Friday, June 10, 2011 Pocono Raceway
Dodge Motorsports PR
5-Hour ENERGY 500
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
KURT BUSCH (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T) CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR RACE STRATEGY THIS WEEKEND AT POCONO? “It’s going to be good to see how the third-gear rule will play out with being able to shift again. We’ll see how early in the run that we can do that. But then you’ll have to manage your engine and rpms and not over-rev it. We’ll see what pace we’re going to have. Today is going to be warm. It should be cooling off for Sunday’s event. We’ll see what lap times we’re able to run and what pace we’ll have to set. Overall, to be sixth in points, we ran really well last week and it’s exciting to see such a quick turnaround with what we have going on for setups and all the personnel things that we’ve moved around.”
WOULD YOU RATHER WIN MULTIPLE RACES AND NOT MAKE CHASE OR MAKE THE CHASE WITH ZERO WINS? “To win a championship, that’s the ultimate goal. To do that you need to have a consistent run to get into the Chase. You can do it with wins. You can do it with being consistent. But if you’re not in the Chase, you don’t have a shot at the championship. Ultimately, you want to win, but if you can be consistent and work your way into the Chase, that’s the most important key.”
CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOW SHIFTING AT POCONO CAN CHANGE THE WAY YOU RACE AT POCONO? “Back in the day, we’d run third gear primarily all the way around the race track and put it into fourth gear down the long front straightaway. With the gear rule that we’re going to change to and what we’re going to adapt to today, we’ll see how it plays out. We might end up shifting more often because it’s a third gear that’s mandated, so we can’t change it at all. It helps you come off the corner stronger. With a lower gear like that, you’re able to get those rear tires to spin a little easier and you’re going to be on the looser side of things. It’s basically getting that squirt out of the corner, coming out of the corner stronger with that gear. We’ll see how much it loosens it up, yet you still have to be conservative because you don’t want to over-rev the engine. We’re seeing a lot of these races getting into fuel mileage. The more that you’re shifting, that’s going to take away your fuel mileage as well. Most likely, we’ll downshift right at the apex of the corner because it will over-rev the engine if we downshift into the corner.”
HAVE YOU TALKED TO KYLE ABOUT THE CHILDRESS SITUATION? “We just talked a little bit at driver intro last week. He’s got a lot of things going on in his life; good things with his truck program, running all the Nationwide races that he does, and of course the Cup side of it. I just told him don’t waver to what’s gotten you to this point. Stay true to yourself. Stay firm with how you’re racing on the track. Don’t change. At the end of the day, just try and smile more. I think he’s trying to take everything, trying to be a perfectionist with it all and it’s really hard to do that at the level he’s trying to do it.
“Ultimately, that’s what we’re all worried about, how the car performs and we want to win. Then there’s the identity that you create, the icon that you become, the role model that you are to kids. There are so many different hats that you have to wear at this level. But at the end of the day, it’s just a matter of making that car fast and trying to get it to victory lane.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW QUALIFYING PROCEDURE IN NASCAR? “I think that it’s good to mix the go-or-go-homers in with us. There’s no sense in just trying to separate them toward the end. You can see the lull in the action on TV when top 35 guys go and then you have the go-or-go-homers at the end, you can just see the interest drop off. Mixing those guys in, but still continuing to do what were doing with practice speeds to dictate when you go out, is a smart move and we’ll see how it plays out this weekend.”
HOW MANY TEAMS ARE CAPABLE OF WINNING A CUP RACE AND HOW MANY ARE CHAMPIONSHIP CALIBER? “You’ve got where Brad (Keselowski) is in points, 20th or so, there are 20 teams that can win on any given weekend. There’s probable more than that. With the way that the series is so competitive, everybody is running very similar lap times. With the way that fuel mileage sometimes plays out or just taking two or no tires, you never know because everybody is very competitive.
“I would say there are a good 10 legitimate championship contenders and as we get closer to the Chase, that number ends up getting a little bit smaller. Once you get into the Chase and start running those weeks down towards the end, you only have two or three guys that have a legitimate shot at winning (it).”
IS THE WILDCARD SYSTEM PUTTING MORE PRESSURE ON DRIVERS TO THINK AHEAD? “It is different. Now, if you win, you find yourself in great position to make the Chase. Let’s just say you’re running eighth or ninth in points with no wins and you have a couple of bad weeks right before Richmond, the next thing you know you’re on the outside looking in. Wins are important. Wins get you that comfort zone. Like (Kevin) Harvick right now, he doesn’t need to sweat anything. He’s got three wins. I don’t think you’re going to see a flurry of other drivers winning so many races that it leaves just one win for those guys to get into the Chase. I think you’re going to have multiple wins if you’re going to be the wildcard to get in.”
WILL THE VETERANS HAVE AN ADVANTAGE AT SHIFTING AGAIN AT POCONO? “These are the best drivers in the world and nobody is going to have problems adjusting to it. In a roundabout way, just like when we went to Daytona and Talladega this past year and how things evolved with the two-car draft, if you’re going to find speed going faster as a two-car draft, well, you’re going to find speed in shifting out there. No matter what it takes, every driver is out there to find that extra speed and be the fastest guy on track. The veterans might adapt to it a little quicker, but you’ll still have a new guy like Andy Lally, he’s a great road racer, he’ll probably figure out how to shift it as well.
“The technique is just to be as nice to the equipment as possible. You don’t want to be slamming it into gears. You don’t want to be aggressive with it. And, in the back of your mind, you always have to keep track of the revs in the engine. You don’t want to over-rev it.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU LEARNED FROM YOUR INCIDENT WITH JIMMY SPENCER AND HOW IT AFFECTED YOU AS A DRIVER AND WHAT YOU CARRIED AWAY FROM THAT? ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT NOBODY WAS SUSPENDED FROM LAST WEEK’S INCIDENT? “Yeah, it’s really odd how different things happen in the past and how they were handled versus where we stand today and how things work out. It’s like Kevin Harvick said he wanted all his money back from all the fines that he got from earlier in his career because things are being handled differently now. We’re all responsible for taking care of this sport and the forefathers that gave it to us. It’s up to us to continue putting it in a good spot and to carry it to the future for the young drivers that are going to come up and race with us into the future. I learned things back when I was in trouble doing things wrong. When you sit down at the end of the day and you’re on the porch in rocking chair mode, you want to see a different picture. That’s what I wanted to see, a different picture at the end of the day. That’s why it’s been good for me to change.”