, more appealing and put on a better race. That’s what I hope we end up with for our Cup program here shortly.”

WHAT IS PENSKE’S LINEUP FOR NEXT YEAR?

“With our big changes on the 22 car, we’re going to be the Shell/Pennzoil No. 22 and Brad Keselowski will be in the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge. We’re still looking for sponsorship for Sam Hornish. On the Nationwide program, we’ll probably see a change on it. Brad will still be running full-time; I’m not sure what the plans are for the 12 in Nationwide. It’s just a matter of building the best quality cars that we can and making sure that our drivers are communicating at top levels to make our program stronger.”

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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