NASCAR Winston Cup The next stop on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit is Bristol Motor Speedway for the annual Saturday night race. Here are some notes regarding Ford's history at the half-mile oval, in addition to some season tidbits. * Ford...
NASCAR Winston Cup
The next stop on the NASCAR Winston Cup circuit is Bristol Motor Speedway for the annual Saturday night race. Here are some notes regarding Ford's history at the half-mile oval, in addition to some season tidbits.
* Ford has 26 all-time wins at Bristol in 83 races.
* Ford has won four of the last five Bristol races.
* The last driver to sweep Bristol was Ford's Rusty Wallace in 2000.
* Ford has won both Bristol races five times (2000, 1968, 1965, 1964 and 1963).
* Bristol has produced two first-time NASCAR Winston Cup winners in the past two years with Elliott Sadler (2001) and Kurt Busch (2002) winning the Food City 500.
* Two Ford drivers have won at Bristol on August 24. Alan Kulwicki posted the first of his two Bristol wins on that date in 1991 while Rusty Wallace won for the sixth time at Bristol 1996. Since then, Wallace has gone on to post three more victories, which included his 50th series triumph in 2000. Wallace is tied with Cale Yarborough and Dale Earnhardt for second on the all-time Bristol win list with nine. Darrell Waltrip holds the mark with 12 track victories.
* Ford has a series-high eight wins in 2002. Dodge is second with six wins while Chevrolet has five and Pontiac four.
* Ford is the only manufacturer to have at least one driver finish in the top five of all 23 races this season.
* Ford holds a commanding 28-point lead over second-place Chevrolet in the manufacturer's standings.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 97 Rubbermaid Taurus, will go for the Bristol Motor Speedway sweep Saturday night in the Sharpie 500. Busch, who won the first NASCAR Winston Cup Series race of his career when he captured the Food City 500 in March, goes into this weekend's event 12th in points. Busch could become the ninth different driver to win both Bristol races in the same season. Darrell Waltrip (1981-82-83) and Cale Yarborough (1974-76-77) swept three times while Dale Earnhardt did it twice (1985 and 1987). Five other drivers have done it once -- Fred Lorenzen (1964), David Pearson (1968), Bobby Allison (1972), Richard Petty (1975), and Rusty Wallace (2000).
KURT BUSCH --97-- Rubbermaid Taurus
IT MUST FEEL GOOD GOING BACK TO A PLACE YOU JUST WON AT.
"It's a good feeling this time around. It seems that many times you just go and expect to survive because it's that tough. There's no real strategy that you can have there to develop track position. Obviously, you want to qualify well so you stay towards the front, but it's great to have a win there now. We think we've got a better understanding of the track and that builds more confidence, plus going back for the night race makes it that much more exciting. The fact it's also the Sharpie 500 puts on a little added pressure, but we're still going to have the same focus and that's to run up front. If we are the best car at the end of the race, we're going to go for it."
WHAT'S THE FIRST THING THAT FLASHES INTO YOUR MIND WHEN YOU THINK OF YOUR WIN AT BRISTOL IN MARCH?
"The thing that comes to my mind first is jumping out of the car at the start-finish line and knowing that I was the best for a day and knowing that we conquered a race track that had always given me fits. Even though that was only my third time there, it was a special feeling. We had a full team effort that day and now we know what it takes to win a race. We know what happened throughout the day's events and what we did to get to that point and those are things I've tried to apply every race weekend we go to. We've come up real close and finished second a few times this year, along with third and fourth, and we've had our mechanical issues, but we know exactly what happened in that race and that's what goes through my mind of what it took to win that race."
HOW MUCH OF BRISTOL IS BEING IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME AND BEING LUCKY?
"It has everything to do with it. We got in an early accident that day and had to come in and take all the tape off the grille. We caved in the grille when somebody checked up and I couldn't stop in time. That put us dead last again, but we worked our way up through and the car was quick enough to pass cars all day. Nobody ever passed us on the track. Spencer got a little rough with us and passed us, but we passed everybody all day. That put us in a position to come into the pits fifth with about 140 to go and we came out third. We passed one car and got up to Dale, Jr., who was leading. We were quicker than him at that point and he ended up pitting because he knew he couldn't win the race, and it was ours to lose. We had a fast enough car to put ourselves in that position, so you have to have all the elements go your way. You just cannot be a slow car and expect to win there, you've got to be fast."
WE'VE SEEN AT BRISTOL THAT TIRES CAN LAST A LONG TIME. DOES THIS RACE COME DOWN TO GETTING INTO YOUR PIT WINDOW AND THEN JUST STAYING OUT?
"If your car is good and if you can run that lap time. If you're not capable of running that lap time, you're gonna get passed and you won't win the race. We ended up with the same fortune Elliott Sadler had the year before, where we had a fast car and it would work on 150-lap tires. That's a strategy that has worked in the past and it's something we saw at Dover earlier this year as well when Jimmie Johnson stayed out. He stayed out and the whole field came in and he won. There are tracks that require pit stops at the end and there are tracks that don't. Bristol is one where you don't necessarily have to pit at the end."
YOU HAD A BATTLE WITH JIMMY SPENCER DOWN THE STRETCH. WITH ALL THAT'S HAPPENED IN RECENT WEEKS BETWEEN THE TWO OF YOU, HOW DO YOU PLAN ON HANDLING THINGS THIS WEEKEND?
"That's part of the media's job, but it seems funny to bring attention to something that's not very relevant. We've got two wrecked race cars. He's got a second-place finish and what's in the past is in the past. I'm much more of an individual that's gonna race somebody instead of wreck somebody."
IF THE SAME SCENARIO WOULD PLAY OUT WHERE SPENCER WAS IN THE LEAD AND YOU WERE BEHIND HIM, DO YOU SEE YOURSELF DRIVING THE SAME WAY OR DO YOU HAVE TO BE MORE CAUTIOUS BECAUSE OF WHAT'S HAPPENED RECENTLY?
"I obviously have to watch myself, but there was nothing wrong with what I did last time. So, if I do it again, I don't think there's anything wrong with it. Some media members might think there was something wrong with it. NASCAR might think there's something wrong with it, so, obviously, we've got to mind our P's and Q's around the 41 car, which is pathetic because we shouldn't have to be put in that position."
ARE YOU SURPRISED YOU HAVEN'T WON A RACE OR TWO SINCE THEN?
"A little bit. We dominated Fontana and should have won that race, but Jimmie got by us with gas only on the last pit stop. At Charlotte, we were leading with 80 laps to go and we dropped a cylinder. At Dover, we got a flat tire and went two laps down before we got both of them back and finished 12th. We had another flat tire at Loudon when we had a great race car, so we've just had some misfortune. I don't know why we've had those flat tires because we haven't been aggressive in our setups, but I guess it's just part of the learning curve and part of the mistakes you make before things start going your way."
THOSE MISFORTUNES SHOW HOW HARD IT REALLY IS TO WIN THESE RACES DOESN'T IT?
"You have to have everything go your way, but the key is you can't panic. You have to take and absorb whatever bump comes your way, just like a shock absorber does, and get back on the track as quick as you can."
YOUR TEAMMATE, MARK MARTIN, OFTEN TALKS ABOUT HOW SPECIAL WINNING IS BECAUSE YOU NEVER KNOW IF YOU'RE EVER GOING TO WIN AGAIN. DO YOU UNDERSTAND THAT A LITTLE BIT NOW THAT YOU'VE WON ONCE?
"It's special to get to victory lane and it does make you appreciate when you win. You strive for it every weekend and the team bears down as hard as they can in digging for you, and it's so great when you come together as a team and win a race. You don't know when it's gonna come again, but, then again, you can go on a streak of three or four in a row, so you take each day for what it's worth and put your best foot forward."
DID WINNING AT BRISTOL RAISE YOU A NOTCH IN THIS SPORT BECAUSE THERE ARE A LOT OF GUYS WHO NEVER WIN AT THIS LEVEL?
"In a way, but not necessarily. I think that's something that develops over time and doesn't happen overnight -- even if you win right away in your rookie year. This sport is based around consistency and it's built around family and family doesn't happen overnight. You don't necessarily focus on it, you're just the person that you are and you try to fit into the mold around here and go about your business. Whether that win put us in that group, I don't know, but what I do know is that it feels great to win a Winston Cup race. We're not satisfied with that though because there's much more work to be done and much more ahead for this team and Roush Racing as a group."