KURT BUSCH (No. 22 Auto Club Dodge Charger R/T)

YOU ARE LEADING THE POINTS, THE ONLY DRIVER WITH FOUR TOP 10S; ARE YOU IN BETTER POSITION THAT YOU THOUGHT YOU’D BE? “I think that we’re right on par. It’s been a good start to our season. We haven’t had anything seriously go wrong other than the spin that I had at Las Vegas. We were running in the top-five at that point and (the spin) put us in the back at the halfway mark in that race. I had to charge up through there and our car was good enough and get back up in the top 10. We’re just looking for a good, smooth race again this weekend. You have to win if you want to build on the points lead; you just can’t maintain top-10 finishes. So that’s what we hope to do and go get a win.”

WHAT IS THE TRACK LIKE? HAVE YOU SEEN ANY WEEPERS? “I haven’t ventured down to the bottom on either end just to be on the safe side. Do I feel safe? Yes, I feel very safe. You’re taking the cautionary road plus the race track is bumpier on the low groove so it seems to benefit it you run a little bit higher. Just make sure that you don’t find any moisture.”

IS THE TRACK DRY AND HOW HAVE THE SHORTENED PRACTICES BEEN FOR YOU? “From what I can tell, the track is dry. It’s just a matter of having the confidence to venture into the bottom lane. For qualifying, we’re just trying to pick off a lap as fast as we can make it. You’re not necessarily worried about handling; we just have to get the speed out of it. The track seems to me to be safe. Tomorrow will provide more of an indication of how the car is. I expect the sun to be out and the track to be dry.”

FROM WHEN YOU STARTED IN THE SPORT TO NOW, HOW HAS PHYSICAL FITNESS CHANGED FOR THE DRIVERS? “It’s good that we wear driver’s suits; it good to cover up if we’re fit or not. You have to get out there and do the cardiovascular and do the strength training just to make sure that you’re not falling behind. Every part of the car is gone over with a fine-toothed comb these days to find hundredths of a second and driver fatigue can fit into that. I think drivers know that they need to be their best and a nutritional regiment as well as physical training and cardiovascular is key as well. It’s different from years past as the fun factor was definitely higher in the 70s and 80s with guys going out and having beers all night long and coming to the track the next day and focusing through it. You don’t see that as much anymore. The group is very committed. Everybody is trying to be their best in the race car at all times.”

IN GENERAL, DO YOU FAVOR SHORTENING THE RACES FROM 500 TO 400 MILES? “Yes, it seems to be a good fit. The way that information travels these days, people’s attention spans on how they want their information just seems like it’s tougher and tougher for a four-and-a-half hour audience to maintain that same channel the same day. It’s amazing how people can get their information through the Internet and through social media. Everybody’s mind just works quicker. I think 400 miles is a welcome addition to what we’re doing here at Auto Club Speedway. Other race tracks, you can do it as well. Pocono can be a long 500 miles. Would it make a difference if we went to 400? Sure. Let’s try it out and see how it works.”

WHAT NASCAR DATES DO YOU “CIRCLE” ON YOUR CALENDAR? “You’re pumped up no matter where you go. You have to be ready to race. Bristol is a race that I always circle. Las Vegas, Daytona and a place like Indianapolis is always circled. The weeks in-between, there are important races every week. We’re going to Martinsville next week. It’s not one of my favorite tracks, but they’re handing out 48 points if you have a perfect day. That’s what we have to do each and every week.”

IS THERE ANYTHING NEW IN THE PIPELINE FOR DODGE MOTORSPORTS COMING ALONG? “Not that I know. We’ve got a great group with Bryan Viger (Head of Dodge Motorsports) and Ralph Gilles (President and CEO of Dodge) that are very committed to the racing program. We’ve got the Dodge Challenger that’s over on the Nationwide side that I’d love to see here in the Cup series. We’ve got to have the pony cars over there in the Nationwide, which is a good way to sell cars. And then we have to have the sedans over in the Cup series with our Dodge Charger. We’re trying to sell as many vehicles as we can for Dodge. I know that 2013 is a target date to see the new cars out on the track and I know that all the auto manufacturers are working close together with NASCAR to make that happen.”

-source: dodge motorsports