KURT BUSCH - No. 97 IRWIN/Sharpie Taurus (Finished 3rd) "We did better than I thought we could do today. It was an awesome effort for our Sharpie Ford with the competitive advantage that the Roush guys have seemed to have had here at this, we...
KURT BUSCH - No. 97 IRWIN/Sharpie Taurus (Finished 3rd)
"We did better than I thought we could do today. It was an awesome effort for our Sharpie Ford with the competitive advantage that the Roush guys have seemed to have had here at this, we just didn't quite slide into Victory Lane like we thought. But it was a super effort. We had to overcome a bad pit stop that put us in the back, but we were able to charge our way back to the front. I didn't think we had enough time, but the only time I beat my little brother today was to the media center. He was pretty stout. I'm very proud of him. Just to watch him up there compete with the best of the best today, he did a super job. I officially have to cut it off now. No more advice for Kyle because he beat me."
WHAT KIND OF BRAGGING RIGHTS WILL THIS GIVE KYLE?
"He did it at Vegas of all places. He knows he's got work to do with his team and getting himself comfortable at all the race tracks, but he definitely can take the four-wheeler and spray rocks on the side of my truck if he wants. He did a great job. I'm real proud of him. I'm beside myself really because I didn't expect this from him so early, but I talked him up like he couldn't do any worse and he was really coming together quicker than I thought, but those Hendrick guys will take care of him."
IS HE STILL GONNA BE THE SHRUB?
"I knew this was gonna be a roast when I came in here today (laughing). No, he's my little brother and he's being taken care of by the Hendrick group, Kellogg's, and everybody over there is gonna help him mature as a 19-year-old. He will eventually race in the Bud Shootout one day, so I've got that one-up on him, but he's gonna be competitive and we'll see how he does at some of the short tracks coming up because that's where we go after Atlanta. We go to Bristol and Martinsville."
YOU MUST FEEL GOOD WITH THIS BEING YOUR BEST FINISH HERE.
"Yeah, for me I'm very excited about our finish. I didn't know that we would finish as well as we did and then after the problem we had I thought we were buried because it is tough to maneuver your way back up front. For us, it was a great effort. Each of the years that I've been here we've had small things happen to us. In my rookie year, you're a rookie once and you finish where you can. I ended up 11th. I think I've blown up a motor. I think I've crashed once. Last year we finished ninth, so this year was my fifth run to get a top five. It's great because all the excitement and the fans - you come off a championship year and you've got a checklist of what things you want to do and Vegas is definitely on my check list."
WERE YOU MORE RELAXED THE LAST FEW LAPS TODAY?
"The championship definitely taught me a bunch of different things that I didn't know. With running in the top 10 every week and having to finish as if every race was the last race during the chase last year, it teaches a driver more patience than anything and when you have patience to look at what lap is what and when to attack a race track, then you're more comfortable and you actually gain speed out on the race track. Kyle proved today, just as anybody can, you have to have a car that's dialed in and overcome all the obstacles and when you've got a fast race car like that you can dial it in. We just weren't that good today. We were just a little bit off. Kyle finished second and Jimmie Johnson won, so congratulations to those two."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE TO HAVE A SECOND RACE AT LAS VEGAS?
"The track definitely has proved that it's worthy of two dates. It's obviously not owned by the group that controls where we go and race. Bruton (Smith) does a great job with all of his tracks - with Bristol and Atlanta - Sears Point. Everytime we go to any of these race tracks they prove and they stretch out everything that they can - even the people that work here - as thin as they can so that they put on a great show. It would make sense. Logistically, it would be a nightmare to get traffic scienced out during a night time event. We're definitely open for the opportunity, it's just a matter of getting everything dialed in behind the scenes. We know NASCAR is continuing to change and heading in a southwestern direction from the southeast, but all over the country there are people wanting two dates, so this place has definitely got its challenge ahead of it."
IT APPEARS TO BE ROUSH VERSUS HENDRICK EARLY ON.
"It's gonna be a fun battle all the way to the end. That's what it was last year with me and Roush Racing trying to beat two Hendrick cars for the chase for the championship. To start off this year with Gordon in Victory Lane and Biffle and now Johnson - with us having three top fives - you could say that Hendrick and Roush definitely have a distinct advantage over the other groups. But I saw Penske out there today and they were very competitive. Tony Stewart was lingering around. I see him making strides, so the Gibbs cars will be there. Ganassi is gonna hit on it. I think the tires - if you can remember back to 2001 - we had a big tire change and there wasn't a single Roush car that won a race that year. So this year with the tires, they just have matched up with our cars and the Hendrick cars and away we go. I know the other teams will definitely be working overtime to catch us, whereas we might get stalled out with the knowledge we have right now. But we're definitely riding a high with the way we came off the championship last year. To start off with these great finishes, I'm happy."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE ODDS MAKING HERE IN TOWN?
"With looking at the odds being here in Vegas might be the only time we pay attention to it. But to have Kyle at such a good bet, it would make sense to put money on him or a guy like Joe Nemechek at 25:1 or something. With me being 8:1 or 10:1, it's a good bet but you're not gonna get that payoff. Vegas is fun with that aspect, but, obviously, we have to focus on the race car and every fan that's out there is saying, 'I've got money on you.' It's like, 'Man, everybody's got money on me.' There's a pot of gold at the end of the race track, too, so we're going for that."