NASCAR Winston Cup Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 97 Rubbermaid Taurus, put a storybook end to Ford's Centennial Celebration on Sunday with his win at Michigan International Speedway in the Sirius 400. Of the last nine NASCAR Winston Cup wins for...
NASCAR Winston Cup
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 97 Rubbermaid Taurus, put a storybook end to Ford's Centennial Celebration on Sunday with his win at Michigan International Speedway in the Sirius 400. Of the last nine NASCAR Winston Cup wins for Ford, dating back to last season, Busch and his Roush Racing team have been responsible for six of them. He spoke about a variety of topics recently, including this season's first road-course event this weekend at Infineon Raceway.
KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Rubbermaid Taurus
THE SERIES ANNOUNCED THAT NEXT YEAR CALIFORNIA WILL HOST TWO RACES. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THAT?
"There are a few different ways to view it. Obviously, we're gonna need bigger planes because I think we're making more west coast trips. We'll go to California twice, possibly Vegas twice and Sears Point is a great race track to hit as well. It's tough because I love Darlington and Rockingham and I hate to see those two races moved around. There are other tracks and other things that I'm sure NASCAR is working on the best agenda for all of us. More west coast trips are great. I think the fans out there deserve more - not that the southeast guys don't because they have the heritage and the sport was based here - it's just a fact of different markets, different groups, different sponsors and just growing our sport. I think they're taking the right steps to take us to the next level."
YOU MENTIONED SEARS POINT, AND THAT'S UP NEXT. ROAD COURSES ARE A KEY TO THE CHAMPIONSHIP, RIGHT?
"A lot of emphasis is put on those races because they can make or break your season. I like Sears Point, and Watkins Glen is a great race track. We had great results last year at those two road courses, but I wouldn't mind if they threw in another one like Road America - a four-mile race track. It would be a nice twist. There are a lot of things that we do that we have a lot of fun with and road-course racing is one of those."
YOU RECENTLY HAD A CHANCE TO BE WITH SOME RACING LEGENDS DURING FORD'S CENTENNIAL. WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS?
"When Edsel (Ford) got up to speak it seemed like there was a whole different identity within the room. I was having a hard time understanding if the room got bigger or smaller when he announced all the names that were in there. I felt like I was in a group of elite motorsports legends and I felt somewhat out of place with all the names that were in there. It was wonderful to talk with Parnelli Jones and Dan Gurney and Dorsey Schroeder. I got to talk to Ned Jarrett after he won the Spirit of Ford Award. It was unreal the number of down-to-earth guys that have created what Ford Racing is today and how they've got probably the most respected brand in all of motorsports."
WAS THERE ANY LEGEND IN PARTICULAR THAT YOU ENJOYED?
"I really just tried to take it all in. There was Tom Gloy, who was an SCCA guy and got into truck racing. I talked to Dorsey Schroeder. What amazed me is that you think of something like the Gurney lip. We all hear about it and there's Dan, the guy that it's named after standing five feet away from you. I mean, it's kind of like medicine and something is named after you. In auto racing it's that much more special."
IS THAT MOTIVATION FOR YOU TO SEE THOSE GUYS SITTING THERE AND TO SAY TO YOURSELF, 'I WANT TO BE ONE OF THOSE GUYS WHEN I RETIRE?'
"It's very pleasing to see those guys and to know that I've got an opportunity to do that and it is motivation. It makes you want to give a determined effort to go forward and try to carry out what Ford Racing has done in years past and to be part of that heritage and history. You get a little bit light-headed because you're grouped in with these guys and maybe one day I'll have young kids that come in and look at me the same way."
DID ANYONE COME UP TO YOU AND SAY THEY WERE A FAN OF YOURS - SOMETHING THAT BLEW YOU AWAY?
"It was just impressive to take pictures with those guys. I didn't really feel as though I fit in, but everyone made me feel comfortable. You could feel when you posed for a picture and looked into the lens that it really meant something to them."
THE TRUCK SERIES IS COMING UP ON ITS 200TH RACE. HOW FAR HAS THAT SERIES COME?
"It's really developed. It's taken its own identity because you've got such a different diverse group of drivers as far as Late Model racers and proven champions like from the Featherlite Southwest Series where I'm from. You've got guys from the open-wheel ranks and Late Model guys from the Southeast, so there is a wide variety of drivers and that's what makes that series exciting. Craftsman has taken the lead sponsorship role. When I was back there running in 2000, they signed a multi-year contract and that series has a lot of potential. The races are always exciting because there is always some strategy involved. They go to big tracks and little tracks alike, so it's a fun series to watch."
Mark Martin, driver of the No. 6 Viagra Taurus, recently announced that he would be returning to the Busch Series on a limited basis next season. Martin, who is the all-time winner with 45 Busch Series victories, recently spoke about that decision and the challenges he will face.
MARK MARTIN - No. 6 Viagra Taurus
WHY HAVE YOU DECIDED TO GO BACK TO BUSCH SERIES RACING?
"When I left the series I never said I'd never do it again. I certainly wouldn't do it on the same scale when I was doing 15 races a year. I actually really wanted to do five races this year, but we didn't get the sponsorship stuff together. It takes a little time to make things happen, so I was a little bit disappointed about this year. I hadn't thought much about it, but, typical me, it's pressure. Why? Expectations are very high. It's got to be 10 times harder for me to come back and run like I ran when I left because we're totally out of touch with what's fast now and what's working now. That was a specific Busch team and Busch deal and Busch stuff. That wasn't a bleed off of Winston Cup. That 60 car was a stand-alone, built-on-time-and-experience kind of performance. It wasn't something that in our part-time we did with Winston Cup technology, so it's gonna be an uphill battle and I guess that's the way I like it. I choose to view it as intense pressure on me to come back and have a car that will perform like I had the last year I raced."
WHAT KIND OF CREW WILL YOU HAVE?
"I have no idea who will work on it. All of the guys are gone that were there in 2000, but we'll work all that out. I don't know anything as far as a car number or where we'll race or what we'll do. I don't know who is gonna be the sponsor, although I think there are two different companies that will be doing the races. I don't think it will be more than four, but it's a long way away. Unfortunately, Jeff Burton's Busch team has basically dissolved as well, so it'll probably be something we pull together from scratch and how we can make the most sense out of it. It's still too early to worry about that."