KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Rubbermaid Taurus (Finished 2nd) "It was quite a night for us. It was a lot of fun to race a race car that was that fast and just being given this opportunity from my father and from Jack Roush, just to go out on a Saturday...
KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Rubbermaid Taurus (Finished 2nd)
"It was quite a night for us. It was a lot of fun to race a race car that was that fast and just being given this opportunity from my father and from Jack Roush, just to go out on a Saturday and pass some race cars to try to get to the front as quick as I could. There was an agenda that we had the first segment, the second segment, and it started to deteriorate a little bit in the second segment and then, of course, in the third segment we all know what we needed to do, which is go to the front. We came up a bit shy, but I think we put on a great show. I had a lot of fun doing it and I had no idea a car would stick on the outside for that long."
WHAT HAPPENED ON THE RESTART TO BEGIN THE THIRD SEGMENT? "I noticed that they pulled that number 10 pill, which we all knew was gonna happen, so here we are in 10th. They wrecked a couple of cars, so there wasn't a full field of 14. It looked like the 21 car behind me pulled to the inside, so I was the last car on the outside lane. With the rules the way they're set up for The Winston, this is a restart, this is not the initial start so you can pass to the outside. So I saw an opportunity to make a pass because the way this front straightaway is shaped, the outside groove or no man's land opens up and you put it in there and see what happens. I think Harvick had the same idea. He hesitated but did get in that hole and I knew when my spotter said four-wide and I hadn't been across the start-finish line that we were gonna get pulled back. You just try things like that with fresh tires and see what happens."
IF THAT WAS THE 600 WOULD THAT MOVE HAVE BEEN OK? "That's the deal with The Winston is you have to know the rules and know what position you're in to do things differently. When you're in the 600, there's not double-file restarts unless you have lapped cars. When you're running 600 miles, you've got all day to pass somebody. So there are things you do in The Winston because you've only got 20 laps and you've got four fresh tires. You've got to go to the front now. I was gonna wait a lap, that's what Jimmy and I discussed, but then I thought if I waited a lap the front two cars would be gone and I'd never see them. So I thought I had to give myself an opportunity, which was to put it on the outside and pass cars. So on the second restart, Harvick found a lane on the inside and that opened it up for me to pass three cars by the time I came out of turn two."
WERE YOU AS LOOSE AS EVERYBODY ELSE? "Yeah, this is gonna be a big debate and we'll probably have more comments after the 600 on how things shape up. I did a Goodyear tire test here a year ago and thoroughly enjoyed the different experiments that they gave me to try out and for me to give them feedback so they could come up with calculations on what kind of tire to run. We were able to come to conclusions on what we should run at Dover by running here. We chose a new tire for the Dover fall race because in the spring race we had all kinds of blowouts at Dover, so I didn't really see the need to change the tire here. But what had happened is now that we've got downforce off these cars, they want to start softening up the tire a little bit. So we can't say that they softened it up a ton, it was just small increments in the way that tires are rated. There was a big thing in the pit area a few years ago with tire raters, all teams buying these $15,000 machines and parking them at the back of their haulers and rating tires. Well, now Goodyear does that for us. They give us a sheet and we see all of our tires. Our tire guy goes through 'em and positions each set the way it needs to be. All I'm getting at is that now these tires are rated at a specific number and they've taken away 100 pounds of rate off the right-front and the right-rear, so that made the car feel a little different. It for surely didn't match people's setups, it didn't match their shocks and they've obviously got these cars to where they're looser, so you put softer tires on the right side and it's gonna be looser. That's what happened tonight. We had to make adjustments accordingly. In happy hour yesterday the first time in the daylight we were awesome. We went out there at night and we were completely junk. We were gonna go to the back faster than anybody tonight, so we went wholesale on our changes. That's the way our team has been able to make adjustments on our Ford to get it to go forward."
JIMMIE SAID HE WAS RACING FOR THE INVERSION IN THE SECOND SEGMENT. HAVE YOU LEARNED A LESSON THAT YOU MIGHT APPLY NEXT YEAR WITH A SIMILAR FORMAT? "Why don't we put up money for passing race cars? I think that's what puts on a good show. I don't think playing possum puts on a good show. There are guys that position themselves to do that. I knew the 24 would, I knew the 48 would, and there were a couple other cars that you knew would position themselves to take that route. I was running fifth in the second segment and I said, 'OK, I'm gonna park it here. We're just gonna ride it and finish it.' But the fans come out to see a good show. It's not that I chose to pass cars, it just seemed like on that 30-lap run our car just kept getting better as the time went on. We picked up a spot, we passed Bill Elliott. We picked up another spot, we passed Michael Waltrip. Then there's a yellow. Now I'm third on a restart behind Harvick and Kenseth and we get an opportunity to lead the race. I thought that was a great show when we were racing the 29 - swapping the lead back and forth. There were cars high, there were cars low - we'd swap it again and run down the straightaway on the reverse side. That was a lot of fun. I was really gassing it up trying to enjoy the moment and trying to make sure we took care of our car to get to the final segment. I'm not saying it's wrong to play possum, but there are guys that choose to do that and there are guys that choose to race their car. It just ends up where at the end of the day it might not have been the fastest car that won the race. I'm not saying I had the fastest car tonight, I think the 18 was the fastest car."
DID YOU LEARN ANYTHING FOR THE 600? "There are things these two new right side tires, as far as the way they affect the Rubbermaid Ford's handling characteristics over a long run. Tonight, the car would start out tight, it would get good, and then it would get loose at the end of a run. So we went through a lot of different types of handling characteristics only in short runs and we know at the 600 there are long green flag runs. You've got to be competitive at the end of a run, so we've got a brand new re-built car. It's the car we finished second at Darlington. Obviously, we had to rebuild that thing and we'll give it our best shot at the 600. It turned out real well as far as it's specs and it's wind tunnel numbers and it's a much better car than what we ran here tonight. Hopefully, everything will go our way."
DO YOU ENTER THE CORNER DIFFERENTLY NOW BY ROLLING THROUGH? "With softer right side tires, obviously, you can't approach a corner as quickly with the right-front being softer because it's gonna dig in and make the car loose. When you've got a softer right-rear tire, you're able to get on the throttle sooner because it's got more bite. It's just like changing compounds on a dirt midget or any kind of car you're able to change compounds on, so it just presents a little bit different kind of fix that you have to put in with the front end because now you can't approach the corner very hard. You want to adjust for that. Now you've got the throttle on real early in the corner and you've got to make sure that you've got the bite to get off the corner. You just have to approach it differently now. You've got something working a little bit better for you on your right sides, but right now it feels like a four-wheel drift because there's not a match between the right sides and the left sides on the compounds."