Kurt Busch Open Interview — Homestead-Miami

Friday, Nov. 19, 2010

Dodge Motorsports PR

Homestead-Miami Speedway

CarParts.com
American Muscle

Ford 400

Kurt Busch Open Interview

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

www.media.chrysler.com

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON DRIVING THE NO. 2 MILLER LITE DODGE FOR THE LAST TIME THIS WEEKEND AT HOMESTEAD? “Yeah, it’s been a great run. It’s tough to see it come to an end, driving the Blue Deuce. It’s been a privilege to drive the car and carry on the legacy that Rusty Wallace started. Just when I started to feel comfortable in his shoes that he left me, we had to make a change. When a sponsor requests to have you drive their car, it’s really a unique opportunity with Shell/Pennzoil coming aboard and requesting me to drive their car. It’s really neat to have a sponsor want you in this day and age and go out there to compete for wins and championships, the whole deal. That’s what we’ll have to do and I hope we start off strong next year down in Daytona. It’s been a great ride with the Blue Deuce. A bunch of wins; I think the biggest of my five-year stint driving the car is probably winning the All-Star race this year and backing it up with the Coke 600. As they say, all good things must come to an end. It’s been a great group to work with in Milwaukee. Great friendships. Good people. I’ve got enough contacts to still have some beer delivered to the house, so that will work out pretty good as well.”

AS A FORMER CHASE CHAMPION, WHAT ARE THE THREE GUYS ELIGIBLE TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP GOING THROUGH THIS WEEKEND? “The atmosphere that the Chase was supposed to be all about is right here, unfolding in front of us. In 2004, it was a storybook of how you write the Chase. And so these guys are definitely feeling the pressure. Every lap that you make out on the track and in practice, the intense focus is there. Those three guys are worrying themselves to death. It’s just part of the nature of how you go into the Chase…basically where it’s heads-up. If Hamlin finishes in front of the 48, he’s the champion. If the 48 finishes in front of the 11, he’s the champion. The way that I raced it back in ’04, I didn’t care that I had an 18-point lead. I just said I had to finish ahead of those guys and beat them heads-up. As luck turned out, we needed those 18 points because (Jimmie Johnson) finished second and we were fifth. Those guys are racing each other heads-up and Harvick has nothing to lose; he’s going for broke because he can’t finish worse than third in points. It’s interesting to see the three of them going at it. If I had to pick a favorite, I would go with Hamlin. His car, his team has just had more speed than the rest of the group.”

YOU’LL BE AT ROCKINGHAM FOR THE POLAR BEAR 150. WHY DO YOU PARTICIPATE IN THE EVENT AND WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT GOING BACK TO ROCKINGHAM?

”We race car drivers are crazy. With how long the season is and how we look forward to the end of the year, the first thing we do is go and jump back in a race car. I’m excited and just want to go have fun. It’s that grassroots feel of when I first started racing in Street Stock back in 1996. It’s what I’m looking forward to, go out there and just kind of rough it – change some springs around, some sway bars, just get dirty and get in the mix with all the great street racers that have come to compete at this Polar Bear 150 and to do it at Rockingham. We’re taking street stock cars that are supposed to be on half-mile tracks and we’re going to a mile race track with it. I hear that it’s really close to wide open all the way around. It’s going to be excited. It’s going to be fun. I only have one full-time employee who works on race cars for me and a bunch of volunteers. It reminds me of the old school days when you just go out there and have some fun with it.”

IS IT POSSIBLE FOR PENSKE RACING TO HAVE A BREAKOUT SEASON NEXT YEAR?

“We hope that we find the right tools necessary to find the speed that we need. Yeah, we’re competitive, but we need to be better. Right now, it’s just a process of working around the clock to find different chassis designs, chassis setups, and aerodynamic changes. You name it; we’re searching high and low. With us being as competitive as we were this year and winning a couple of races, I still just felt like we weren’t where we needed to be in the Chase. It’s been a tough Chase. Overall, just the improvements made these last few weeks give us that indication that next year could be a break-out year.”

WHAT DID YOU DO TO HELP BRAD THIS YEAR? HOW MUCH WAS HE ABLE TO HELP YOU?

“It was great to work with Brad. He’s got that youthful exuberance about him where he’s on the gas all the time. He was very focused on his Nationwide program and it’s great to see him put that all together and a championship effort. I congratulate him and our group on what they’ve done and accomplished. Now we need to get him in the Cup car with that same mindset where he’s just completely focused on it and he’s getting faster and faster with the more experience that he gains. It was nice to work with him and see what he thinks about certain race tracks and how he approaches things. Anytime that you have a stronger teammate, it makes your program better. I’m really looking forward to him feeling more comfortable in his second season. That way we can definitely lean on each other harder and competing where we’re racing each other hard every week. Right now, it’s been I’ve had a solid run and they’ve been struggling a bit.”

YOUR ONE OF ONLY TWO DRIVERS TO HAVE BEATEN JIMMIE JOHNSON IN THE CHASE. WHAT ADVICE CAN YOU GIVE JIMMIE, KEVIN AND DENNY?

“Yeah, 2004 was a perfect Hollywood ending and they way that our season went and came down here to the final race. I think those guys need to race each other heads-up. You can’t expect to finish a couple of spots behind and hang on to the championship. You’re going to have to race them heads-up, that’s the way that I approached it. We even got the opportunity when things unfolded for us in our championship run that afternoon when we pitted with (Jimmie) Johnson. They were the target. No matter what they did, we did. That’s the approach and advice I’d give.”

HOW OFTEN DO YOU PONDER THE INCIDENT ON PIT ROAD IN 2004 WHEN YOU HAD THE TIRE ISSUE?

“It’s amazing how that whole day unfolded for us. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. The way that it all worked out, I can’t remember if we had the lucky dog back then, I don’t think that we did. So, we would have had to race our way back on the lead lap and that would have made it that much more difficult. But we had one key factory in that race that helped us win that championship and that’s Greg Biffle. He led and dominated all the laps that day. He was a teammate of mine who actually kept (Jimmie) Johnson from leading a lap. He kept those five points away from him and Jeff Gordon as well. If we were trying to get a lap back in the race, Biffle might have slowed up a bit more than he would have if it was someone else. He helped us tremendously. He was a great teammate and good friend.”

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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