Bristol: Kurt Busch - Friday Dodge interview

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) TALK ABOUT COMING BACK TO BRISTOL WHERE YOU HAVE DONE VERY WELL? "It's always exciting to race Bristol again. To be on top of our game - that's what we want to do and be able to try and put the Miller...

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)

TALK ABOUT COMING BACK TO BRISTOL WHERE YOU HAVE DONE VERY WELL? "It's always exciting to race Bristol again. To be on top of our game - that's what we want to do and be able to try and put the Miller Lite Dodge into Victory Lane on Sunday. I've heard the forecast is for some snow angel weather -- so we'll see what we can get done. It's always fun these first four or five races off of last year's points -since we gave up our points, I still haven't found where my hauler away we go (laughing).

"We should have some good practices today. I hope that we get qualifying in this evening and tomorrow it's almost like we have to get some homework in today because tomorrow's forecast is a little 'iffy'. There are lights here -- the banking will dry quickly -- and hopefully we'll get in all the racing action in we can."

DO YOU THINK THAT SAM (HORNISH JR.) MAY NEED A GUARDIAN ANGEL THIS WEEKEND TO GET INTO THE TOP-35? "He's got two excellent races -15th at Daytona and to not run into anything and make every lap he possibly could in Atlanta and finish 25th -- that was the bar set - to finish 25th at every race. Those two DNF's are definitely going to hurt. He's got to protect his race car here at Bristol which is tough to do. I looked at him yesterday and said 'that's right, you've never been to Bristol,' (laughs). I'm like 'well, there's not much help here - you have to go learn from yourself'.

"To have a five-time winner try and give him pointers, I think he feels confident enough to know that he can got out there and try to survive. Sam Hornish Jr has a big task ahead of him. He can run anything. He has to protect his radiator. And that means staying off of other cars and makes as many laps as you possibly can. Attrition might help him if he just stays out of trouble -- attrition could add up and he could end up with a 25th place finish. That's what we're hoping for and that should put him in the top-35."

TELL US ABOUT GOING UP TO DETROIT AND GETTING YOUR VIPER? "This week has been an excellent week. I went up to Detroit -- flew into the old downtown airport -- and drove one block to the Conner Ave. Dodge Viper assembly plant. It was a big celebration. All the hands-on workers -- men and women who fabricate the Dodge Vipers - it was interesting to see the process. You expected to see all these big machines and welders and come in to zap the quarter panels on or zap the control arms on -- this is one of the only assembly's left that is put together by hand. The Dodge Viper is hand assembled. It's almost right off of what Henry Ford started back in the early 10's and 20's of hand assemble. They take a lot pride and the Dodge Viper plant -- the men and women that build the Viper. It reminded me of my mechanics who build my race cars. There is a lot of TLC -- a lot of tender loving care put in each and every vehicle. They wanted to set me up with a blue one (Dodge Viper) last October to commemorate the Miller Lite Dodge's run through the Chase. I said 'no, I think a Dodge Viper is red. I wanted to wait for a red one.' They told me they won't make them until March. It was really exciting to get the 25,000th Viper and the first red one in 2008. Already this car is a star.

It already has appearances booked. I have to keep up with where the car is going."

WOULD YOU BE WILLING TO SWITCH THE POINTS BACK AGAIN WITH SAM UP THIS YEAR IF HE FALLS OUT OF THE TOP 35? "I didn't know that is possibility. I hope that he's able to race as hard as he can and as smart as he can the next few races to get locked in. It's just a tough road -- an uphill battle when you don't have points. Not only do you end up getting your tires last -- when you're back there in points trying to qualify with those other guys - it's an uphill battle. I hope he does the right things this weekend and Martinsville to help his season go a little bit smoother. But there hasn't been any talk of a points swap."

WHAT'S YOUR ANALYSIS OF THE TIRE SITUATION RIGHT NOW? "There's been huge discussion about tires this week. The bottom line is that the COT is heavier. It has less downforce so it doesn't turn as well -- so you're scrubbing your tires trying to get it to turn. And then you have to run all this built-in camber trying to help the car turn. You use to travel to make the front end go through a motion which would add camber as you travel or take away for the left-front. Now it's just built-in the whole time. You're turning the wheel harder. You have all this built-in camber. It's a recipe for tire issues. Goodyear has to react. The CEO (of Goodyear) can't get these phone calls from Mom-and-Pops that are watching NASCAR races going 'why are these tires blowing out? I have Goodyear's on my SUV that I bought, why are NASCAR race tires blowing out?' So they have to react. NASCAR and Goodyear came back with a harder tire for Atlanta. Yes -- was it a bit too far? I'm sure it was. Is there a compromise to find a middle ground? I'm sure there is now that it's a problem for the racing action. We want to see the action, the safety and the fans go home saying 'we bought a ticket to Atlanta, Bristol and say we saw a good race.' There doing the jobs that they can and they're giving us the best tire they can to put on a good show as well as put the heat on themselves when there are tire blowouts."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT DALE JARRET'S LAST POINTS RACE HERE THIS WEEKEND AND A FAVORITE MEMORY? "It's incredible to grow up watching the races and to be rooting for those drivers. When I was growing up there was Ken Schrader, Rusty Wallace, Bill Elliot and Dale Jarrett -- a guy that won the 1999 championship. A guy that I met for the first time when I won the 1999 Southwest Tour championship -- they brought all the champions to Homestead and I got to shake his hand. That was one of the coolest moments -- I got to meet a NASCAR champion. That was the first champion I ever met.

"My first start at Dover, he started right behind me. I just pulled out of the way as quickly as I could because those guys wanted to go a lot quicker than I did at the start of the race. To see him win the Daytona 500 a bunch of times -- to win at Michigan with the Wood Brothers for his first win - there are so many Dale Jarrett classic moments -- he's a very classy guy. Somebody each and every young driver should look up to him for what he has done for the sport and behind the scenes. A pure champion that has that legacy from his father Ned --it's a racing family - it's going to be tough to see him go. It will always be that Dale Jarrett was a champion that I looked up to and try to mock some of his actions."

HOW DO YOU THINK THAT THE RACING WILL SHAPE UP NOW THAT IS HAS SOME AGE ON IT? "It's seems like the track is easier. It's difficult to say because it's Bristol. Bristol is not easy by no means. It took away some of the old little nuances -- like being on in the bottom of Turn 2 or that you didn't drive into Turn 3 too hard. There was a check list you did every lap at Bristol. Now you can just drive off in there -- there is plenty of race track. The raced track helps you get around here now instead of you fighting the race track. And maybe it was right before the Chase last fall -- everybody is a bit tentative. This new car -- everybody was learning it. Now that we've got a race under our belt --it's early in the season and teams are more experienced with the COT -- we're hoping for much more action around the race track. It's a track now that you don't have to move other cars, to move forward and to move up on the grid. So there are not as many crashes as before. A lot of race fans buy tickets to see crashes. It was exciting before -- it's still exciting now -- it just has a different element to it. When I watched the Nationwide Series race here last August, there were three-wide for the lead for the last 40 laps. That's the type of racing action that we need to write about and talk about."

DO YOU HAVE TO CHANGE YOUR WORKOUT PLAN BECAUSE OF THESE TOUGH HANDLING CARS? "It challenges you heat wise. This car is much warmer to drive. It just doesn't ventilate itself as easy. It seems like you're fighting the wheel harder because you're loose sometimes -- tight some other laps. And then with a harder tire they're mixing in to be safer -- you're working the wheel twice as hard. So it only makes sense to bump-up your regiment to get more cardiovascular in -- to hydrate more before hand. (Ryan) Newman -- he's such a buff, burly guy -- he's going to be OK either way."

HOW MUCH DO YOU CHERISH THE UPCOMING WEEKEND OFF? "With all the snow delays and the coldness, it just seems like the season gets longer and longer every year and we start our season too soon, but I watched the Motocross AMA race in Daytona and they were in a monsoon down there in the middle of March -- so it wouldn't make sense to start the season in March down in Daytona. The season is long and there are only a few off weekends. This one is Easter and is around family. I'll spend half the time in the Carolina's and the other half up in Virginia. The Viper hasn't made its way down from Detroit, so that will be a nice summer time vehicle to cruise around in. But it's mainly about family this off-weekend and getting caught up with what we have and haven't done yet around the house."

WHY DO YOU THINK NASCAR SETTLES ON THE TOP 35 CARS AND NOT A SMALLER NUMBER? "Here's all I know about the top-35 and who's in and who's out. We've had four races so far this year. I had a rough race in Vegas -- I blew a tire with 12 laps to go and I finished 39th. That means with 12 laps to go, there was still 39 cars running. That means we had the best amount of cars -- the top quality of cars running in the race. Sam Hornish Jr. had a bad race in Vegas. Carl Edward's is leading the race -- walking away with it with 80 (laps) to go -- has his oil line problem and finishes 42nd. That kills you in points when finish 42nd. And that was only 80 laps from the end. Elliott Sadler just wrecked several laps before and he finished 43rd. That's 90 laps left to got to the end and there are 43 cars -- Elliott Sadler -- Carl Edwards -- I think we have the top quality cars in these races and that's what we want to see. We want to see the fastest 43 in the races no matter where they are in the points - or who's locked in or been around for 20 years - it's taking care of itself. I'm looking at the competition side -- I don't know the top-35 or why it's that number. I'm just looking at when you have a bad day and you're 12 laps from the end and you end up 39th --there's a lot of competition out there."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Rusty Wallace , Kurt Busch , Henry Ford , Carl Edwards , Elliott Sadler , Sam Hornis