KURT BUSCH (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T)
WHY WERE YOU ALMOST A HALF-SECOND FASTER THAN EVERYONE IN THE FIRST PRACTICE? "What's interesting right now is that we have the ability to do what we want in qualifying practice. You're seeing guys in race trim and guys in qualifying trim. We went out in qualifying trim and I think that I got a draft or at least the air was broken up when I chased Bowyer down right in front of me and that might have added to our car running a little bit faster. The only other car that we saw in qualifying trim was my teammate Brad Keselowski and Jeff Burton and those guys didn't get the perfect lap in. Our car was just perfect right off the bat. It qualified third here last fall and it's the setup that we started with today. The second run that I made was much slower. The track seems to be real fast in the beginning and then it slows up. Our goal was to go out right away, post a fast lap in case qualifying is rained out."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON HOW THE TRACK WILL BE AFTER THE REPAVE? "It's amazing how we set a track record last fall and with the surface the way it is, it's time for them to resurface it with all the cracks and harshness that you see in the asphalt. I think with the repaving it's going to be a great atmosphere for them to do something different and to add to the racing excitement with the variable banking. They're also going to tweak the dogleg and create a sharper dogleg on the back straightaway. It's going to change the whole outlook when we come back here for a Chase race with two to go in the fall. It's going to be a roll of the dice and I think it's smart on NASCAR's part to shake up the Chase a little bit with a new race track."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR APPROACH TO THE WEEKEND? "We felt that going out early (in the first practice) and laying down a good lap was important. We'll see how the second practice session goes. We still have one more set of stickers that we can put on our car for a qualifying run at the end. At the end of practice, it's going to be around 5:30 p.m. and we'll have optimum track conditions. We'll see if guys are picking up a lot of speed at the end. You're going to see the gap really close up here in the second practice."
HOW MUCH WOULD YOU PAY GOODYEAR TO BE A PART OF THE TIRE TEST HERE AFTER THE REPAVE? "It's going to be interesting to see who they pick and how they decide who's going to participate in the tire test. We're looking at a possibility of a tire test at Darlington. We've heard the possibility of a Kansas tire test. Phoenix is important because it's part of the Chase. You have to do whatever you can to be on that list. If it's up to me, you wouldn't have anybody that's in the Chase to come out here and test. But let's just say that my teammate (Brad) Keselowski doesn't make the top 12, does that mean that he can't come out here and test because his teammate is in? That's going to be a tough question for Goodyear to decide."
IS IT STANDARD TO NOT TALK TO A DRIVER AFTER AN ON-TRACK INCIDENT? IS IT JUST UNDERSTOOD THAT IT'S A RACING INCIDENT? "There's that thought that each driver has when something happens on track, nobody steps over the line. It's kind of just pushed away. I was going to reach out to Regan Smith today and tell him what a great Speedweeks it was for both of us. It's was the best Speedweeks that I ever had and I couldn't have done it without his help. Did it end up wrong in the end with him? For him, it was almost like hitting a pillow because he was able to get his car back out there and finish eighth. That was amazing for that to happen. The run that Tony Stewart and Dale Jr. had behind me, they were pushing hard. Could Tony have lifted? Yes. I was on the brakes as hard as I could not to run into Regan Smith. It's just one of those chain reactions that you know happens. I don't think Regan has any hard feelings on how they ended and finished seventh. He seemed to kind of push it off to the side. I've got to thank Regan again for such a great Speedweeks. Who knew that we were going to team up like we did and it turned out to be a positive effort for the 78 and 22 cars."
-source: dodge motorsports