Dodge Motorsports Notes & Quotes – Kurt Busch Open Interview – Coca-Cola 600

Thursday, May 26, 2011 Dodge Motorsports PR Charlotte Motor Speedway Coca-Cola 600 Kurt Busch Open Interview NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

KURT BUSCH (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T) YOU’RE DEFENDING RACE CHAMPION, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT COMING BACK HERE TO CHARLOTTE AND RACING IN THE 600? “It’s good to have a 600-mile challenge in front of us. With what we did here last year and bring home the big trophy to Penske Racing, It’s always important to win on Memorial Day weekend at Penske. We want to try and stack another trophy on our side. With the challenges that we’ve had lately, this is as good a place as any to try our hand at a different setup to try and see what we can find for speed. With the pit crew and the long 600 miles, we’ve got our work cut out for us. That’s what the challenge is; 600 miles is a long, tough race where you start in the daytime and end in the evening. The track is continually changing, so it takes a lot to be able to adjust to it. I’m really up to the challenge, so I’m looking forward to that.”

WHAT TYPES OF THINGS ARE YOU GUYS WORKING ON TO MAKE YOU CARS BETTER? “We feel like we have a good car in practice sometimes and then, we get into the race and as the sequence unfolds, we get a tight condition and drop off more than the other cars. We might qualify well and continually lose our track position as the race progresses. I’m feeling like it’s chassis related. There’s some technology that we might be a bit behind on or reluctant to put in the car. I would say now is as good of a time as any to try some things because we still have a lot of the regular season left. We can earn a Chase birth by just getting a win. There’s no sense of urgency. It’s just time to make some changes and make it happen.”

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CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WINNING BOTH MAY RACES IN CHARLOTTE AND THE MOMENTUM THAT IT GAVE YOUR TEAM? “Winning one of the most prestigious races of the year can put a feather in the cap for the season, no matter where you end up. To win the Coke 600 is a special moment. To look back and see what we did at the All-Star race and to come out on top of that race. You have goals at the beginning of the year and it’s always great to check them off and know that you accomplished something special. With the rings coming around Christmas time to commemorate what we did in the month of May. That was special. It gave us some momentum for June and July; you can’t hold on to that performance forever. You have to continue to post results and that’s what we need to do – get back to that same style of the car having that feel in it. We need solid pit stops and be a solid threat in the top-five every week.”

IS THERE A POINT WHERE YOU GUYS KNOW WHERE THE DROP IN PERFORMANCE STARTED? HAVE YOU BEEN CAUGHT BY SURPRISED DURING THE RACE BY HOW YOUR CAR HAS STRUGGLED? “I feel like how the month of May went for us last year, we were top-five. I think we were top-five and right where we needed to be in points – top-five in points. We came off a dominating month of May. We seemed to drop off when we went to Chicago in July. It was a car that we couldn’t describe and figure out. Chassis changes came towards the Chase and that’s when we really never found the speed. We had a very successful Daytona Speedweeks – a top-five in the Daytona 500. I think we all know that driving a restrictor-plate car is a lot different than a mile-and-a-half car. We hit it right for a superspeedway car. And now we’re back to the mile-and-a-halves and we’ve struggled. Twelve months later, we just find ourselves a bit behind in the mile-and-a-half department.

“I feel like we have to go into each race optimistic and positive so that you can find good results. At the end of the day, Roger Penske and I agree that as long as you put yourself in position to do well, no matter what the outcome is, those are good days. But when you’re running 15th just clawing to hang onto the lead lap, those aren’t days that we need for Shell, Pennzoil and Dodge. We need to be up there leading laps and having good results. Sometimes, it’s a surprise in practice that we hit on something and then you get into the race and our car reacts a little different in that dirty air compared to the competition.”

HAVE YOU TALKED TO KYLE ABOUT HIS TRAFFIC INCIDENT AND WHAT ADVICE DID YOU GIVE HIM? “Talking with Kyle (Busch) about it, I feel like he definitely understands the mistake that he made and that speed is supposed to be saved for here at the race track and putting on a good show. All of us drivers have a responsibility as being role models to what we can teach our youth on the roadways. There are posted speed limits and rules and laws; that’s what we have to do. Whatever comes of it, he has his court date and things will be ironed out. He’ll learn from the situation and be a better person from it. I think I was 26-years old when I got put through my big episode and it definitely changes the way that you look at things. There’s a responsibility that all of us have.”

HOW DO YOU MENTALLY FIGHT THROUGH THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE WHEN YOUR RACE CAR ISN’T LIKE WHAT YOU WHAT? “It’ a matter of trying to be the most professional that you can be about it. Not every situation is good. You’re being graded on how you persevere through the troubling times. I always laugh and listen to you guys contradict yourselves because you say that you want us to be more colorful, but all that you want to do to a driver is just thrash them when they show personality. That’s what I’m going through with this radio and from now on, there’s not going to be anything on it except solid team communication because that’s all there needs to be.”

IS IT A MATTER OF YOUR TEAM FIGURING OUT WHAT YOU’RE DOING WRONG OR WHAT THE COMPETITION IS DOING RIGHT? “It’s tough to know whether you’re chasing your own tail or you’re the lead dog. I’ve always drawn the conclusion that if you get complacent because you’re doing well, then the cycle is going to come and find you. You always have to look around, find new ideas and polish up in areas that might now be an A-plus. Whether its pit crew, aerodynamics, engine shop, I’ve seen those Roush guys at Texas, you could just see the new level of competition they have under the hood. David Ragan is on the pole by two-and-a-half tenths. That just doesn’t happen every day. They’ve got their program together and everybody has to advance more to be on top.”

WHAT IS THE TIMETABLE FOR YOUR TEAM TO GET THINGS TURNED AROUND AND STILL MAKE THE CHASE? “Seasons are graded on if you make the Chase – that’s what teams have to do. Sponsors love the fact that they can see their car with a chance at the championship. If we’re in good position by mid-September, that’s where we needs to be because that way we have a good 10-week run and the next thing you know we’re in championship contention. That’s what it takes. Right now it’s important to get a good start here after Charlotte, including this weekend, but into June and July and of course August is a very important month.”

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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