Motorsport.com chats with NASCAR's latest winner, Kurt Busch about this week's race, his future and what "grabs" him. M.com: You had a great week. You won your second NASCAR race. Today I guess you are just sitting back, giving rides to sponsors...
Motorsport.com chats with NASCAR's latest winner, Kurt Busch about this week's race, his future and what "grabs" him.
M.com: You had a great week. You won your second NASCAR race. Today I guess you are just sitting back, giving rides to sponsors around the track [Atlanta]. Do you enjoy doing this PR type of stuff?
Kurt Busch: Yes, it has been a great week. The temperatures are cool and it's nice out here. Everybody is having a blast when they get in the car. It's neat to see the reactions on the people faces when they ride with me. The Coca-Cola people made this possible, it's a great thing and I really enjoy it.
M.com: Do they ask you to "slow it down"?
KB: No, they took the "rev-chip" out so we are really going! We are laying down some really good times today.
M.com: How do you feel about this track and the race this week?
KB: They is both unique. This is the first time we will have ever qualified here at night. That should be interesting. It will be cooler. But we know that when the race starts, things change. There can be several grooves. Up against the wall in [Turn] One and [Turn] Two. In [Turn] three and [Turn] four you can several lines. Up high or down low along the white line.
M.com: Would you take us through a quick lap?
KB: This track is a lot of fun ever since they reconfigured it. It used to be a conventional oval. Now the front straightaway now has a couple of "dog legs' in it. You want to keep the car up fairly high so that you can maintain your speed and momentum as you cross the start line. Maintaining your speed around this track is very important. Going down in Turn One, you need to be just a little light on the throttle and as soon as the car compresses, you're back down on the pedal. You try to stay down on the white line. You plant the pedal and just hope that the tires hold.
Coming out of [Turn] Two there is no real issue with the wall. You just let the car drift out and hold that line all the way down the back straight to Turn Three. It's just about the same thing going in [Turn] Three. You just lift a little bit going in and as soon as the car settles, you plant your foot and hold on. There are more grooves to run through [Turn] Three and [Turn] Four. But at both ends, it's still "plant your foot and hold on'!
Coming out of Turn Four is a little different here. The car always wants to get a little loose at that point. But you have to just keep the power on and drive through it. That's what I like about Atlanta. It's go, go, go!
M.com: Tell us a little about the recent lead changes and points races coming into Atlanta.
KB: This place is always exciting when it comes to racing and to the points. This used to be the final race of the year. A lot of fuel strategy used to come into play. A lot of guys always wanted to finish off the year with a win. This was their last chance. Everyone always used to go all out to win this one. Now we are here earlier with warmer temperatures, so I think we will see some great racing. More side by side racing. The warmer temperatures should make tire wear more of a factor.
M.com: Do you realize that a lot of your fans do not know what it's like to drive around these tracks in a Winston Cup car?
KB: That's why I enjoy taking people for a ride. Television does not do it justice. It's very difficult to explain it. Driving these cars is very demanding. They have video games that try to give you a sense of it, but until your pulling lateral Gs in the middle of a turn with the throttle planted, you just don't know. Anyone who is a NASCAR fan should come out and take the Richard Petty Driving Experience.
M.com: Who was your mentor, your idol, when you were growing up?
KB: That's a tough question. I spent a lot of time watching races on television when I was growing up. But in the end, my father taught me all I know about racing and he has been the greatest friend, father and mentor to me. He is my idol.
M.com: How about your teammates? Are you closer to one than another?
KB: I would have to say all three of them equally. Jeff Burton, Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth have all done great things on and off the track. I just quiz them after different places. Mark Martin is great on road courses, Matt [Kenseth] is great on the high banks and Jeff Burton is great everywhere, especially on flat tracks. They are all a great help to me.
M.com: What about your future? Are you planning on sticking with Roush [Racing] to win a championship?
KB: For sure, he gave me the opportunity to go racing when I first began. We have a great relationship between us, also with our sponsors, and we are all signed up for a couple of years. It would be a great thing to win him the championship.
M.com: Is there any other kind of racing you want to do? Open-wheel?
KB: This is the ultimate to me. I am racing with the best of the best. Stock car racing has always been the "big grab" for me.
M.com: Well we hope you "grab " a win this week and good luck in the future.
NASCAR driver Kurt Busch competes in the NAPA 500 this Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway.