Kurt Busch Open Interview – Texas

Friday, Nov. 5, 2010

Kurt Busch Open Interview

AAA Texas 500

American Muscle

Texas Motor Speedway


KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU GUYS (TEAM) TO FINISH SEVENTH OR HIGHER? “If you’re the champions, it’s obviously the best spot. When you’re second to 10th, that’s the other segment and if you’re 11th or 12th, you’re a couple of odd men out. We hope that we’re able to improve our point’s position. It’s just a feather in the cap or a statistic to look at when you look back at it over the years and see that I finished seventh rather than 12th. That’s something that we’re pushing for and right now, we have to worry about the present which is to finish off these final three races strong. We also have to look forward to the future at Penske Racing, with what we can do these next three races to give us better direction for where we need to start in 2011. We have the new nose that was announced today with Dodge and Penske working together to help end this conclusion with the drag versus downforce and the look of the nose and I’m excited about what that brings us. We’ll get it into the wind tunnel here shortly and get it on the cars and into testing. You’ve got to worry about the final three races and worry about the future at the same time.”

DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW THE NEW NOSE WILL HELP YOU? “I’ve seen positive remarks and others where it’s a step back. With the shape of it in general and how it looks, I’m excited about that because it looks more like what our cars need to look like. Where still not to where the Nationwide cars are. Those cars look great, that’s how our Dodge Challenger looks out on the track. You’ve got the Ford Mustang; I don’t know what happened to Chevy and why they didn’t do the Camaro. Those are cars that we need to have out on the race track representing our sport and that our fans can relate too and get back to that old cliché of ‘Win on Sunday’s and sell on Monday.’ This new nose, we’ll see how it shakes out. We have our fist test with it down at Daytona on December 8th and 9th, doing the tire test, checking out the banking. We’ll have the new nose on it then.”

HOW HAS YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH STEVE ADDINGTON EVOLVED THIS SEASON? “I feel we were on the same page right away with just the way that we talked about cars, our approach seemed to mesh well – what was important and what we needed to work on and long-term, short-term scenarios. As we’ve gotten into the Chase, that was a great achievement for both of us. The way that we swept the Charlotte races back in May was huge, not just for the team, but for him to settle in at Penske Racing and feel like his was carrying his weight. It’s been a great year. We look for more in these next three races. But we know that we have some work to do to get our program back around and competing for top-fives each week. We just can’t expect it to happen. We need to work on it together. It’s just easy to be on the same page with Steve because we’re both up front with one another.”

WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE 2004 STRETCH DRIVER, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT THAT WAS LIKE? “It’s amazing what the Chase format does to the nerves and to the teams and the drivers. I remember Jack Roush’s famous speech before the Homestead week and that was, ‘We have to prepare to fail.’ I’m looking at him going, ‘This is the speech being given before we head to Homestead? I’m confused.’

“There are so many emotions and so many different thoughts. Nine weeks can turn into nine months or these nine or 10 weeks can turn into nine or 10 days. It’s amazing how it all happens and when you’re in that groove that (Jimmie) Johnson’s been in, like I was in ’04, it seems like everything just clicks. There’s nothing that you second guess. You’re always in the right groove and you never have to look back. You just keep looking forward at what the next task is.”

WAS THE 1992 NASCAR FINISH THE BEST STRETCH RUN OF RACES IN NASCAR HISTORY? “I remember that I was glued to the TV. It was a Ford year that year, watching Davey Allison, Alan Kulwicki, and Bill Elliott going to Atlanta to duke it out. The way that those three had a shot at the championship is, in a sense, what our Chase format is. If ’92 is considered the best year ever and here we are in the Chase era, why can’t the Chase be accepted? That’s what I’m still trying to figure out. We want to have as many guys eligible for the championship going to that last race at Homestead. That year in ’04, when I won (the championship), there were five guys mathematically eligible for the championship. That’s what we want to see every year and we have a great shot at it this year with the three guys that have separated themselves. Over the years in general, it’s been a two-horse race coming to the end. But ’92 sticks out and ’04 sticks out for sure.”

IS IT STARTING TO SINK IN THAT YOU ONLY HAVE THREE RACES LEFT DRIVING THE NO. 2 CAR? “It’s bitter sweet. It’s tough to jump out of the car and think that these are my last few races. To know the opportunity with Shell/Pennzoil and jumping over to the 22 car next year, race fans have been really supportive. I even saw a guy at Sam Hornish’s bowling tournament last night with a homemade Pennzoil hat on, getting ready for next year. But we still have some things to accomplish with the Blue Deuce and that’s to go out as best as we can with this Chase and the possibility of winning in these last three weeks. We talked with the guys in Milwaukee about doing something special for the final race, but really, it’s just amazing driving the car and feeling the reputation that it has. They were big shoes to fill when I jumped in and took over for Rusty (Wallace). I was just starting to feel comfortable in those shoes and the change came about this year. When business deals come up like that and Roger Penske is asking you to do something, you’ve got to go with Roger. Brad will take care of the car. He’s a young guy. He’s 26-years-old and eager to win. That’s the legacy of that car, to win and be up front every week.”

WHAT WOULD A NATIONWIDE TITLE MEAN TO ROGER PENSKE? “That’s definitely an interesting situation because Brad has to finish 21st of better this weekend, but I hope that he keeps his eye on the bigger picture and that’s to bring Roger the team championship; we’re behind on that. I’m not sure how many points we are (behind), maybe 80? A lot of people are saying, ‘OK, Brad’s going to win the championship this weekend,’ but that’s for the driver’s side of it. We really have to take a step back and take a look. Roger doesn’t quite have that championship trophy sitting on his desk yet until the end of Homestead because those Gibbs guys are putting up a battle for it. It’s interesting. I hope Brad is able to go out there and do his best job for the team the next three weeks because he’s definitely a shoe-in for the championship. I want him to focus in on the Penske side of it.”

HOW DO YOU DEFINE THE LINES THAT A TEAMMATE HAS IN HELPING ANOTHER TEAMMATE WIN A RACE? “The way that I’ve always looked at teammates is the fact that if we’re there working together, the whole program is going to do better. The philosophy that I’ve lived by, I don’t know if it was just an unwritten rule that we had at Roush Racing and that I have at Penske Racing – you’re there to help each other, but you’re there to race each other. I guess the quote is that we work together six days a week and we go race on the seventh. We’re racers. We all want to win at the end of the day.”

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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