Kurt Busch Darlington II qualifying press conference

KURT BUSCH --97-- Sharpie/Rubbermaid Taurus (Qualified 1st) NOTE: Busch is the first Raybestos rookie to win a pole this season and marked the third time he's been the highest qualifying rookie. Busch is currently second to Kevin Harvick in...

KURT BUSCH --97-- Sharpie/Rubbermaid Taurus (Qualified 1st)

NOTE: Busch is the first Raybestos rookie to win a pole this season and marked the third time he's been the highest qualifying rookie. Busch is currently second to Kevin Harvick in the rookie point standings.

HOW EXCITED ARE YOU?

"This is something not to be expected at Darlington, so I'm caught a little bit by surprise as is everybody else. We did have a good car when we unloaded and we had an awesome car when we tested here in the spring, but we got fogged out and had to come back here in the fall. We've learned some things during the summer that have helped us and we've been focusing on qualifying as of late during our tests. The qualifying effort we put forth at Bristol gave me some knowledge here and what we did at Kansas Speedway this week helped out again. I've just got to thank the Sharpie/Rubbermaid car for giving me the chance to dance with the Lady in Black."

DID YOU HAVE A FEELING YOU COULD WIN THE POLE?

"I would have done that in my early Craftsman Truck Series career. If I had a great practice lap, I would have thought that I could have gotten the pole. What has now happened in Winston Cup racing is the competition level is so fierce that anything can happen at any given point. A cloud can change a race car from a tenth to another tenth, so to have Jeff Gordon go as the last car just threw in that drama. To be in the front row would have been something I wouldn't have expected, but to have that in practice -- we did have a car that we knew could sit on the pole and could run up front in qualifying. It was just a matter of making that lap and being solid with my efforts and my inputs on the wheel, so I didn't really think about the pole, I just thought about putting together a lap that would get us towards the front."

DID YOU BRUSH THE WALL IN ONE AND TWO ON YOUR LAP?

"I was waiting for the right-rear to scrape the fence, but it never did. It was a matter of getting the car to turn under power. It's a situation where you rely on the tires to come in at a certain point and they came in right at that exact moment, so to speak. The tires Goodyear has right now are really hard to adapt to at a place like Rockingham and Darlington. It's a matter of not abusing your tires. At many tracks you'll see guys leaving pit road smoking the rear tires and swerving back and forth to heat up the tires. Here, you just want to run around on toothpicks. You don't want to abuse the tire so to speak, you want to use it to your best advantage and that's not to do anything on the warm-up through three and four and have the tires come in as the car takes effect in turn one and then drive all the through turn two. The tires are ready to slip and slide by the time you get to three and four, so it's a matter of getting through one and two. We put it on the line and the car stuck."

WHERE DOES THIS RANK ON YOUR LIST OF ACCOMPLISHMENTS?

"I don't know if they're gonna start handing out points for poles, but it doesn't mean anything for points. The prestige of having a pole at Darlington Raceway is unbelievable. To compare it to my hometown race track that I grew up on is probably the most comparable type of race track I can compare it to. There is no other track on the Winston Cup Series or the truck series that I can compare it to. At my hometown track in Las Vegas, the old race track there was a three-eighths mile where the groove was up on the high side, up by the fence. Both corners were completely different, such as turns one and two versus three and four are here at Darlington. To have that experience to drive on what many people didn't like to drive on out there in Las Vegas, which I thoroughly enjoyed, maybe had a little bit to do with my confidence going into today. It doesn't do any justice unless you back it up during the race. I'm hopeful that we can adjust on the car to make it to where it's competitive on Sunday, and that's a feat within itself to do here at Darlington. It's gonna be a matter of going 500 miles here. In the spring we had to do 400, so that's another challenge we have to overcome. This is just as high up there. Winning the finale in the truck series at Fontana was probably my most memorable and most exciting moment and this ranks right up there."

DO YOU BELIEVE A DRIVER MAKES HIS OWN LUCK?

"Luck is when opportunity meets preparation, so to speak. I got that quote from Hendrick Motorsports. That's something that Mr. Hendrick has said many times. It's just an opportunity that when you go out there you have to have a clear mind of what your mindset is and my mindset wasn't for the pole, it was for some constant, continuous momentum, which translates into a fast lap time for me. Just to have this opportunity to speak here in front of you is wonderful and to have that pole behind us is great and we're gonna move on with it."

WHERE DO YOU FEEL YOU ARE IN YOUR DEVELOPMENT?

"I think we've progressed more like what an average rookie team is supposed to do. We've had some great runs at a few race tracks. We've done well in restrictor-plate races and we've had our pitfalls on the short tracks. Qualifying at Bristol last week was a bit of a plus -- to be in the top 25 there, and again here, improving by 25 positions I had no idea would happen. As far as the way the team is now starting to jell, having Ben Leslie come along in mid-April as our crew chief. His first race was Texas and for us to do as well as we did there, the impact was immediate and bigger and better things were in our foreseeable future. Now things are starting to play out a little bit and, hopefully, we can build on this momentum. It's great that we were able to sit down as an organization and say we needed to focus on qualifying. For us to come out here and apply it to what we wanted to do, it just proves that we know what we're trying to think about and it's just a matter of having it happen."

WHAT WAS YOUR SPRING RACE HERE LIKE?

"Maybe I need to clear up what I mentioned before. When you sit on a pole, you hope to back it up and hope to run well during the race. It's gonna be a struggle to do so. An equal comparison is how we ran here in the spring, so we have to improve on that during race conditions. Hopefully, we'll be able to do that and the object of each weekend is to finish as high as we can on race day and not just qualifying day. To have a pole is a treat. It's wonderful. It's just like putting icing on the cake before you get to eat it."

JACK ROUSH, Car Owner --97-- Sharpie/Rubbermaid Taurus

"I was probably the most surprised person on the race track here that Kurt got the pole today. After the way we'd run last year and, of course, the way he tested in the few races we had I expected a pole early in the year. I'd settled in for a long siege. I figured this was gonna be harder than I thought it was gonna be initially and that we were not gonna get a pole this year. Kurt and Ben have been working really hard. They've been hunting and pecking all over the map on setups and things and I can't believe it happened here today. It's just wonderful."

-Ford Racing

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch
Teams Hendrick Motorsports