Phoenix II: Kurt Busch post qualifying interview

Kurt Busch , (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) Qualified 3rd "I thought that we had a good run with our new R6 engine. We've had it in the car the last few weeks and thought that we would be able to sneak out a pole with the new engine, but to...

Kurt Busch , (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
Qualified 3rd

"I thought that we had a good run with our new R6 engine. We've had it in the car the last few weeks and thought that we would be able to sneak out a pole with the new engine, but to be third in qualifying, I'm really happy with that. That fact that Jimmie Johnson is hard to beat -- if he's going to beat us -- that's great. Jamie (McMurray) had a great lap as well. For us to start third is great track position. We look forward in having a good pit stall selection as well. It's funny because last week we were 30th on the grid and this week we're third. I thought that I drove about the same type of lap with the car. So we're still searching with our car at Penske Racing to find our exact niche, but third place is a great run for us."

IS IT FRUSTRATING THAT YOU COULD WIN THE RACE ON SUNDAY AND EVERYONE IS GOING TO TALK ABOUT THE CHASE?

"I think that there are great stories all around. The Chase format is similar to college basketball in the sense that you're always going to talk about today, this week, next week, you're always going to have those top teams that you're going to have your eye on. If there are five guys running for the top spot in the Chase, it's those five. For us, we know that we didn't make the Chase -- it's a disappointing season when you don't finish in the top-12 after Richmond, so you have to go to work and start getting after 2009 and next year. We'd like to be in the limelight. Miller Lite loves that, up front running well. If you're not in the Chase, you can't expect the coverage."

IF YOU WIN, DO YOU FEEL LIKE A PARTY CRASHER?

"It's more internal. I think internally it would be huge for Penske Racing to win on Sunday. Would we get perfect notarization if we win? The championship leaders are going to get the press. That's all part of the game when you're not running for the championship."

DO YOU FEEL OK COMING BACK TO PHOENIX DESPITE SOME HISTORY THAT YOU'VE HAD HERE?

"I still enjoy coming here; it's like a second home. I grew up watching races here - watching Alan Kulwicki win his first race, Davey Allison and Earnhardt Sr. -- those are the memories that I really have of Phoenix. To be able to have an honorary deputy badge from Sheriff Joe (Arpaio) a year later....only in America can that happen (smiles). I was happy to see him get re-elected this year and away he goes here again in Maricopa County."

YOU BEEN FRUSTRATED OVER THE RADIO THE LAST FEW RACES, WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THE 2 CAR?

"Finishing sixth at Atlanta was a great run; it backed up what did when we finished third at Atlanta. I think the radio is a personal tool that the teams need to utilize and not necessarily be broadcast over ever national airway. I'm really sensitive about it because I think that it's something private to our teams. We don't listen in to what head coach's say to their quarterbacks on the sidelines. We don't listen in to what's being said from inside the dugout over to the bullpen in a baseball game. Those are private airways I believe. There's always communication that's going on that's important, whether it's good or bad. I'm a guy that's always in it to give everything that I can, 100 percent every lap. Sometimes it's as PC as it should; to me I'm out there doing what I can to make sure that the Miller Lite Dodge gets its best result every week. Everything is great (on the 2 team) as far as I'm concerned. I enjoy working for Roger (Penske) and Miller Lite is a great sponsor to have on the car."

IS IT THE NEW CAR OR WHY IS IT THAT ONLY 10-12 DRIVERS THAT CAN WIN TODAY?

"That's a great question. This car was supposed to create more parity. It was supposed to create an equal playing field for everybody. What it has done is it has separated a select few and allowed them to win all the races. When I first started in 2001, there were 19 different winners. I think that might be the record. There were guys that were 25th in points winning races (three winners from outside the top 25) because cars handled different, cars drove different. It was a changing time in Goodyear's tires. It just seems like with this car, if you get hot, you're hot. Jimmie Johnson has six wins. My little brother has eight wins. Carl Edwards, the same thing. Carl Edwards had doubled his win total in one season with the year he has had. When you are hot with this car, you stay hot. I like the fact that now some of the team cars are running better, like Jamie McMurray here. They're running better. It's starting to transfer through. But guys like us at Penske Racing, we're struggling and we're clawing just to get to the top 15 and we're still stuck in that boat two years later. The car just hasn't worked out the way NASCAR had planned."

CAN YOU GIVE US A SENSE OF KYLE'S DISAPPOINTMENT GETTING OFF TO THE START HE DID IN THE CHASE?

"We haven't talked much in detail other than the fact I've let out my support for him. It just feels like he had the whole world in his palm to start the Chase and then to have everything yanked out from underneath him. It's not what Joe Gibbs and that team wanted. They had all the momentum. They had everything in the making for a championship run. Mechanical things happen. Engine failures happen. It's just tough to go through those when you've had such a good year. I think he's handled it like a champ. I think he is doing well. It only makes you stronger when you get that close to a championship and then lose it."

WHEN DRIVERS SPEAK TO THEIR TEAMS OVER THE RADIO, IS IT A MATTER WHERE YOU FEEL YOU HAVE TO BE FORCEFUL WITH YOUR POINTS TO MAKE THE TEAM UNDERSTAND HOW THE CAR IS DRIVING?

"I feel like the environment that we're in inside the car we can feel as calm as we are, but yet you're going 200 miles per hour, you've got someone on your rear bumper and you're always busy inside the car. You're heart rate is not at 80 like it is sitting in a media center, it's 180 when you're out on the track. Things come out quicker. Things come out more aggressively. It's up to the crew to decipher the correct information. Everybody is more animated when they are in the heat of the battle. That's what the radio exciting."

EVERY YEAR, THE CHASE GETS DECIDED EARLIER AND EARLIER. THE YEAR YOU WON IT (2004), IT WAS LIKE A FIST FIGHT. THE LAST RACE, THERE WERE LIKE FIVE GUYS WITH A CHANCE TO WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP. ARE YOU SURPRISED THE WAY IT HAS PLAYED OUT THE LAST FEW YEARS?

"I'm really surprised by that. I thought that 2004 was a great year for the Chase and it exemplified Brian France's reason to do it. The way that '04 was, I wouldn't want to redo it over again, every. Only winning the championship by eight points, every position counted on the track all the way down to Homestead. Like you say, each year it seems like it gets decided quicker and quicker. It's the same guy sitting to my left (Jimmie Johnson) that decides the quicker and quicker. The competition keeps getting tougher and it seems like there are less guys that are on their absolute A+ game than it was a few years back."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Carl Edwards , Alan Kulwicki , Davey Allison
Teams Team Penske