Dodge Motorsports Notes & Quotes – Kurt Open Interview – Talladega 2

Friday, Oct. 29, 2010

Dodge Motorsports PR

Kurt Busch Open Interview
American Muscle

AMP Energy Juice 500

Talladega Superspeedway

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) A COUPLE DRIVERS WERE OVER 200 MPH IN THE DRAFT TODAY. DO YOU ANTICIPATE A TWO-CAR BREAKAWAY ON SUNDAY? “Yeah, there’s something about when two cars hook up with each other, they can really gain speed. The third car can’t keep up. It’s as if the air comes off the first car, clears that second car and lands straight on the third and slows it up. You’re going to see two-car breakaways. Whether you see it in the middle portion of the race or towards the end, there’s probably going to be two or three different groups of two-car tandems because that seems to be the magic number.”

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE PUSH DRAFT HERE AT TALLADEGA? “Talladega is just so wide and so generous that it really doesn’t challenge the setup as far as how much grip you have. You’re going to have plenty of grip, so it’s easy to draft and bump around pretty hard. You just hope that you have a smart guy behind you holding the wheel because if the guy behind isn’t connected to the guy in front properly, then big things can happen in a big way with somebody getting turned in front of the entire field. So we hope that things go smooth, yet in practice you have to be able to handle it. Everybody looked very stable and nobody was stepping out of line.”

IN 2004, DID YOU FEEL PRESSURE AND HOW DID YOU DEAL WITH IT? WILL JIMMIE JOHNSON FEEL PRESSURE? “This race (at Talladega) was earlier in the Chase schedule back in 2004. Now, it’s more towards the end. You have to always think that things can go wrong here; you just go in with the best attitude that you can have. This is the race where we were able to take over the point lead for the first time and never looked back. I believe Talladega is that big turning point in the Chase. You never know what can happen. If you survive this race, if you can come home with a good solid finish and you’re in the point lead or lead group, you don’t look back. You take off and run. Guys like (Jimmie) Johnson, (Kevin) Harvick, (Denny) Hamlin, those three have separated themselves and they want to stay out of trouble this weekend. They want to breathe a breath of fresh air afterwards, if they survive. Then they can attack the final three races because that’s what the Chase comes down to.”

“Can Johnson feel pressure? Of course and it’s up to others to do such. We’re too far behind. You have to have Hamlin in there, Harvick in there pushing hard and to make Johnson feel that he’s got some competition that he hasn’t had before. In ’04, we had the tightest Chase race; we had the most guys (still in the championship picture) going into the last four races. When you have more guys in the mix, there’s a lot more going on.”

DO YOU FEEL THE ‘HAVE AT IT BOYS’ MANTRA HAS BEEN POSITIVE THIS YEAR? “The racing action has just been better on the track. The times that you’ve seen great short-track racing or even the high speed superspeedways and mile-and-half tracks where you have chassis configuration versus aerodynamics, guys have challenged each other and raced hard and raced well. Yeah, some guys run into each other or bump here and there. Whether one guy gets spun out or ends up wrecked or it’s just good door-to-door, all of it has to be taken into consideration.

“Sometimes you get to the end of the year and you go, ‘All right, my slate is clean.’ You hope that you go down to Daytona with as many friends as you can find. You don’t really need to get together with others to see who’s on what side or who isn’t. It’s more or less every man for himself.”

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU STILL KEEP SCORE IN YOUR OWN HEAD? “I learned from the Honorable Jimmy Spencer on how to keep track of things over time. So yeah, you keep track of guys.”

WHO DO YOU DECIDE TO PAIR UP WITH DURING THE RACE FOR A TWO-CAR RUN? “That’s tough. With this new configuration car and Talladega, definitely two guys break away. That’s something Ryan Newman and I saw back in 2008 when we were teammates. We were practicing in practice how to do the move. Teams and different guys have seen their pattern with it and how long you can stay with it. You start to overheat if you stay behind somebody too long. I made a move last year to jump up in front of my future teammate Brad Keselowski and he ended up timing it just wrong to where I ended up in the inside fence and a big wreck started. That was with just a lap and a half to go. You have your final pit stop and after that, you digest who you’ve been running with all day. Who’s been good all day? Who can you trust? And who would you want to team up with on the frontside or backside of the two-car draft. It really happens after the last pit stop, but you’ve been taking notes all day.”

IS TE TYPE OF CAR NOT AS IMPORTANT IN CHOOSING A DRAFTING PARTNER? “Some guys just have the overall raw speed and those are the ones that push really well because they can carry a car that’s a little slower than them to that two-car speed and take off. If you have a mediocre car pushing you, it doesn’t seem to hook up as well.”

IS IT WEIRD TO THINK THAT ROGER HAS NEVER WON A NASCAR CHAMPIONSHIP YET? “Absolutely. It’s amazing to think that he hasn’t won one and that it can happen just around the corner. We’ve got to have Brad do even better than those Gibbs guys because (they) have the overall owner’s championship lead now where Brad has the driver’s championship lead. I hope that Brad wins it. I hope that he wraps it up at Texas next week. We still need to push hard for Roger to give him his championship. It would be really odd that Brad would win it (driver’s championship) and not get the owner’s championship brought home.”

DO YOU CHOOSE A DRAFTING PARTNER BASED OFF THE RACE ON SUNDAY OR OTHER FACTORS? “It comes down to the day’s events; who’s got the fastest car that day. You put those guys in a category of who you’ve run well with in the past. A guy like Kasey Kahne right now, you look for him in the 9 car and he isn’t there, he’s in the 83. Are those guys up to speed with their program on that 83 to draft with? We’ll see on Sunday. A guy like Kasey, I’ve always drafted well with. Right now, I don’t know if he has the normal package in the 83 car.”

A LARGE MAJORITY OF GUYS (40%) HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN CRASHES HERE AT TALLADEGA, IS THAT ACCEPATBLE? “That’s what makes our sport exciting and fun to enjoy. The excitement level that is part of restrictor-plate racing, it’s the Russian roulette atmosphere. ‘Hey, is my number going to get pulled today. Am I going to survive?’ That’s the whole Talladega atmosphere. Daytona will fit into that next year when it has fresh asphalt and we’re all bunched up in tighter packs. Daytona used to separate a bit and handling was more of an issue. It’s just part of the game. I’ve said that this is the toughest race in the Chase because you can’t predict what’s going to happen. You don’t know how to avoid the big one. And this is that wild card. That’s what wild cards do; they create statistics that don’t match other tracks.”

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


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