Fontana II: Pole winner interview

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) "It was a really good lap for the Miller Lite Dodge. I didn't really think that we'd have a shot at the pole. I was just looking for a nice consistent run. After we got done with practice the number...

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)

"It was a really good lap for the Miller Lite Dodge. I didn't really think that we'd have a shot at the pole. I was just looking for a nice consistent run. After we got done with practice the number that we thought we had didn't show up on the scales and so we just changed it here, changed it there. We threw a set up at it that we thought would be close to where we wanted to be and low and behold we've got a pole. It's really interesting how today worked with all of the heat and how hot it was just trying to get a read on the racetrack. I'll go back to just thanking the racetrack because it's been kind to me with the poles that I have here. I think it's just a tribute to being in contention for the pole, and that's just due to the team giving me good cars to go out there and do it. It feels great with the Miller Lite Dodge to lead the field on Sunday and get those five bonus points. We'll start moving on from there."

HOW SEVERE WERE THE CHANGES THAT YOU HAD TO MAKE?

"When you look at scale numbers and your nose weight and your cross weight distribution, we were off by about one percent. That's odd. Normally we're just a couple tenths of a percent. So when we got the sheet back we were really loose on one end and really tight on the other and the sheet showed that we were opposite. We scratched our heads a little bit and said alright lets back up one step and go back to where we were for our first qualifying run of practice and just go off of that. It made it interesting. We didn't know where we needed to be because the car was acting different than what the scale numbers said. It's hard to explain. If you think you are on the loose side and we came in and the scales said that we were tight. That's where we started scratching our head. We were like why is our car so tight when we were actually loose? That's where we just had to shoot for the middle and hope for the best."

IS IT TOUGH WHEN YOU GO TO A NEW MANUFACTURER?

"It can be difficult in some aspects and then it's easy in others. Learning the people is most important and I've met some great people at Dodge. There are great people at Ford. When a team switches that's a big step. Not just when a driver leaves one auto manufacturer and goes to another, but when a team changes I think that really mixes it up more so then when a driver changes. They have to go and compare what the manufacturers numbers are in the wind tunnel, but then the wind tunnel is less important these days because of the Car of Tomorrow coming up around the corner. The manufacturer thing is interesting for teams, but I don't exactly know how to comment on what they'll go through, but for me I just had to learn new people and learn the new feel of the car."

DID THE CLOUD COVER MAKE MUCH DIFFERENCE LATE IN QUALIFYING?

"Yeah, there was a little bit of a cloud cover when we went out and then as the session progressed there towards the end there was a lot more cloud cover and the temperatures dropped even more. We were nervous. We didn't think that we'd have the pole. We dodged a few bullets and it feels really good to get the pole and get locked in the Shootout. The people up in Milwaukee love that, so we're having fun with that, but we got big picture racing going on as well."

HOW HOT WAS IT OUT THERE?

"It's warm. It reminded me of the days when I raced back in Las Vegas when it was 110 degrees outside. When I had a late model it was tough racing it, but I loved hopping in my modified because it didn't have a windshield in it. It just had a barbeque grate up front. You have open air and open cockpit in that modified. We don't have that. We have a tough race ahead of us and we'll be looking forward to when the sun drops down around 7 or 8 o'clock. I know the race starts and more than half of it is in the sun, so we're looking forward to when the shade comes."

IS THAT THE SAME CAR THAT YOU WON AT MICHIGAN WITH?

"This is our Pocono car. We won at Pocono with it and we thought that it would be a better fit with the flatter banking that we find here at California Speedway than what the Michigan car had for its balance a couple weeks ago."

WHAT WOULD YOU CALL THE CAR IF YOU WON HERE?

"The car already has a name. It's called the PT special. It's Pat Tryson's first car that he really got his hands on at Penske Racing and just to win at any track is special and when your boss builds a racetrack out of a dream, ambition and hard work Calfornia Speedway is a special place. Since he sold it Jillian Zucker has done a tremendous job with it sense and it's just a pleasure to come out here and race."

DO YOU FEEL MORE AT PEACE NOW THEN YOU HAVE IN A WHILE?

"I feel like right now the team still has more to prove, but we're just running with our back up against the wall. We're not locked in the Chase so you have that feeling each week that you just go do your business, get through the next practice session and just play it calm and cool. That's how we are reacting whether it's at the media center or out on the track. We're just playing it cool and trying to get locked in. We're not going to have a shot at this championship unless we get locked in. Everybody is saying that we'll be fourth or fifth overall if the points were to end now, but the problem is that they haven't, and so we still just feel like we need to get locked in so we are just playing the conservative route."

IT SEEMS LIKE YOU WOULD BE MORE UPTIGHT BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT LOCKED IN, BUT YOU SEEM CALMER?

"I know. I confuse myself sometimes. I'm just going out there everyday just trying to take it one step at a time. I can't do it all myself and I now have a great crew chief that's balanced the ideas of Penske racing. Just to have his comfort has put me at ease. Just the whole program coming together at this opportune time, there's no telling. We can say the sky is the limit, but it just feels like each and every race there is more weight taken off our shoulders, but the funny thing is when the Chase starts -- Boom -- your right back in it and the pressure is back on. It's just one race at a time."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Teams Team Penske