Ford Racing Kansas practice notes

Mark Martin and Kurt Busch ranked second and third in the first practice session today. The both went to the media center and discussed their progress. MARK MARTIN --6-- Pfizer Taurus CAN YOU COMMENT ON YOUR PRACTICE SPEED? "We were...

Mark Martin and Kurt Busch ranked second and third in the first practice session today. The both went to the media center and discussed their progress.

MARK MARTIN --6-- Pfizer Taurus
CAN YOU COMMENT ON YOUR PRACTICE SPEED? "We were close out of the box, but we only made three or four qualifying runs during the test. We spent a day-and-a-half working on race setup and I was really pleased with the setups that we came up with. I really thought we hit on something that I thought we could use at other race tracks, so I tried to apply that logic the next week at Darlington and failed miserably, but it sure seems to work here. I wasn't as pleased with the qualifying setup that we had, but we took that and sort of refined it today. You also have to realize that half of the field was working on race configuration during that practice, so not everyone has rolled out their big guns just yet. We hope we have more left as well, so I have to say I'm very pleased with how it's going so far. I really like the race track. I liked it when we were here testing and I think this is a great opportunity for a lot of my grassroots race fans since I grew up in Arkansas and raced a lot in Springfield and at I-70 when I was a teenager. So, I know a lot of fans in this area haven't had the opportunities to make it to Winston Cup races on a regular basis and they're pretty thrilled to have an opportunity to come here close by."

IS THIS TRACK MORE FORGIVING? "I think that comparatively speaking, for a new race track -- fairly new as Kansas is -- it is quite forgiving. It's more forgiving than Chicago was. Obviously, we like to compare it a lot to Chicago because it's very similar. It has more age on the pavement, which is one thing the Chicago race track really needed. As it gets some age on it, it will improve that race track and widen the groove out and make it much more raceable. This one has a head start towards that already."

YOU DIDN'T SOUND VERY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THIS WEEKEND. HAS TODAY CHANGED YOUR MIND? "I'm real realistic and that's something an awful lot of people don't understand. I think a lot of drivers and teams are not always as realistic or as honest as they might be. We have been off our game as of late and I was being realistic with that. I will say that we had a better test here and I was more excited about our race setup than I was anywhere else. I was much more encouraged with this test than the test that I had in Chicago, where we had a top-10 finish. We really had a top-five finish in the bag until the last caution, where we ran out of gas on the restart and then picked it back up. I have a different approach and, obviously, not everyone understands that. I just don't like to come in here and say that I think we're gonna win this race when I think that would be an uphill battle, even though we could because then if we run second I would supposedly be disappointed. Expectations would be for first place. A lot of people are different than that. They say they're gonna win every race, every time, every week, they say they're gonna win. I'm just different than that. I guess I have to be careful about what I say because I'm categorized as a gloomist or something because I have a different approach. I've always liked and I've always enjoyed having pleasant surprises. Hoping for a top 10 and winning. Expecting to have a reasonable run and having a spectacular run. That's my kind of day. The days I don't like is when I know we've got a top-five in the bag and we wind up finishing 18th. I'm extremely disappointed on those days, so I just have a little bit different approach to things."

KURT BUSCH --97-- Sharpie/Rubbermaid Taurus
HOW WAS YOUR PRACTICE? "My story is very boring and very similar to Mark Martin's, except my hometown is Las Vegas and my car is sponsored by Sharpie/Rubbermaid. Obviously, we're on the same plan that Mark has got with more race runs in the testing sessions and concentrating on qualifying now because of the time of day and the time of year now. When we tested here a month ago it was a bit different with weather concentration. The way we look at it is it's a great race track. It's very similar to my hometown race track -- Las Vegas. It's got a little bit more banking, which is what Las Vegas needed, so this is an ideal race track for me and the Roush-type cars. Hopefully, we'll be able to progress evenly across the weekend and what I mean by that is there are only about 10 cars or so in qualifying trim now. I think you'll see the field bunch up between four and five tenths is what it's gonna be from first to last. Right now, there's a good second or second-and-a-half separating everybody. You'll see the times bunch up very closely. The track is very competitive and we should put on a better show than what we had at Chicagoland."

IS THIS TRACK MORE FORGIVING? "The tires that we have here today aren't quite matched perfectly with the race track. They take a while to come in, so you're gonna see a lot of cars go out on scuffed tires. You might see a few accidents happen right at the beginning of the run after a pit stop and what I mean by forgiving is the track has less bank than what we had at Chicago. You might be able to slide around a little bit more and get away with an error here or an error there. You also have different aerodynamic changes that happen in race trim, so we'll see a bit more of that. My answer will be more defined in happy hour when you get cars nose-to-tail and bunched up in a draft."

WHAT ABOUT THE TIRES? "I'm not a Goodyear specialist to know which tire to choose and I really don't have the credentials, so to speak, to complain about the tires. I believe that any new race track you go to you have to bring a conservative tire just because you don't know the elements. You don't know the top speeds. You don't know the cornering speeds and you don't know how the tire is gonna react to the asphalt. Every part of the country has different asphalt and, for us, this is our first time in the midwest and this is a bit more further west, so it's a matter of getting the right compound, the right sidewall configuration and everything matched up perfectly. You're gonna see a lot of green-flag runs with this tire when they do get settled down and they're gonna last forever. Therefore, I believe the tire is a bit harder than what we'd like, but that's what it's been like all year long. It's not anything different from what we've experienced at Las Vegas to a Darlington that chews up tires."

MARTIN CONTINUED -- YOU DIDN'T SOUND VERY OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THIS WEEKEND. HAS TODAY CHANGED YOUR MIND? "I'm real realistic and that's something an awful lot of people don't understand. I think a lot of drivers and teams are not always as realistic or as honest as they might be. We have been off our game as of late and I was being realistic with that. I will say that we had a better test here and I was more excited about our race setup than I was anywhere else. I was much more encouraged with this test than the test that I had in Chicago, where we had a top-10 finish. We really had a top-five finish in the bag until the last caution, where we ran out of gas on the restart and then picked it back up. I have a different approach and, obviously, not everyone understands that. I just don't like to come in here and say that I think we're gonna win this race when I think that would be an uphill battle, even though we could because then if we run second I would supposedly be disappointed. Expectations would be for first place. A lot of people are different than that. They say they're gonna win every race, every time, every week, they say they're gonna win. I'm just different than that. I guess I have to be careful about what I say because I'm categorized as a gloomist or something because I have a different approach. I've always liked and I've always enjoyed having pleasant surprises. Hoping for a top 10 and winning. Expecting to have a reasonable run and having a spectacular run. That's my kind of day. The days I don't like is when I know we've got a top-five in the bag and we wind up finishing 18th. I'm extremely disappointed on those days, so I just have a little bit different approach to things."

-Ford Racing-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch , Mark Martin