Budweiser Shootout Post-Race Press Conference
February 12, 2010
An Interview With:
KURT BUSCH - Winner
STEVE ADDINGTON - Crew chief
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined by Kurt Busch, winner of tonight's Bud Shootout. This is Kurt's first restrictor plate race win and the first Bud Shootout win for Dodge. Kurt, take us through the night tonight.
KURT BUSCH: Thank you. Just an unbelievable experience tonight to not really know what the exact game plan was going in other than the two-car draft was going to be the way to win. And if you can master that, it would benefit you obviously to stay hooked up.
I'm going to start calling it teammate of the day. McMurray was everything for us tonight with his ability to stay tucked up behind us and to keep the two-car chain attached. It's sort of the responsibility of both parties, the lead driver and the guy behind. The lead driver has to navigate through traffic with the other cars that are running high or low. The back guy has to have the confidence in that front guy to guide him through that because the rear guy can't see anything.
And just the way that this race played out, I just had an open mindset going in. I didn't know what to expect, I didn't know how to win. I just felt like I needed to have a teammate, and I found one in Mark Martin in the first half. I have to thank him for keeping us up front. And then with McMurray in the second half.
Things just fell in our place. When you feel like it's your night, things just go your way, and we definitely had that. To start off with Shell-Pennzoil in our first race and drive the 22 to victory lane, it's an awesome experience. To have it with the new group and to have it at Daytona, this place is special. I'll cherish this win for a long, long time. And I have McMurray to thank but I also have my crew and my team at Penske Racing led by Steve Addington, everybody that jumps over the wall, everybody that builds these bodies, these motors, the chassis, it's just a great way to start it off.
This was a perfect night. Things fell into place, fell into our hands and lady luck was on our side at the end. My plan was to break away the pack and to stay tucked up as the third place car behind those two, but it's amazing how the two cars are just -- you have to have two cars to stay hooked up. You cannot do three, you can't do four, five, it's just two cars, and you're going to see that all week long.
THE MODERATOR: We welcome also into the media center crew chief Steve Addington. Steve, if you'll talk a little bit about what the view looked like from the pit box tonight.
STEVE ADDINGTON: Nerve-wracking. No, I mean, we felt like we couldn't push as good as the other guys and got hooked up with Mark Martin there at the beginning, and Kurt said, I'm going to go talk to him at the break, and we decided we added some tape to our car because we couldn't push and we felt like if we were going to be pushed all night we needed to add some tape to the front of it, and we did that. And we got separated from Mark, and then he got in trouble with -- him and the 18 car got together and spun and which lost him, and I thought we were in trouble because I was looking at what was left. And then when Juan got knocked out and Jamie was out there by hisself and he committed hisself to us, and that helped us.
Say what you want to about the pushers, but the guy driving that car, the guy leading that tandem there, that's the guy that had to pay attention and Kurt did an awesome job tonight.
Q: Kurt, from a personal standpoint can you talk about what it means to you to win at Daytona and also to win a restrictor plate race?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, this is a special day. I've tried very hard over the last 11 years to break through on a restrictor plate race, to pull into victory lane at Daytona. I knew this was a special moment, and I sucked it all in. You never know when that chance will be again. I've always respected this racetrack. I've always thought the times that I finished second here, not just in Cup cars but in the Truck Series, in IROC, that I can't get mad. I can't get discouraged. I know that one day it'll come back for me.
And with the fresh pavement and a new outlook on what this draft is going to be about, basically this is the old-school style racing with slingshots with two cars tied up together. That's what it reminded me of; I had flashbacks of slingshots, but you've got to have the guy behind you with you.
It's an unbelievable experience to win here at Daytona, to win a restrictor plate race after so many years of trying. You know, it's not a points race, but in my mind it's a very special race, and heck, we knocked out the All-Star race last year out in Charlotte and we got the Shootout here together. Steve and I are doing pretty good at knocking off big events off our list together.
STEVE ADDINGTON: We've just got to keep it going, be more consistent with it.
Q: Try to explain to us why two cars only seemed to work rather than three, and also, if you could forecast, kind of tell us what we should expect on Thursday and on Sunday.
KURT BUSCH: Well, I think we all have been to a Saturday night short track and seen chain races where they put a big I-beam through the cars and they don't put anybody in the middle. There's a guy up front with a motor and then there's a guy in the back with the brake. This is opposite; this is where the guy in the back has the motor, the guy in the front has the brake.
Two cars just hook up, and it seems like the air comes off the front car and clears that second car perfectly. If you have a third car, the air comes off that front car, lands onto the third car and that third car can't break through. That's my philosophy on it. But again, I just -- you always think of as much as you can in the race to give yourself an advantage, and having an open mind tonight is similar to the approach that I had when I ran for the Chase back in 2004. Nobody knew what to expect, nobody knew how to win it, and I felt like just having an open mind and not getting frustrated with anything kept me in this, and I have Jamie McMurray to thank for everything tonight, and having a guy that's won here at Daytona is also a key ingredient because he knows how to get it done.
Q: So how about Thursday and Sunday?
KURT BUSCH: Thursday and Sunday you're going to see two-car drafts just like this. If there's 40 cars out there, you're going to have 20 two-car packs.
Q: Kurt, you helped your former teammate Ryan Newman win the 500. Does the track owe you anything? Is there a missing win as you helped Ryan a couple years ago?
KURT BUSCH: I always think that Ryan will know that I helped him, and he'll jump in behind me if things are getting busy out there. You have to have as many alliances as you can.
And to not win at this track ever before until tonight, I still kept feeling like maybe I'll find my day here, and tonight is my night. I'm going to absorb it, take it all in, and it's fun doing it with a new group like Shell-Pennzoil. It would have been cooler to win with the Miller Lite car in the Bud Shootout, but hey, we're with a great group with Shell, with Pennzoil, with Dodge, and maybe it was just a little bit of lady luck on our side tonight that gave us this win. But true credit to my team and to McMurray. I was just trying to hold a pretty wheel.
Q: You both have a lot of experience here. Did that experience help at all? And also, as far as the practice, did you guys -- could you see any of this coming, or was it strictly learn as you go for everybody?
STEVE ADDINGTON: I think we saw it coming. I mean, it was inevitable that this was going to be the way the racing was going to be. I think that when NASCAR stepped in this morning and took a step of the oil cooling and tried to get the temperatures up so guys couldn't do that away from us, they thought they could break it up with that, but it didn't happen. The guys are still going to do it for whether it's two laps or eight laps, everybody is going to work towards that direction to be able to do this.
KURT BUSCH: We saw it coming. That's why Brad Keselowski and myself teamed up during January testing. I have Brad to thank, as well, for the education, so to speak. We taught each other how to do this two-car draft and I felt very comfortable going in tonight knowing that it could be a key factor to win. And it was.
One thing I'm thinking of sitting here tonight is it was 50 degrees out tonight. It's going to be much warmer on Sunday, and that will shake up how guys are able to push with their temperatures and their radiator and their oil coolers.
Q: This race presented an interesting dynamic in forming, I guess, unlikely alliances with different guys beyond your own teammates. Do you spend this next week looking to see if you can add to that group of people that you can ally yourself with because of the fact that temperatures may change conditions, maybe Jamie might not be able to go as fast as you, all these variables may come into play? Do you spend the next week trying to forge as many alliances as you can to be mutually beneficial to the both of you?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, I would say that that's going to be a key player in it. There's going to be so many elements that fall into place that you really can't just focus on just one thing. You have to go back and review a lot. I'm going to go back and review the tape and see who are the pushers, who are the pushees, and it looks like the RCR cars have some good steam under the hood to push really well, and those engines, those ECR engines, those guys are great pushers.
For us, we need to have as many alliances as we can. We're the only Dodge team out there. I can't wait to get Keselowski out there, see how we team up, whether we're in the same 150 or not together, and then it comes down to these restarts at the end. You can have 450 miles of racing with somebody and it gets shuffled around.
The thing that's most important in my mind is you can't try to hook up with your buddies too soon and then guys are trying to check up and stay together and you're still in a big pack and then, boom, cars are wrecking. It's almost every restart you're looking around going who can I team up with.
Q: You just explained how it works with the air with the front car and then how it goes over the second car, but still you've figured out somehow to stay with the third car close to the second car. How did you figure this out or find out about that?
KURT BUSCH: A lot of it was learn as you go.
STEVE ADDINGTON: The fourth car was involved in that, the four-car breakaway.
KURT BUSCH: You have to have a guy willing to stick with you and stay behind you. With the way the two cars hook up, it's just the length from the front bumper to the rear bumper of the two cars. So it's just taking an overall measurement, and the air comes off that first car and must land right behind the spieler of the second car because if you hit there and try to draft a foot apart, you can never hook up. You never get that extra speed.
So it's just a distance thing. I think if we all stood in the wind tunnel, and made some measurements we would see exactly what we're seeing out here on the racetrack, but it's very difficult to simulate wind tunnels versus what happens here on the asphalt track. A lot of it is just being able to read the car and feel the rpm and know when you're getting bogged down versus when you actually have extra speed with the draft.
Q: Jamie McMurray was saying that one of the reasons he stayed with you at the end of the race and during the race is because you guys are such good friends off the track. What's the genesis of that? What's the origins of you guys being so tight?
KURT BUSCH: It's really just the camaraderie and the way that we've shared off-track experiences, whether it's hanging out together, whether it's going to events together. We did flip-flop sponsors or rides in a sense. He took over at Crown Royal on that 97 car, turned into the 26, and there was a little bit of spite in the beginning with me switching over to Penske, him being part of the deal at Ganassi. But it's just funny how things come together.
There's just people that you see in life and you gravitate towards them, and he and I have done that. We live fairly close to each other in the Charlotte area, and there's times when we find each other hanging out and we don't even know.
Q: When did you guys first discover this phenomenon in January? When did it come about? And do you believe that this is a product of the bumpers or the pavement or whatever?
KURT BUSCH: Just to finish up, I consider Jamie McMurray a true friend, and it takes somebody like that to push you to a victory. It reminded me of the time when I shoved Newman to win the 500. The product of tonight's event and how everything unfolded, it's everything, the way the bumpers line up, the fresh asphalt, the tires, the grip in the tires. We saw a little bit of this at Talladega and now here at Daytona with the cars hooked up; there's virtually no tire wear and you're just worried about staying in that two-draft because it's four seconds faster a lap than it is if you're out there by yourself. So just the discovery one bit at a time, here, there and everywhere. And Keselowski and I saw this coming; we teamed up and spent a great deal of time in January testing and trying to polish up on it.
Q: Steve, NASCAR made some changes this morning apparently designed to prevent drivers from being in these two-car hook ups for extended periods. That didn't seem to work tonight. Is there anything that they can do to break up the two cars for the long runs, and should they?
STEVE ADDINGTON: I don't want to see that happen. I think it's cool that we're running over 200 miles an hour. Kurt might not like that, but I think he likes --
KURT BUSCH: It's fun as hell.
STEVE ADDINGTON: I don't know. I think that I don't want to give my opinion, give them any ideas, so I just think that they tried to do it with a little bit this morning with the oil coolers, but we went back to the package that we tested with Kurt and Brad down here in January and felt pretty confident in it and just played it safe with opening up tape.
I don't know what they're planning on doing, if anything, but I don't think that -- if we go to a smaller plate it's just going to be a slower two-car deal. It's not going to separate the guys doing what they're doing tonight. They may shorten that length of time, but I don't think they'll end it.
Q: Did you know you had won at first? The scoring marshals all had him winning by .003. Who told you you had won? Were you worried about the yellow line deal or what?
KURT BUSCH: I've been in one of these .002, .003 things before, and I looked down, I was just full throttle and I let go of the wheel to try to free up the car, and I'm looking down at the 11, I've got him beat, no problem, and Addington said that scoring had the 11 car, and I'm look, no, no, I'm the winner, I won. You can't take this away. I've around been through one of these 002, 003s and came out the loser.
When I got on the back straightaway, Steve had said that they have the 11 scored as the leader by three thousandths of a second, and he also said that he went below the double yellow, and I said, well, of course he did, of course he did. So he advanced his position below the double yellow, which was a rule that we didn't think would come into play tonight, but it did. And it didn't look like Newman forced him down there; it looked like the 11 took that option. It obviously was the shortest distance around.
But my game plan was to stay hooked up with McMurray the whole way through, and I have him to thank. For us to come out on top with the way that the ruling went, it's a correct ruling, and I think that we can take this win on home for Dodge and for Shell-Pennzoil.
Q: If they make a change, if they tell you Wednesday morning, is that okay, or would you like to know something by Monday or Tuesday?
STEVE ADDINGTON: Do you think they're going to come ask me? If they make a change, we've just got to deal with it. I was wanting to get out to talk to Scott Currier, the engine builder over at Penske Racing Engines, just to see what he thinks on rpm, where we're at, where we're running, and I'll be on the phone with him and gathering all the information I can from him, and we'll just wait and see what the decision is on what they do. I can't say one way or the other what they're going to do.
But if they were going to do something I'd like for them to let us know before Wednesday morning to start practice so we can be prepared for it. They may let us know tomorrow. We've got all day tomorrow. We'll be hanging around.
Q: All of the drivers throughout this after the race have said they liked it, they liked it. Do you think the fans are going to like it because this is like 207 degrees out from what Daytona has been for all of these years, so do you think the fans are going to like this for 500 miles?
KURT BUSCH: I'm glad I waited for your question because after Bob's question I'm sitting here going, what is the perspective from the outside? What did the fans view tonight? How exciting was it? NASCAR is going to eventually that, ask the fans.
From what I was told from some of the interviews I did previously, the fans were on their feet, they were jumping up and down, they just saw this whole new style of draft. We all knew this coming in on the fresh repave, what is this going to bring. The way the cars are set up, the way the restrictor plates work, the way that the bumpers align themselves, this is fresh asphalt, this is a whole new look.
And so I don't want this win not to feel like it's a win because we're all writing that this is too many unknowns tonight. We do need to get the fans' opinion to find out, and if the fans agree and there's a general consensus that this was positive, then I hope that our win is glorified even more. Right now I'm getting the feeling that this didn't count because there was too many unknowns going in, and who knew that this was going to be a two-car draft.
But to pull into victory lane with new sponsors and a car number that nobody knew nothing about, I was just hoping to fly under the radar tonight and everybody think that we were Ward Burton or Bobby Allison or Fireball Roberts running the 22 car and we'll sneak up on them and win, and we sure as heck did.
Q: I think the talk about the changes is because we saw a lap at 206 and several laps at 202, 203. Did you feel like it was too fast and any changes would need to be made just for the safety reason, not necessarily for racing reasons?
KURT BUSCH: I'm with you. I was beginning to get these shots up here, like what's going on. I feel with the way the cars would wreck back in the day and why the reason for restrictor plates came out was because the cars didn't have enough downforce on them to keep them planted to the track when they would spin out sideways or get backwards and have the air lift those cars up. We saw that happen with the Truck Series the first time here with Jeffrey Bodine's horrific accident, and I think that's because the trucks lacked downforce the first time which was back in 2000.
I think these cars have enough downforce, they've got the roof flaps and the safety equipment to protect the drivers, but obviously once we start getting over 200, we have to make sure that we keep these cars in the ballpark, and that's the main concern.
If I had to throw something out there I would throw on bigger spoilers and a bigger plate that we can't go faster if we're getting 206.
It's an unbelievable experience to race out there in this two-car tandem and to be able to feel the air around you and to have that guy behind you pushing. It is so much fun inside the car when you have things going your way. I bet the guys that lost the draft are out there just sitting there filing their nails going down the back straightaway because they've got nothing else to do.
THE MODERATOR: Steve, Kurt, congratulations. Good luck next week.