All-Star: Kurt Bush - Dodge interview

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) NOTE: The Kurt Busch Foundation donated $1 million to Victory Junction Camp in a cememony Friday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The donation will fund an indoor 28,000-square foot facility for sports and...

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)

NOTE: The Kurt Busch Foundation donated $1 million to Victory Junction Camp in a cememony Friday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The donation will fund an indoor 28,000-square foot facility for sports and will be called the Kurt Busch Superdome.

"I can't believe I was able to come together with the Pettys and put this program together. It's a good launch for the Kurt Busch Foundation and how serious I am about it and the initiative to try to get kids into sports and put a smile on their face at the end of the day. We'll have some fun with it. I've been to the camp quite a bit and this will make it to where I really want to be there and put my hands in the mix and make a difference with the children. When you go to camp and see what Victory Junction Gang Camp is all about, it looks like a candyland to children. It's very special to me, and to have fun with it is the No. 1 thing. Your heart pours out to them (kids at Victory Junction Camp). They can't live ordinary lives or sign up for Little League baseball in their community. You feel like you can make a small impact in their lives if they've got a place where they can fit in together and all feel welcome."

COMMENT ON RACING IN THE NEXTEL ALL-STAR CHALLENGE "It's going to be hot and slick with hard tires, so you'll have to adjust for the car sliding all around and not giving up a solid grip on the racetrack. We're always excited when we come to Charlotte because there are question marks in the air in the All-Star race and the 600."

WHAT STANDS OUT ABOUT THIS RACETRACK? "I think it's just that it's the home of stock car racing, and that's validated with the hall of fame coming here. The atmosphere around Charlotte, everybody is close with all the race shops around here. You don't have to travel very far. You can sleep in your own beds at night. It's different than any other sport really because we all center ourselves around Charlotte."

WHAT'S THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE ABOUT THE TRACK ITSELF? "People have tried to build this track and have blueprints of it and go to Atlanta and build it or go to Texas and build a Charlotte. For some reason this racetrack has longer straightaways and tighter corners which makes the cars slide all the way through the corners with the higher speeds here. It's really unique. Tracks have tried to copy it, but haven't quite been able to copy it yet."

HAS THIS TRACK CHANGED A LOT SINCE LAST YEAR? "Very different, very different. This place had more of an identity of a Darlington or Atlanta where it chews up tires or is very aggressive on tires. You can run multiple grooves, such as Atlanta. Now it's in that pocket of what Texas looks like, the Chicago and Kansas race. In time it will develop back into that two or three-wide racing we're accustomed to at Charlotte. It's just like those inaugural events we had back in Chicago and Kansas in 2001."

DO YOU HAVE TO BE MORE CONSERVATIVE BECAUSE OF THE UNCERTAINTY? "If you do I think you'll get left behind. The track is so fast right now if you pick up just a little more speed you can cover the field that much quicker. There's going to be a few teams that hit on it and check out. We'll learn more once we get in time trial practice. When we practiced here everybody wanted to be single file, spread apart so they could get their cars dialed in. Now we'll see more side-by-side action."

WILL THE TRACK CHANGE THE NATURE OF THE ALL-STAR RACE? "I need to win that thing just to pay for the wedding. I've got a strong initiative this weekend. We'll see how it goes. The main thing is you start with the best car you can possibly build, and usually you save it for the 600. We had two cars turn out really good. They've both close and we'll bring our best car to the All-Star race, hoping we can dial it in and then bring it back next week for the 600. The optimum goal is to win the 600 for the points and prestige. It's not necessarily about the money."

ARE YOU MAKING PROGRESS WITH THE WEDDING PLANS? "I think we're rounding third base. I've struck out a few times, and I was sitting in the dugout pulling my hair out, but I think we're rounding third base now."

DO YOU HAVE TO CHANGE YOUR THINKING FOR THE ALL-STAR RACE? "It's still basically the same concept, but the tires are so hard. We can use 'em over and over again. That's going to be the main question. Do we stop and put tires on or do we just add fuel with the smaller fuel cell? I wish these tires would chew themselves up and we could use them for the floor at the Kurt Busch Superdome, but these tires are going to be around for quite some time."

HOW LONG WILL THE TIRES LAST? "That's the question we all want to see. Right now the question is how far do you want to push it? How far do you want to take it? We've seen some of the numbers in testing show the tires are at their peak at 60 laps. Who knows? How do you get there? Do you scuff them for 50 and then have them ready to go for your first 10 laps or do you put on stickers and be ready to go by lap 60? Who knows?"

COMMENT ON PROGRESS OF YOUR TEAM "It's more just new team, trying to get acclimated and knowing when there is a problem, who is the guy that's supposed to stand up. At Richmond we had a flat tire under green and our adjustments on the next pit stop were going to be to take some wedge out. We came in under an emergency and were only supposed to change the right-side tires that were flat, but the guy put the wrench in the back window, thinking we needed those adjustments. Then a tire rolls behind the car. We grab the tire, but yet it's a penalty because the tire was out of the pit box when I left. So is it the guy's fault because he put the wrench in? That's the adjustment we wanted to make, but was it a gray area call and we didn't get the right call on it? Those are the things where we have to position ourselves a little better and not have those things happen. At Darlington we had a good car. We made some adjustments to it and it went real loose. Then we were real tight. Then we got it back, but the race was coming to a close. We've had some great runs this year, just some small things that a rookie team goes through and that's because everyone is learning each other."

IS ROY McCAULEY THE RIGHT CREW CHIEF FOR YOU? "Absolutely. With his experience from open wheel and where he is as a crew chief from his Busch Series days, he's got that competitive edge that you call a fiery guy. He's definitely one to make the right calls, building the cars as well as from pit road."

DO YOU EVER WONDER WHAT MORE YOU HAVE TO DO TO GET THINGS GOING RIGHT? "I'm in this for the long haul. I've signed a multi-year deal with Roger, and we're looking beyond that multi-year deal now to look to put everything together for a big future project. Rusty built a great home at Penske and he's still a family member there even though he's retired. Those are the things I'm looking forward to because of the great people at Penske. Things aren't just going to happen in six months. We're here for the marathon. It's May. I got the same questions three races in. Are you going to make the Chase? We've stayed right at about 100 points from 10th. I signed up for the long term. If we're going to struggle a little bit here, we've got better things coming. It's just a matter of getting everybody on the same page. If you look at the team from last year, I think two guys are in the same spot."

IS THERE A POINT WHERE YOU WORRY ABOUT MAKING THE CHASE? "I don't think there's a real point (you worry about making The Chase). Kenseth said after the second Pocono there was no chance for him to make it. That was at the end of July. You still have the whole month of August to get there if you're in position, plus two races in September, so there's plenty of time."


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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch