Kurt Busch: WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS HEADING INTO CHICAGOLAND THIS WEEKEND? "We're really pumped up about Chicagoland. Coming to this area of the country, Miller Lite is always heavily involved at this race track and this region. We've got a lot...
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS HEADING INTO CHICAGOLAND THIS WEEKEND? "We're really pumped up about Chicagoland. Coming to this area of the country, Miller Lite is always heavily involved at this race track and this region. We've got a lot of excitement heading into the weekend. Our main goal is to go out there and go for those wins and try to rack up those bonus points. If the Chase started now, we'd be tied for third in points with a group of guys; the leaders would be 30 ahead of us. Thirty-points isn't anything that you can't overcome in a weekend. It's just nice to get some momentum and get going in the right direction heading to the Chase. These next races will be very interesting. We feel like we have a pretty good handle on Chicagoland. We came here with our Charlotte setup; it's the car that we finished third in at Darlington. Then we have an off week to get our batteries re-energized and then head to Indy and start to settle into some of our summer-time races, Pocono, Michigan and a wide variety of race tracks. Our focus this weekend is to get our Miller Lite Dodge into victory lane."
CAN YOU GIVE US YOUR THOUGTS ON SAM HORNISH'S PROGRESS IN CUP? "I think Sam Hornish Jr. has been doing an excellent job in the 77 car, progressing over the years. There's been steady movement forward getting a feel for the race car; that's the No. 1 objective. I know that if I went to go run IRL races, it would be a huge learning curve. It would be something to challenge yourself with and that's what he's done. He's challenged himself in tackling these stock cars and he's putting up a good battle, yet we want to see more out of him and I think that he knows that as well. He had a great run spoiled at Daytona. And then to have a couple runs earlier this year where he was doing really well and not post the results, we just need to help find him a way to find those 15th-place cars and turn them into top 10's and do it on a continuing basis. He's showing progress. It's just a matter of time before he breaks through."
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE STUFF THAT HAPPENED BETWEEN YOU AND CARL EDWARDS LAST WEEKEND IN DAYTONA? "At Daytona I ran into a lot of cars. I think everyone ran into a lot of stuff last week. You just slid around all race long. I got wrecked at the start-finish line after the race was over. The car didn't deserve to get destroyed like it was. I pinched Carl (Edwards) at the line to try and preserve sixth-place, he turned right at the finish line to wreck us and I think it collected the 71 car (Mike Bliss). Those guys didn't deserve to get caught up in a wreck after the start-finish line. It's just tough when you see wrecked cars and there were a lot of them after Daytona. We'll see how the rest of the races progress as far as here and in the short run."
CAN YOU EXPLAIN WHY THERE HAVE BEEN SO MANY UPS AND DOWNS (WITH THE LEADERS) THIS YEAR IN CUP? "It's a battle each week to get a top finish. There are a lot of elements that can jump up and bite you at the end of these races. Whether you're gambling on fuel strategy or your tire strategy that you chose wrong or whether you're at Sonoma and somebody tries to throw you off the race track. There are so many elements that come into play to how you get a good finish. (Jimmie) Johnson went 10 weeks without winning and you all were writing to each other, 'man, he's not on the top of his game.' The expectations for them are so different than anybody else it seems like. The tracks where he really excels seem to be in the Chase. He's really good at those tracks. It really doesn't matter what anybody does this time of year other than the fact that you have to be one of those top 12 guys and lock yourself into the Chase and then worry about how things start up once we get to Loudon."
HOW CHALLENGING DO YOU THINK IT IS FOR DANICA TO DO THESE ONE-OFF NATIONWIDE RACES? "It's the expectation level as well. For Danica, it's compressed into one big event every weekend. When she comes over and races with us in NASCAR, I giggle at that. It's only Nationwide, it's not the big show. You have to be in the big show if you want to race with the big guys. Eventually she'll cross over and try and race with the big guys and there will be that big expectation and yet she doesn't have the timeline to help put it all together, whereas, Sam Hornish does have it. He's been able to switch over (to Cup). He conquered all the things he wanted to do in IRL. He's had a nice, easy transition flying under the radar. For Danica, it's the Daytona 500 every weekend that she shows up as far as media and attention and it can wear on you. Even though you're just trying to work on the race car, you have to do a lot of other stuff, you get pulled in many directions and it can definitely wear you out."
HOW DO YOU MEASURE HOW COMPETITIVE YOUR TEAM IS AGAINST OTHER? "For us, Roger and I have a good feel for one another and with my new crew chief Steve Addington. We measure how competitive we are week-in-and-week-out. Did we have a chance at winning? Did we lead laps that day? Or did we completely miss the setup and not even run in the top 10 at all. We finished sixth a few weeks ago at Pocono and that's what was written and that's our statistic for that race. We ran 30th all day and really struggled at Pocono this year. That's a circle on the map for us, that we didn't quite do it like we expected. Phoenix, we didn't race really well out there. We never challenged for the lead or raced up front. We finished 35th in a wreck. Then there are those other races when we finished third at Darlington, we won at Charlotte, the 600. We had a good stretch run of just good, nice solid top-10 finishes. That's how you measure success. I believe that if you're competitive week-in-and-week-out and you only have one or two blurbs where you weren't, then you're doing pretty good. It doesn't matter if you win. It doesn't matter if you finish eighth or so, it's still a good day. But if you didn't even scratch the surface to challenge for the lead or be competitive for the day, those are the ones that you have to circle."
DOES NASCAR NEED TO STAND ALONE ON HOW IT CROWN'S ITS CHAMPION? "I'd like to have a sit down with Brian (France). I think that our time is coming where they sit down with Penske Racing to discuss certain strategies, certain ideas. Brian has done a magnificent job of trying to bring NASCAR to the main stream and try to get us into an evening time slot on prime time TV or whether it's to prepare us for a playoff system such as the Chase and what it can do to crown a champion and give it definition to who is the final man standing. You have the World Cup where it is eliminations and now you only have two teams to root for. Would that be good though heading down to Homestead with only two guys to root for? The Chase was a brilliant idea, it worked magnificently in 2004. I still don't even remember the race. I did happen to win the championship, but to have five guys eligible to win the championship in one day, that was the whole master plan. It hasn't phased out that way over the years; I think that's why we're looking for some tweaks. Brian is our leader and we have to do what we can collectively to make the best decision possible for the sport. Not just for our fans that show up for the race, but for our fans watching on TV and to help ourselves be in that mainstream, the top three, whether it's NFL, Major League Baseball or NASCAR.
WILL THERE COME A TIME WITH THE REST OF THE DRVERS WHEN DANICA WILL BECOME A THREAT TO WIN? "I think once she commits full-time to NASCAR, she'll have a better understanding of the flow and the feel, not just with the schedule, not just of the race car, but everything that has to happen. It's just not jumping in the car and wheeling it. You have to handle all the different areas of sponsor appearances, media requests and time with the team. Right now, she's very limited because she's still committed to the IRL schedule. This is just a work in progress. We'll have to wait and see the final product when she decides what road she's going to go down. She'll probably have a one-hour ESPN primetime special when she wants to announce it."
-source: dodge motorsports