Kurt Busch Open Interview — New Hampshire

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dodge Motorsports PR

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

American Muscle

LENOX Tools 301

Kurt Busch Open Interview

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series



KURT BUSCH (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T) CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR TEAM HEADING INTO THE SECOND HALF OF THE CUP SEASON?  “It’s hard to believe that we’re only halfway.  It seems like there’s been a lot of racing, lots of good action, a lot of travel and most recently, a lot of traffic.  All in all, it’s been a great season for us, to have as many top 10s that we have.  In doing a radio media tour the other day for Shell/Pennzoil, I’d learned that we’ve completed the most laps out of everybody in the first-half (of the season).  That’s a good, consistent run.  That’s what’s important for us, to be consistent.  Most recently we’ve been leading laps and putting ourselves in a position to win.  That’s a good feeling.  It’s a solid point’s effort so far, to be fourth overall.  We hope to continue that here for the next eight weeks.  We hope that we can bump up a little bit when the standings will be reset.  We’re not locked into the Chase by any means, but we feel pretty good about our chances.  This is a great track for us to try and get one of those wins because it has been good to me in the past.”

YOUR BROTHER KYLE HAS HAD GREAT SUCCESS IN THE TRUCK AND NATIONWIDE SERIES.  YOU USED THE SERIES IN A MORE TRADITIONAL DEVELOPMENT SENSE TO MOVE UP THE LADDER.  CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT?  “For me, getting an opportunity to race in the Truck Series was a dream come true.  To have that opportunity and just spend one year there, it was a great way to use the ladder system that NASCAR has put in place.  With local late models or street stocks, then up through the K&N West Series or East Series, trucks, then Nationwide and into Cup.  For me, I went straight from trucks into Cup.  I never even raced Nationwide and I felt that the Cup Series was where I belonged and that’s where I wanted to hone my skills, try to gain those wins and put 100 percent focus on the Cup Series.  When I switched over to Penske Racing, as a favor, I wanted to help with their Nationwide program, to help it develop.  We won our first race right out of the box.  I was like, ‘wow, this isn’t necessarily easy, but you don’t usually win your first race right out of the box.’  So why continue to push the effort to Nationwide instead of just focusing the efforts on the Cup cars?  All in all, he (Kyle) has done a magnificent job to develop his Truck Series program for his own self and to work with Gibbs Racing to have that Nationwide program as strong as it is.  He’s contributed that time and effort and that’s what he should be remembered for – the commitment of time and work ethic that he’s shown in all three series.  For me, I choose to have a little bit of life outside of racing and not necessarily focus every day about racing in truck, Nationwide and Cup.  I just focus on Cup.”

WHAT MAKES LOUDON A DIFFICULT PLACE TO REPEAT AT?  “This is a tough track with strategy.  Taking two tires at the end or when is the final time that you want to pit is always in question.  Fuel mileage comes into play on who can pit for the final time and last the longest on a tank of gas.  So it changes with the way the yellows fall and with your strategy.  A track like this, the fastest car usually does win, but a track like this also lends itself to unique ways to get a win.”

WHY ISN’T THERE A DOMINANT DRIVER THIS YEAR?  DO YOU SEE IT THAT WAY?  DOES IT EVEN MATTER? WHEN DOES THAT JOCKEYING BEGIN?  “I think that if you look at all sports in general, baseball, football, basketball, right around the all-star break, right around the halfway point, you find you have the teams that have separated themselves with winning records.  You start to get a feel for who’s going to make the playoff and who’s going to show the strength in the playoffs.  Just like you see in racing, you see some of the guys who are close, some of the guys that are right in the mix.  I think that it’s great that we don’t have any clear-cut favorite.  That’s what NASCAR is all about – creating an equal playing field for everyone to find success and right now, I don’t see a favorite.  (Carl) Edwards was strong early on.  Kyle’s (Busch) been strong as of late.  But then you see guys like RCR just sitting there chipping away.  (Brad) Keselowski has been picking up speed recently and that’s helped us.  So, we’re right in that mix as well.

“I don’t think that it matters at this point.  The one thing that I do remember distinctly about 2004 and it might be why we have the testing procedures that we do now is that I saved all my tests for the Chase.  So we were a little bit behind in the regular season and squeaked in 7th, but when the Chase started, we have every test used up in the Chase for Chase tracks.”

WOULD AN ALL-BUSCH BROTHER CHASE FOR THE CHAMPIONSHIP BE SOMETHING THAT YOU WOULD RELISH?  “It would be great.  I think that’s something we’d both look forward to and this sport would definitely embrace.  I think the other drivers would definitely be egging us both on to see who come out on top and it would be a great challenge to see.  The NFL does a great job playing the Manning brothers against each other.  Of course, tennis does a great job with the Williams sisters when they’re playing.  It’s a battle for us for 10 weeks straight. It’s just not one week that one brother is going to be on top.  In NASCAR racing you have to be good at every race track that you show up at.  Over a 10 week span, it would be great to challenge each other to see who could be the best Busch brother.”

WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE THE SUCCESS OF THE DODGES THIS YEAR?  WHAT HAS DODGE BEEN DOING THIS YEAR THAT THEY HAVEN’T IN PAST YEARS?  “It’s just the way that you work through cycles and finding information.  Those guys up in Detroit are there to help us aerodynamically, a lot through the tires from what we see with Goodyear and information from them, and Dodge helps us there.  And then you go through different trends and sometimes you hit it exactly right.  Other times, you’re scratching your head a little bit.  So it’s nice to be on the upswing.  Everybody is smiling knowing that everything is going smooth, but you still have to continue to work hard.  The guys that gather the information from Dodge at Penske are definitely in-tune with what those guys are doing up in Detroit.  Just like when we visited Michigan Speedway (last month), we were talking with the lead engine developers up in Detroit and they had a couple of the (Penske) southern boys up there from the engine shop working closely with them.  And they’re working with guys from Houston, Texas who are with Pennzoil, working with the lubricant side trying to get us more horsepower.  So it’s just great to see everyone pulling the rope in the same direction from all different worlds.”

IF CARL EDWARDS WERE TO LEAVE RFR (ROUSH-FENWAY RACING), WHAT COULD HE ANTICIPATE AS A “LAME DUCK” RACER?  “There experience that I went through was hell to put it lightly.  I went in there like a man to tell Jack (Roush) that I was leaving and to see how it all turned out was very surprising to me.  I would definitely tread lightly.  Make sure you’re saying what you want to say, the proper way.  I don’t see Carl going anywhere right now.  This is an owner’s market.  Right now, it’s hard to find the sponsor dollar.  New drivers, guys like Nelson Piquet Jr. are calling me or guys like (Ricky) Stenhouse or (Trevor) Bayne are bringing money into the series just to find rides.  So it’s very difficult right now to say that a driver could just pick up, take his sponsor with him and go somewhere because right now, I think that it’s an owner’s market.”

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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