Watkins Glen International August 8, 2010 An interview with: KURT BUSCH - 2nd finisher MARCOS AMBROSE - 3rd finisher KERRY THARP: Let's roll into our post-race press conference. We have our third-place finisher, the driver of the No. 47...
Watkins Glen International
August 8, 2010
An interview with:
KURT BUSCH - 2nd finisher
MARCOS AMBROSE - 3rd finisher
KERRY THARP: Let's roll into our post-race press conference. We have our third-place finisher, the driver of the No. 47 Little Debbie Toyota, Marcos Ambrose. Marcos, a big weekend for you here at the Glen, a victory here yesterday. How did you think things went out there for you today?
MARCOS AMBROSE: It's been a good weekend for me. I got to tell you doesn't feel nice finishing third. I want to win so bad in the Cup Series, this was a really good chance for me. We had a good racecar. Something went wrong in the last pit stop. We lost the handle on the racecar, maybe a different set of tires, slightly different spring rate in the tires. We lost the handle on it.
I had nothing for Montoya there towards the end. Congratulations to him. He drove a heck of a race. Just a lot of fun racing a guy with that much talent. He was swinging around the corners, jumping curbs, locking tires. It was just a really good battle, something I'll take away from this weekend as a memory I'll never forget.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for Marcos.
Q: Right up until the last restart, seemed like you were having trouble coming up to speed. Is there a reason why?
MARCOS AMBROSE: Yeah, there's always a balance between fuel mileage and drivability. We had a great carburetor on Friday. Running some mixtures on it. Didn't have any issues.
But today it stumbled trying to get power down in these cars, it's difficult. Have to be nice and smooth on the gas pedal. The carburetor would have a hiccup, I'd blow the tires off it. It was a drama. It didn't help.
It's not what cost us the race. The last set of tires cost us the race. Something happened. We didn't change tire pressure, didn't do anything. The car went away on us and it was a handful.
Proud of the guys. Proud of Little Debbie for being a supporter of mine. Three years ago to the today was a Little Debbie race for me here and I feel proud that I finished in the top three every year for them. It's been fun. It hurts not to win, I've got to be honest. Doesn't feel nice.
Looking at the weekend as a whole, winning and a third, a pole position, it's been a good weekend for me considering I haven't locked in my 2011 plans yet.
KERRY THARP: Thank you, Marcos. Enjoyed you being here this weekend. We'll see you next week.
Kurt Busch finished second today. You had to feel good about how things turned out there today for your race team.
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, it was a great effort. Real proud of the way our race went today. Didn't seem like there was one single hiccup. We got solid pit stops, solid strategy. Just the way that we came together after yesterday's practice, not knowing if we had enough speed, we changed quite a few things on the Miller Lite Dodge. Steve Addington, the guys, are very smart. They're on top of their game. I really enjoyed today's race.
It gave something to me personally to run good on a road course. But team satisfaction to change as many things as we did to have some speed. To come up short just to Montoya, to beat Ambrose, racing with those two world class guys, it was fun, I learned quite a bit. There's still some room to grow on road racing.
Feels good to bring it home in second, Miller Lite and Dodge, we're pulling the banner for Dodge this year. Any time we can have a close shot at victory, that's what Roger Penske always says, Put yourself in position to win, you'll get those.
Great spotters all the way around the racetrack. It just feels like a perfect day other than the one guy that was a little faster than us.
KERRY THARP: Questions for Kurt.
Q: Do you believe in karma? For those of us that do, you're looking at the 48, he finishes 28th, you get a lot of your points back from last week, it's a great day for you.
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, points are points right now. Bonus points are the most important to take with you to the Chase.
We feel comfortable in our points position. I know they do. Once the Chase starts, that's when every point counts. That's when you don't need to take risky bump-draft moves or find yourself in a tight position that you don't want to be in.
So you don't want to wish bad upon anybody. For us, we had a solid day. I was real proud of my effort today and the guys' effort. Just seemed like one of those type of feelings where, hey, everything is clicking, went in the zone. 90 laps felt like 40 laps for us today.
Q: How important was it today to know when to take chances and when to play a little safe and be consistent?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, it's always tough to get those restarts and separate yourself. That's when you're taking a little bit of a risk or you really got to be on the aggressive side because you can get bottled up real quick. That's where the double-file restarts have changed our game.
Once it would stretch out, you wanted to run a comfortable pace, but you wanted to maintain pace with the leaders. I couldn't quite do that. Ambrose beat me a couple times getting into turn one, I know Montoya was strong as well.
To race with those two guys, I was definitely feeling the groove today, just came up a bit short.
Q: You mentioned the world class nature of it. Can you put in perspective what's that like, finishing third to an Australian, a Colombian? Does having those guys in the series raise the game of road course racing?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, the thing I was looking forward to was those guys' lack of experience, so to speak, in finding the pace of the race. We've seen guys like Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Rusty Wallace win at road racing because you have that oval mentality, background, wait till the end to attack, don't run every lap on that ragged edge.
My thought was today the Colombian, the Australian, would rough each other up running aggressively not knowing when to pace themselves. But what I noticed, because I finished second, Ambrose was third, is the fact that they have matured into the realm of what it takes to be competitive at Sprint Cup levels. Their backgrounds are very different. But so is Sprint Cup racing. So is NASCAR.
They've done a great job and peaked really well in the three, four years they've been in it to put themselves in position to run well road racing.
I felt like today was a big morale victory to come in between those two guys because of the different backgrounds of racing, the way they've matured. If Ambrose wouldn't have stalled his car, he would have taken Sonoma.
Q: Has road racing improved in NASCAR overall?
KURT BUSCH: It's a unique feeling. Each time we go to Sonoma, Watkins Glen, who is going to be the big daddy at the end of the day.
Q: The Penske, Ganassi story continues today. You guys have run 1-2 several times this year, competed for poles. Seems you are fast at the same places. Is that coincidence?
KURT BUSCH: It is coincidence. It's always fun to bring a Penske car home in front of the Ganassi car. Those guys beat us today. Their road racing program is very strong, even if you take Montoya out. McMurray was good today. Look what they do in the Grand-Am Series. They're dominating. They have a comfortable lead in points in the Grand-Am situation. Ganassi is able to cross-pollinate that like we are with our IRL program to find some different areas to polish up on, to make the car as best as it can be.
Roger will feel very pleased about today's effort. I know he will. But there's always that little bit in him that says, Hey, you let a Ganassi car beat you.
Q: Can you talk about the pass you made on Marcos. For so long he was so dominant, then you blew by him.
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, again, it gets back to how do you set your pace and how do you know you're right on that edge of slipping a tire or overshooting a braking zone. Those guys were right on that edge all day. I felt like I kept my car at 97%, 98%, left that extra 2% just for that edge.
I can't deny the fact they're just better than me on a road course. When I saw two to go and Ambrose slipped up big in turn one, I chewed away. He had 15 car lengths on me. I chewed away 11 on them. I said, I'm going to let it rip, take that extra chance, go for the second place, put the feather in the cap for the guys and myself. I got in there light, he drove in heavy, he ended up overshooting the corner a little bit.
Maybe I did leave a little bit out on the table all day today, but I don't think I could have caught the 42.
Q: How does your finish today prop you up for the stretch run of the season?
KURT BUSCH: It's a solid finish. The tough part is a 33rd last week, a second today, you divide that by two, that's 17 and a half. That doesn't get it done when you're in the Chase. It does help ease the pain as far as where we are in points. We came up a bit shy of winning. When you win, you get to take those bonus points with you to the Chase.
To come up shy of those 10 points, can't be too upset because Montoya really had us beat today. Overall, just for us to finally put a nice exclamation point on a road course race without having anything go wrong, not running out of fuel, not having a flat tire, not getting run over by a Hendrick car feels pretty good.
All right, we're done (laughter).
Q: Can you talk about the 42, the dominance he showed.
KURT BUSCH: Montoya is a world class athlete. The way he drives on road courses, there's always something to learn and there's always something to pick up. The way he's matured over the years of his first win at Sonoma, they won by a big fuel mileage game there. Today he just had raw speed.
What I told him in Victory Lane, I was real proud of the way he raced Ambrose. He raced him smart. Didn't race over his head. Maybe he settled into that Sprint Cup mentality of, I have to be here at the end, I don't have to really run that Formula One pace every lap.
KERRY THARP: Thank you so much. Nice performance out there today. Good luck at Michigan.
KURT BUSCH: Thank you.