KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Rubbermaid Taurus HOW DOES IT FEEL TO WIN THIS RACE? "I can't give you one word that describes the emotions and the feelings that have gone through me all this week and tonight. But to have this as the Sharpie 500, I...
KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Rubbermaid Taurus
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO WIN THIS RACE?
"I can't give you one word that describes the emotions and the feelings that have gone through me all this week and tonight. But to have this as the Sharpie 500, I think that's the biggest point. So before I thank them and any of my crew guys, I have to apologize to Sterling Marlin for running into him. I think he was trying to let me go going into turn one. I was trying to set him up and get underneath him out of turn two, so I looked too far ahead. So when he tried to give me the line, I was already a half-a-lane up so then I couldn't get myself a good run coming out of turn two and accidentally ran into him. So I was already looking too far ahead. I didn't think that people were gonna be as generous as they were to me with the situation tonight and with what I'm gonna have to go up against for the rest of the year. So I have to apologize to Sterling for getting in to him. But for us to come away with a win like this, it's very satisfying to put a lot of this behind us and to move forward. We go to a great race track next week, but just the way the whole team stood up this weekend and carried me. When it kept getting worse and worse and worse, they kept giving me more and more support. They made the light at the end of the tunnel a bit brighter for me just so that I could see forward and see through this."
WAS IT DIFFICULT TO COME TO THE TRACK WITH THE WAVE OF CRITICISM AND THE FANS BOOING YOU?
"That's part of what's gonna happen with a situation as an assault or with any type of confrontation on the race track. Fans have their opinion and they're entitled to that. That's what makes this sport go around. It so challenging to try to put all of that behind you, but that's what I'm paid to do and that's what I love to do is go out and race these cars and focus lap after lap on what I have to do. The rest of it comes with it, so we have to embrace it with dignity and pride."
DO YOU HAVE ANY CONCERNS WITH THE WAY YOUR PEERS THINK OF YOU? DO YOU HAVE SOME REPAIRING TO DO WITH RELATIONSHIPS IN THE GARAGE?
"I've talked with a few of the drivers thus far, obviously my Roush teammates and then there's been an outgrowing support already from some of the veterans that I've raced against. There is still some repair work to be done with building the trust back within them and letting them know - they know I can race with them but it's just another step in the right direction that I have to do. It's just a matter of time before it's all fixed again."
HOW HAS JIMMY FENNIG HELPED YOU GET THROUGH THIS TIME?
"Jimmy Fennig has been the greatest ambassador for me. The one that taught me everything that I know about this race track. Obviously my short track experience from the old days helped me prepare for this, but the way that Jimmy sets up cars and the way that his cool, calm approach grows on me, that's what it takes at Bristol. He's by far the greatest key for me in my victories here and for what I've been able to do with my career in Winston Cup next to Jack Roush's support and his equipment and the way that his team is run. So Jimmy Fennig is by far the greatest leader of this team and he's the one that held the reigns on me this week as well."
HAVE YOU HAD ANY SECOND THOUGHTS ABOUT YOUR COMMENTS REGARDING BANGING FENDERS ON A SUPERSPEEDWAY?
"Yeah, obviously the scorecard was 2-0 when I went into Michigan with that other guy and the way that it went down I said the wrong things on the radio. In hindsight, obviously, I'm gonna be less colorful from now on. It's something where I didn't even mean to do it. It happened on the race track and I made a comment afterwards in sarcasm and, of course, it got misconstrued and pulled in every which direction."
IS THIS YOUR BIGGEST WIN BECAUSE OF COMING THROUGH THIS?
"The Centennial win for Ford was an accomplishment that comes only once in a lifetime. I believe this win came as well with all of the emotions from this week and the different scenarios that I've had to play through and try to explain different sides - just being involved in an assault and everything else that doesn't really belong in NASCAR - to move forward and put an exclamation point and a period on this weekend mainly for the sponsors. They gave me 100 percent support. I was really glad to hear that and the way they had turned the ball around to support me with my team, with Jack and everybody that surrounds the Roush Racing group. This is a great win."
JACK ROUSH , Car Owner - No. 97 Sharpie/Rubbermaid Taurus
HOW DO YOU THINK KURT HAS HANDLED THIS WEEK AND DO YOU THINK THE CRITICISM IS WARRANTED?
"I'm probably not aware of all the criticism that's out there. I certainly haven't gone to look for it. This is Kurt's third year in Winston Cup. Every race, every event is something new for him that he hasn't been through before. Many of the things that have happened are not new to the senior guys, but this has been a learning thing. Kurt has learned things the last three years that he didn't know and things he didn't know he needed to know. But he's becoming wiser day by day and we're just working our way through it. Kurt is an incredible talent. His mother and father prepared him to have a career in this business and he's working his way in. Had we spent time with Sharpie or another sponsor in the Busch Series, he would have had more experience when he got here. Everytime something happens that he hasn't thought his way through, it's kind of a jump ball. It would be for me or I think most people, which way do you play this ball? Do you bounce it or do you pitch it or do you stomp it on the ground? He's probably breaking as good as anybody on making the calls as they come in front of him. But at the end of the day, the thing about Kurt and I bragged about him as we came over here, in his first year in the Truck Series he made it clear to the people on the race track that if he was faster, he was gonna pass him. That was certainly Dale Earnhardt's way and it was Mark Martin's way and it's the way of our team. We race hard on the race track. We want to race clean. We want to have the respect of our peers and our fans and our sponsors, but, at the same time, we have got to have racing room and until people figure out how to race around Kurt and how good he really is and all the circumstances, well then they won't always give him the racing room that he needs. He made a mistake with Sterling tonight in getting himself lined up to pass coming off two. When Sterling was obviously, or at least it was obvious to Kurt and it appeared to me, that Sterling was trying to give him some room to take it sooner than he planned on it, but working with Sterling in the future, if you give him that consideration, Kurt certainly won't make that mistake again. I'm sure as we go the next race track - at Darlington and the ones that follow - that Kurt will look for an opportunity to give back to Sterling the consideration that he misunderstood and mishandled here. But we've got to work through all these things that a new driver experiences, but at the end of the day, Kurt is incredibly talented. He's incredibly skilled and he's got great instincts on everything except maybe on some occasions the way he handles something that goes between his ears. He's getting wiser on that too. I'm very proud to be sitting here with him. I'm proud that we made it through this week. The team and he will be stronger for it."
DO YOU AGREE WITH KURT THAT THE MEDIA HAS MISCONSTRUED THINGS?
"I think everybody heard what Kurt said. I heard what he said and once I became aware of that, actually from Dave Despain when I watched a program that followed the program that I was on with him, I was surprised to find that that comment had been made. I wished that he hadn't, given the fact that he was under NASCAR scrutiny, but the fact is that that maneuver of rubbing a side of a car without a malice of trying to wreck a car or cause bodily injury to another driver, but that is a technique that is done. Michael Waltrip went into victory circle in a Busch race and bragged on the fact that he helped his prospect of winning that race by crippling somebody's front fender and hampering their aerodynamics. Mike Helton told me that he recognized that that was an established thing that drivers did. It isn't normally talked about and I'm sure that Kurt will refrain from having a conversation in a circumstance like that when everybody is listening. He holds himself up for ridicule on that account, but I think the media understood what he said. I understood what he said. I wish he hadn't said what he said, but we'll go forward."
WHAT MISTAKES DID YOU MAKE IN THE PAST WEEK THAT YOU DO NOT INTEND TO MAKE AGAIN?
"There are so many to count, where do I start? Obviously, when you have a situation on the track and something comes of it, there has to be a full explanation for why things happen. You can't just explain one side of the story, so the way that things were mentioned over the radio - you're gonna see a less colorful Kurt on the radio. You're gonna see a less colorful Kurt in the media center and anytime that I have any type of situation on the race track, unless I know outright that I am wrong. I was wrong with the Sterling Marlin case this evening and anything else that I did throughout the week I have to apologize for because of what had happened. We've got to move forward. We've got our sponsors, especially tonight with the Sharpie 500. We've got next week Darlington, it's the last Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend and then after that we got to Richmond, we go to Loudon, Dover, you name it. We've got races coming up that we need to race strong at and build ourselves back up in points and that's what we have to turn around and do."