Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 97 IRWIN/Sharpie Taurus, and Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 National Guard/Subway Taurus, held Q&A sessions in the Richmond International Raceway infield after Friday's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series practice. KURT ...
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 97 IRWIN/Sharpie Taurus, and Greg Biffle, driver of the No. 16 National Guard/Subway Taurus, held Q&A sessions in the Richmond International Raceway infield after Friday's NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series practice.
KURT BUSCH - No. 97 IRWIN/Sharpie Taurus
YOUR PIT CREW WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP ON MONDAY.
"It was pretty special for our team to not even get any practice on Saturday night and then to come out there on Monday in an IROC-type competition, that's what I was real proud of is that the guys practice their stops at the shop and they go through all the motions of what you can do as a team to pick up a tenth here or there, but to do it with the same car that everybody else is doing it on and doing it in an unfamiliar place, that was something pretty special for the team. To get the $100,000 bonus is very special and we thank Tyson for putting that money up, and then to go for the $500,000 bonus and to come up just a bit shy - I would have had to match that $500,000 bonus if they would have gotten that award, which is pretty special for our team. Knowing that we won the championship last year and the way we started off this year, the team is doing really well with earning their bonus money over the wall and that adds to it. They've got a great trophy and I'm real proud of them."
WHAT DO THEY DO REALLY WELL ON PIT ROAD?
"They're a group that if we come in third, we know we can come out of there in the top five - whether it's in the lead or fifth. Let's say we come in 15th-20th, we know we're gonna pick up spots. We get excited about that challenge of if the car is off a little bit, let's make an air-pressure adjustment so we don't sacrifice time in the pits, and then, boom, we jump up to eighth or ninth place and then we're able to race in a better competitive spot out on track. Teamwork is what it takes. You can't have one ingredient and be missing another, whether it's for the championship or the Tyson Pit Crew Challenge."
DID YOU PUT UP THAT $500,000 BEFORE OR AFTER?
"I saw that they had a legitimate shot when they went after it and they actually beat it in the front - a 14.1 in the front and like a 14.9 in the back, so it's tough to swallow it like that, but to have an opportunity to go for it was one thing and if they were able to get it, I would have had to match it just because of how special it was. We're actually going as a team to the Victory Junction Gang Camp up in Randleman in three or four weeks, in June, as a team to go up there - as a championship group - to represent to the kids and just have a play day with the team and to do the pit stops for the kids to have interaction and everybody is gonna have fun up there at the camp, so it's a great team atmosphere."
WHAT IS THE KEY TO ROUSH RACING RUNNING SO WELL?
"What we have at Roush that not a lot of teams have are five teams of course, but within the five we work as one. When somebody goes and tests, I think the information is brought back 100 percent and then it's divvied up amongst the teams and utilized. So when Biffle comes here to Richmond and test, we get that information. And if we go to Indianapolis and test, we give them that information so it goes back and forth. We work together six days out of the week and we go to race on the seventh, and all of us get along. I think that's the key element."
WHAT WAS YOUR INTERPRETATION OF WHAT HAPPENED SATURDAY NIGHT?
"Saturday was a frustrating night. To wreck on lap one and then to have the crew work on the car and go back out, and realize our potential with such a disappointing looking car and then it was disappointing to run those lap times 60 laps down. Our car was very competitive. And then there was a misunderstanding when a yellow came out to get behind the pace car, so I was frustrated at the time. They reacted, I overreacted, and then we talked about it in the trailer afterwards, which is the best way to talk about it. You can't talk about it over the radio. It's not a good trip to make to the trailer, so we went inside, we discussed it, and we got things straightened out."
HOW DID YOU OVERREACT?
"I overreacted with, 'why am I going two laps down,' because I was getting behind the pace car, but I didn't do it in a timely fashion. So it's tough. You're 60 laps down. It's a frustrating day and it really didn't have any outcome overall on the race, but, yet, I'm not there to bend any of the rules. I'm there to abide by them and as the champion to represent the sport that day."
KURT BUSCH CONTINUED - WHAT HAPPENED WITH THE WATER BOTTLE?
"It was a frustrating moment in the pits. We wanted to get on with our day. We were 60 laps down, so I talked to NASCAR about that and apologized, and we got everything set straight."
DID YOU THROW THE WATER BOTTLE AT AN OFFICIAL?
"Like I said, it was a frustrating day. When you're 60 laps down you're trying to make ends with just getting the race over and it was tough because what made it so disappointing was the lap times our car ran after we wrecked."
IS IT MORE IMPORTANT TO FIGURE THIS TRACK OUT FOR THIS RACE KNOWING IT WILL BE THE LAST ONE BEFORE THE CHASE IN THE FALL?
"This is a huge race in every aspect, whether it's the final race of the regular season or it's the race leading up to the chase. In that time of season there are mind games going on and if you can win here, it leads right into Loudon, which is the sister track of this race track, so this place now has a special value to it because of the importance of the race - either making the chase or setting the tone for what can happen during the chase."
IS RIR MORE OF A LEVEL PLAYING FIELD FOR THE TEAMS?
"It's tough to say with this place being so close to a speedway, but yet it has a short-track atmosphere and background. Anybody can win at any track, but right now Hendrick and Roush have gotten the advantage and are off to a great start this season with the setups for the mile-and-a-halves and the two-miles. So don't be surprised to see a Bobby Labonte run well here. Harvick won at Bristol, he'll be strong. And then you've got your Dodges that ran so strong last fall with Mayfield, Kahne and Newman, who will probably be strong as well, so it's anybody's ballgame this weekend."
WERE YOU FRUSTRATED WITH THE FACT JEFF GORDON WAS BEHIND YOU WHEN YOU SPUN?
"It's early racing and it's tough at Darlington to race early on, but yet you want to set the tempo with keeping your pace and running your laps at your speed. So the track challenges you to race other cars as well as race the race track. That early in the race, I made a big mistake on cold tires and putting it on edge that quick, so we slipped right underneath Rusty. It was good that I didn't collect those other two guys just because everybody was racing so hard so early."
ARE YOU SURPRISED HOW MUCH ATTENTION YOUR INCIDENT AT DARLINGTON HAS GOTTEN AS FAR AS THE PENALTY OR NO PENALTY?
"Anytime you go into the NASCAR hauler, you don't want to go in there. It's a scenario where you listen quite often and you speak in very short words. You get your point across quickly because the mother hand is on top and by no means did we escape anything. It's tough when you go into the hauler. With us racing into the next week, we've got to put that behind us because Richmond is a great track for us to try to win and it's a similar type track to Phoenix where we won earlier this year, so we're on to the next race."
DO YOU FEEL THAT THIS INCIDENT IS A RESULT OF BEING THE CHAMPION?
"That has its elements to it and with us being in such a weird situation with wrecking on lap one, that's not expected of the 97 to do that. So mistakes happen. We're disappointed that we had such a good car and that's what led to the frustration because we were able to run competitive laps with the Irwin Industrial Tools Ford looking like a hunk of junk."
YOU'VE WORKED HARD TO IMPROVE YOUR IMAGE AND HOW YOU HANDLE SITUATIONS, IS THIS A SETBACK FOR YOU?
"It's frustration out on track and I think anybody is entitled to slipping and to showing their frustration. Being able to move on and to admit to it is the next phase and then you go to the next week with a fresh attitude to win the race."