Bristol II: Kurt Busch - Dodge Friday interview

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Avenger) THOUGHTS HEADING INTO A TRACK WHERE YOU HAVE WON FIVE TIMES "The biggest project is to get some track time. It's a brand new racetrack and you can't take anything for granted. It's a first time for ...

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Avenger)

THOUGHTS HEADING INTO A TRACK WHERE YOU HAVE WON FIVE TIMES "The biggest project is to get some track time. It's a brand new racetrack and you can't take anything for granted. It's a first time for everybody really and get out there and make some laps, make some adjustments. It's going to be an interesting weekend to say the least. Watching the truck race I was very impressed with the racetrack and how everything came together. Just looking at it today it's starting to rubber in pretty quick. I believe the cars will be on the tight side and so it's going to be a matter of how loose you can make your car; whether it's to run on the low side or the high side that's yet to be determined. It's going to be an exciting weekend to say the least."

HOW DO YOU FEEL PENSKE'S CAR OF TOMORROW MEASURE AGAINST THE COMPETITION? "I feel like we're competitive with the other teams with the Car of Tomorrow. We've run well at some events but haven't finished where we needed to. I think, being on a roll will help us finish better this weekend in knowing what pit strategy to be on; just having that momentum with us. On the car itself we've done some major testing with the COT this summer and we're very excited to get it back to the racetrack and see what we can do lap time wise against the competition. Since the last race at New Hampshire where a COT car ran on an oval that is what we are looking to better ourselves from.

DO YOU EXPECT A DRAMATIC IMPROVEMENT IN THE COT OVER THE PREVIOUS BRISTOL RACE? "Absolutely, that is why it's going to be an exciting weekend. Drivers have to learn the racetrack. Where do they pass, the low or the high side? Are the tires good on a short run or a long run? And, then you through in the mix this is the second opportunity to make their cars better at a high banked half mile oval. First time around we had the questions, but now we have even more with teams advancing themselves during the summer as well as the racetrack being completely different. I think the racetrack being different is a bigger story this weekend then the teams coming back for a second time with the COT.

WHAT HAS PAT TRYSON BROUGHT TO THE PENSKE ORGANIZATION? "His experience level is really what has really picked us up. His ability to make decisions on the pit box has helped us close the deal on these races. On David Poole's (radio) show I talked how you get a good set of hands playing poker but if you don't know how to bet them you're not going to get the results that you want. I think that is what Pat has brought to our team. We have good hands; we've had them all along this year. But, yet at Texas we had to pit, yellow comes out while we were leading and we just didn't have the fuel mileage to close the deal. So, we've worked on that. At the road course at Watkins Glen we felt we had to be conservative and not gamble on expecting so many yellow flag laps at the end of the race so we pitted to be conservative and get a solid finish. Those are the things that are helping us finish well lately and that is all do to Pat Tryson. I honestly believe we've had good things all along, we've just needed to pat them on their rear and send them on their way."

HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP CHANCES? "I really honestly haven't. To me, I look at there's three races left now where it had been seven and then it was six and now here we are and it's three. This race this weekend is a serious unknown. Yea, Kurt's had success here in the past but I look at as I'm a new guy on the block with the racetrack. There is no setup that I know yet that I feel comfortable with that is going to help me go to a top ten finish. I have to go work on that. But, yet I can get bumped from behind trying to check up from a wreck on lap six and we're in the garage working on the car and the 160 point lead we have on 13th place goes away. We're not locked in. That's the fun aspect of the race to the Chase, yea we've got two wins, we've been on a roll, but you can just pull the card out from underneath us real quick and we won't even be in it. Once race at a time, that's how we look at it and that's the way you have to with this format. Maybe our Chase started way before everybody else's did just because we needed to get into position. If we make it we're only 20 points out of the lead, that's great, but right now we're 900 points out of the lead. It's obviously important the next three weeks to stay cool, stay calm and most important of all be consistent.

WHY DIDN'T YOU CONSIDER RUNNING THE BUSCH EVENT THIS WEEKEND? "When I heard the track was going to put some new concrete down I went straight to the Busch Series office at Penske and said, 'Can I run Bristol?' They said, 'Ryan Newman already has that race.' So, I think we have the capacity at Penske, like we did at Watkins Glen, to run two Busch cars in a single event. But, it just seemed like the focus needed to be on the Car of Tomorrow. And, my belief is still the Busch car and the Car of Tomorrow drive so different it's not good to blend the two together on the same weekend. I'd love to do it for track time, but yet I wouldn't want to learn a racetrack, be competitive in a Busch race and decide what setup that needed to be versus just focusing completely on my Car of Tomorrow program and giving the best effort forth on the NEXTEL Cup side."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE ALL THE PRESSURE IS ON JUNIOR FOR THE FINAL CHASE SPOT? "Anybody that has a distinct advantage, whether you are the point leader with three races to go or whether you're in the Chase and the guy behind you is 163 (points) behind, the pressure solely sits on his shoulders on how he is going to gain those points. For us, we go about our job and just try to stay as smooth and as clean as we can at the next three weeks. If we are consistent he is going to have a hard time catching us. What's been interesting is we've won at Michigan and Pocono but the guy's we've been running against in points both finished second on the same weekend so we didn't gain many points. It is still all about consistency."

TALK ABOUT RACING IN CALIFORNIA "LA is definitely a fun town to race in. I wish we had more of those 15 million people that live in that area excited about NASCAR. Jillian Zucker does a great job as track president with different functions around the racetrack, with different concerts; you have the Busch race as a support race. There is plenty of action. You see the people that find a four-day weekend, they turn that Labor Day weekend into 'I am going to take Friday off of work and Monday off too' come out to the racetrack and have a good time. As a driver it is always hot in the September race and it's tough to get your car to stick to the track very well. We'll take our Pocono winning car as our primary and we'll take our Michigan winning car as a backup, so we've a pretty good arsenal set to go for California because we have to bring all of our horses to the front right now because we don't have time to think about the Chase if we're not in it."

CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT THE POSSIBILITY OF A THIRD PENSKE CAR IN NEXTEL CUP? "There has been that talk all summer. I know Sam Hornish has been interested in running some NASCAR Cup races and not just Busch races. From what I know, we are still focused on our Busch program for the end of the year and we've got two Cup teams that are working really well together. There are all the inner swirling trying to figure out if we can do three teams. I don't know if it's up to Roger or if it's up to Sam or if Tim Sindrick is going to be the one to make the call on if we are going to do a third team or not. Those three are probably the three that you should talk to."

DO YOU SENSE ANY EXCITEMENT AT THE SHOP WITH THE RECENT WINS? "I think once we had the big chance, once Rusty left and I took over in 2006, I would say 99 percent of the crew is different. A lot of the support staff, whether it was the body shop, the engine shop, people changed positions as we went from three teams down to two so there was a rebuilding process. Going through all of that, the crew guys that have been around there from the beginning are now really understand what it was all about as far as getting things into place. We've added some new guys recently and they've helped our team to bump it up another notch. It's just great to have the 2 car winning again and everybody up in Milwaukee as excited as they are. That's wonderful and of course Roger saying some nice words last week about this was one of the best decisions he's ever made was to put me into the car. I feel privileged to have the opportunity. To have Rusty called me Tuesday night afterwards and say 'that looked like me driving the car. I was trying to drive the car. It looked like me out there doing it.' He was real proud to see the car doing the well, not just Penske or myself, but he has a lot of heart and soul in that car as well. It's great to have everything full circle. You never know how long your stretch can go. For us, we just need the next three weeks to go pretty smooth and work our way into the Chase. That's the big picture right now."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Sam Hornish Jr.