Fontana: Kurt Busch - Dodge Saturday interview

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) NOTE: Busch led a race-high 95 laps last week in the Daytona 500 but ended up 41st in the 43-car field after tangling with Tony Stewart on lap 154 of the 200-lap race. A former winner at California ...

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)

NOTE: Busch led a race-high 95 laps last week in the Daytona 500 but ended up 41st in the 43-car field after tangling with Tony Stewart on lap 154 of the 200-lap race. A former winner at California Speedway, Busch will start 18th in Sunday's Auto Club 500. He was fourth fastest in Saturday's first practice.

DID YOU SLEEP SUNDAY NIGHT AFTER THE DAYTONA 500? "No, it definitely was a rough couple of nights afterward. Looking at the situation, I still think it was avoidable but when you're in the groove and leading the race and it's getting toward the end, you bat your eyelashes and something like that changes things. You're like 'man, that wasn't supposed to happen. This is the Daytona 500.' I was as prepared as could be, as focused as could be. It felt like that was almost a surreal moment. It wasn't supposed to happen, that's for sure. Just to be in that position and have that good a car is a testament to what Penske Racing is building. My comfort level at the speedways in the draft and all of that... Each time we go back we feel like we're closer and closer. That was definitely the best chance we've had to win at one of the plate tracks."

WERE YOU SCHEDULED TO BE ON TONY STEWART'S SIRIUS SATELLITE RADIO SHOW TUESDAY NIGHT? "No, I was at the Charlotte Bobcats game and Matt Yocum called me that morning. We talked about it and thought it was a good idea, and I had been reaching out to Tony for a couple of days, trying to say hello and talk to him and do what drivers do over the phone. We did it live on his show. Each day you have to put things behind you and look forward to the next week because that's how this sport is. It was the Daytona 500 and it was tough to swallow. Talking to Tony helped and looking at the tape and talking with Roger Penske about everything, we definitely had a lot to be proud of after the week was over. It was one of those Daytona 500 deals where you're there to win the race and you're either first or last. I think that's the way we both looked at it. I really enjoy the atmosphere at Daytona and excitement and the prestige of racing at Daytona is another thing. You keep trying to build it up and do what you can to win the thing. It's probably the equivalent of winning the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup except it's rolled into 10 days."

HAS THE TRACK CHANGED A LOT SINCE YOU WON AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY IN 2003? "It's gotten a little rougher and there's a little less grip. The groove has widened out. It's definitely not the same place and the setup has changed dramatically since 2003. Kenseth and Biffle look strong, and the 24 has been surprisingly quick. We have our work cut out for us to develop the off season changes we've made. I hope today's practice session gives it to us, but if we don't quite get it we've got 500 miles to work on it Sunday and then we've got Vegas in a couple of weeks after our Bristol test. We've got a lot of unknowns and hopefully we'll get settled in shortly."

ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THE CALIFORNIA RACE? "It's almost like we changed our swing or we changed our pitch and it's time to go out there and put it up against the competition."

ARE YOU AN NBA FAN? "Yeah, I go to the Bobcats games. I really enjoy (Adam Morrison's) game. The mentality he has out on the court is second to none. He's a cool guy to watch. He's definitely tough on himself, but he's starting to mellow out a little bit when he misses shots. You can't make 'em all. It's cool having a professional sports team in the town I live in. I love my baseball and I went to the Super Bowl with my Bears. I'm just an all-around sports guy."

IT LOOKED LIKE YOUR TEAM REALLY SUPPORTED YOU AFTER DAYTONA "It's a great atmosphere. We moved a couple of guys up in position for this season and hired one or two new guys. It's the second round for everybody. Everybody feels comfortable with what we did last year. They know what the future holds."

DO YOU NEED TO MAKE A MOVE OUT OF THE BASEMENT SUNDAY? "You want to win Daytona, but the points season starts now. We're behind. We can't ride the points we're ahead. We've got some work to do, but we've got a lot of time to do it. Some of the guys had negative points, so at least we don't have to overcome that."

WHAT WILL YOU WORK ON IN PRACTICE TODAY? "We'll work mostly on front end geometry. We made some changes last night, and we've got two hours between practices to decide what else we need to do. We should be in pretty good shape for Sunday."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Roger Penske
Teams Team Penske