Loudon II: Kurt Busch - Dodge Friday interview

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Avenger) THOUGHTS HEADING INTO THE CHASE: "First of all, it's good to be back in the Chase. After a year off rebuilding the team and getting things back up to speed it seems like everything has come full...

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Avenger)

THOUGHTS HEADING INTO THE CHASE: "First of all, it's good to be back in the Chase. After a year off rebuilding the team and getting things back up to speed it seems like everything has come full circle at Penske Racing. We've had good things all along happening to us, but who knew that we needed one little small change, and that was Pat Tryson a few months ago, to turns us from a contender into a championship threat. This feels good that we got the Miller Lite Dodge, the only Dodge, in the chase. We've got the banner raised high for Dodge and we are going to carry them through running our Dodge Charger and running our Dodge Avenger for the next 10 races. We'll see what happens. I've been involved in two Chases before and one turned out really good and the other was ruined two laps in, so we'll try to be somewhere in the middle this time around and see how it goes."

DO YOU FEEL THAT NASCAR SHOULD REWARD THE REGULAR SEASON POINTS LEADER? "I feel like we've made good changes all along to the Chase format. Whether it had been bonus points for win, whether it had been the Top 10 and now 12, it seems like each year there's a small thing that they change and by the end of it, we have to look down towards the end of the road - Homestead, to figure out how the new changes will take effect. I think it's been exciting that there has been a regular season atmosphere and now there's a post-season atmosphere. No matter if you were the best team in the regular season, in all the other sports when you go into the playoffs everything starts at zero again. It's even for everybody. I don't think it would make a difference if Gordon was leading right now by 20 or if Jimmie Johnson is leading by 20, if we're all separated by 60, which we are I think, it's pretty much zero. Sixty is about zero in our sport, where you could gain 60 points in a heartbeat. It'd be pretty much be, if you gave the regular season series leader 100 point edge that might be worth credit, but to be 20 points ahead of a guy or 30, that's not going to make a difference."

DO YOU HAVE TO BE MORE CONCERNED WITH CONSISTENCY THEN RACE WINS "Yes and no. I think you're right with how the others approached the final few races once they were already locked in -- yeah, go for wins. That's the only thing that makes sense because those 10 points will carry you into the Chase because those 10 points will go with you, but now when you win in the Chase you still get those 10 points above the second place finisher, and when championships are won and loss by eight points like they were back in 2004, wins will still be important, but yet consistency is going to pay dividends. I'd be surprised if you don't see the top 10 finishers this weekend be Chase drivers. It's going to be that intense and I think the caliber of drivers in this Chase is going to push each other harder to finish each week. When you are out there running sixth and there and you lose by a couple tenths of a second coming to the checkered flag those points you are going to worry about those two positions the next week."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT SWITCHING YOUR RIVALRY FROM DALE JR. TO KASEY KAHNE? "You know I haven't been following that very close. We've been worried about points and what we needed to do to get into the Chase. The people up in Milwaukee will be the ones to answer that question about how we view them and how we need to move forward with things. It's been a friendly rivalry I think, something extra outside the racing lines, with us throwing up the offer at the beginning of the last couple of seasons about changing the naming rights to our race cars and changing the naming rights to baseball stadiums, so I think the fun can carry over. We shouldn't look at it any different. Miller is a challenging brand that wants to challenge Bud all the time about making better beer. It'll be fun, but right now we'll worry about the Chase."

IS THERE ANY ADVANTAGE TO BEING THE ONLY DODGE IN THE CHASE? "I'd surely like to have more Dodges up there, but yet I think it can be an advantage, especially with my teammate Ryan Newman. I wish he was in the Chase and the two of us could race for a championship for Roger Penske, but when we got to the end of Richmond here we're in and he's out, so I think that he can go and research different set ups and try different things and give us that information right away. Like this morning's practice, he does have a different set up in his car trying to do things for 2008 as well as get this car into victory lane this year. And so if it's faster we're going to go use that set up, but if we were both in the Chase we would both have to have the same approach which would be to get best finish that you possibly can this season."

CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT IT'S LIKE TO RACE AT DOVER AND ARE THERE ANY SIMILARITIES TO BRISTOL? "There are a couple similarities. The concrete surfaces and how when it rubbers in and fills in with rubber and makes the cars a little tighter and makes them a little tougher to get around the track at the end of the race. The transition into the corners you really hit the banking hard because of the speed that you carry, but yet after that the differences get bigger as far as the size of the race track. At Dover you're always worried about aerodynamics because of the speeds that you carry on corner exit. You have to work on your cars attitude. Where at Bristol you can run with the nose way up in the air and the back dragging on the race track because you're always looking to get forward bite at Bristol, but at Dover you're always worried about speed. The two might look the same, but the speed that you carry is a considerable amount different."

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT SAM HORNISH RUNNING FOR PENSKE? "I'm excited for the opportunity to have a third Penske car out there. I think that he's borrowed one of our race cars that we ran earlier this year. It's exciting that we're going to have three teams to give input at the end of practice to talk and see what we can do to make all the teams better. He's first got to make the race and once he does that I hope that he's able to learn and get the laps in that he needs. And then the other thing is, I think it's just five races because he's running all of the COT races, I'm not sure it might be seven, but the focus would be to keep Sam in the frame of mind to thing Car of Tomorrow-type races. With five being left in the season I hope that he makes all five and he gets all the laps that he needs, and then who's to know what 2008 will bring for him. One thing that I do want him to do is grab this thing with both hands and take it right now, because his IRL season is done. He can focus solely on his Cup ride. Just grab it by both hands, so it and get into it so to speak."

FOR DRIVERS, WHAT CHANGES DURING THE CHASE? "I think just the general atmosphere is a little different with it being the post season, with it being the Chase itself now every position counts. Every practice session seems a little more important. This past week every one of us was in New York and celebrated with Brian France with a nice dinner and some of the spoils of being a NASCAR driver in the top 12. It makes you think that you've had a successful season already, and then at the same time you press the reset button because all the points are reset. Now you want to go out there and compete for a championship. As a team that has a couple wins and hasn't quite had some of the consistency of some of the top teams we are only 40 points out of the lead. Now it just seems like you have a new stage to go out there and race on. It feels like just brand new fresh cut grass for thing of the season. It feels like we are at Daytona again, except that it's a one-mile flat track up in New Hampshire."

WHAT CAN SOME OF THE DRIVERS IN THE CHASE CHANGING TEAMS OR CARS NEXT YEAR EXPECT AS THEY TRANSITION INTO NEXT SEASON? "I still think it is about getting the car out on the race track and making those four rubber tires stick as best as you can no matter which race team you're with or however it plays out. I feel proud to get Roger Penske back in the Chase. I guess that I'm the first driver to bring two different teams into the Chase, but there are other teams working on different projects and getting there teams built up, drivers feeling more comfortable with their crews and so it's business as usual. Your frame of mind is just looking all around in all different directions to make sure that you take care of this and take care of that and try to get things as comfortable as you can."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Roger Penske