KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Sharpie/IRWIN Taurus (Finished 5th) "To be able to bring our car to a test and perform as well as we did, it felt great to put together two days of testing and a full three days of activities at Martinsville. The way that...
KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Sharpie/IRWIN Taurus (Finished 5th)
"To be able to bring our car to a test and perform as well as we did, it felt great to put together two days of testing and a full three days of activities at Martinsville. The way that they resurfaced the race track, it was phenomenal the way that it raced with the asphalt to this concrete and the concrete back to the asphalt. In the driver's seat, it really felt great to have that type of grip and to have an opportunity when you did get side-by-side to race people. The tires were on the softer side and we seemed to abuse ours a bit more than some other teams. Early on in the day we led laps competitively up front and was somewhat trying to save the tires and to conserve a little bit with that lead we had, and then as the day progressed we seemed to just lose the handle with the front tires not turning as well and with the track filling in, it took our advantage away. So now we know next time that what we ran for a setup was a bit too aggressive, but it did give us a chance to lead laps competitively and to get that feeling that we could pick up a win today. We just didn't execute properly with the right adjustments made back on Saturday during happy hour, so next time around we've definitely got a better opportunity to try to come away with the victory."
WHAT ABOUT MOVING FORWARD NOW?
"It's a matter of keeping things in perspective. Our sponsors are getting excited and the team is definitely feeling a bit closer to things, but we have to definitely look at each event individually and each day individually with qualifying in Atlanta that's coming up next. I've got an IROC race that's gonna be raced on Saturday and, of course, Atlanta is a very fast race track. There's a tremendous draft as well as aero issues there and that's what we have to work on this next week. We've got our car built and we've had teammates test there at Atlanta, so it's just a matter of taking one day at a time and not getting too far ahead of ourselves. This was the halfway point. We're now past that and we can look forward to the final four races."
WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN THE 8 BEGAN STRUGGLING?
"As far as looking at the competition, that's the unique thing about our series and the way that points are gathered. Next week we could have a problem and be sidelined and it's too early to jump on a situation like that. If it was the last race of the year, it would be something different because there's no other opportunities, but with four to go, we're looking at the brighter side of our mechanical (equipment) and making sure we don't have any of those types of issues because those do hurt you in the championship battle. Those are issues that you have to stay away from and you don't really look at other teams and what they're doing. I saw the 24 a lap down today and he came back to finish strong again. He's had opportunities to slip and lose things, but, yet, he continues to put together great finishes such as our team. We saw Earnhardt's trouble today, but we can't get too excited about anything because we still have four to go."
YOUR CREW CHIEF SAID IN THE MIDDLE OF THE RACE THERE WERE SOME HANDLING ISSUES. IS THAT WHAT LED TO WEARING OUT YOUR FRONT TIRE?
"Yeah, those were the handling conditions that were apparent to us early on in the day, we just couldn't adjust for it with the proper adjustments that were allowed on pit road. We needed to change a couple of shocks and some weight distribution and really move some things around, but those are ideas that you find during the race. It's a matter of the team being able to go back through the information and decipher what's correct, so that when you come back next time, you've got a better opportunity to lead more laps and to lead when it's the proper time, which is at the end of the race. Today, we were just too aggressive. The car was flawless early on, but you could tell in the driver's seat and with the crew chief's mind that we were kind of too aggressive on the setup and had to get the best finish we could. We made some adjustments and came back up to finish fifth at the end. It wasn't like we were riding around."