Bristol: Kurt Busch Friday wake-up call

KURT BUSCH (No 2 Millet Lite Dodge Avenger) OPENING COMMENTS FROM NEXTEL WAKE-UP CALL "It's always fun to come back to Bristol and get into the heart of the season. For me Daytona and then the west coast trip with California and my hometown...

KURT BUSCH (No 2 Millet Lite Dodge Avenger)


"It's always fun to come back to Bristol and get into the heart of the season. For me Daytona and then the west coast trip with California and my hometown Las Vegas and now it starts to settle into the grind so to speak. This is where we all grew up, short track racing. Bristol is definitely the finest short track in America and it's fun to come back here and challenge the high banks and see what our Dodge Avenger can do this weekend. We're pumped up about it. It's definitely a different race than it's been in the past with the COTs. We're just keeping an open frame of mind and absorb what we know and what we have to look out for."

WILL THE FANS NOTICE ANY DIFFERENCE WITH THE COTS? "I think bottom line you're still going to have the same Bristol atmosphere of the bumping, the banging, the long runs, the short runs, the pit strategy, just cars on top of each other, rookies making mistakes. You'll see the same cats with the same results I hope."

HOW MUCH IS DRIVER VERSUS CAR AT BRISTOL? "The COT is going to create a new element on how to set up the race car. It's not the same setup obviously. I've won a few races here with many different types of combinations of setups. I hope that my experience will pay dividends on how to protect the race car, staying out of trouble, knowing how to look ahead and look out for trouble because I think we know there's always trouble at Bristol no matter what car you're driving, whether it's a truck series car or a Busch Series, Cup car, COT. I'm hoping that experience lends into having a better weekend for us and then what to look out for as far as having the car turning in the center of the corner versus your forward bite, grip coming off the corner. You still have to set up the car to race the car, and you still have to stay out of trouble. If you do all that right then about lap 400 you should be sitting pretty and that's usually my formula for success."

HOW DIFFERENT WILL PIT STOPS BE AND HAVE YOU DONE ANYTHING TO PREPARE FOR BODY DAMAGE? "Pit stops will be a bit different for the crew guys, making adjustments in the back window, putting a wrench in the back window and trying to make a turn on it is much more difficult leaning over a rear wing than leaning over a rear spoiler. The car is about 10 inches longer in the back. It's a tougher reach. You don't want to have a short fuel guy or a short tire hanger because they need the longer arms to reach in the back window and make those adjustments. The teams have been practicing. I think we've got two COT test cars we use as pit stop cars. Our guys have been practicing their stops just as we would for a road course race where you come in in the opposite direction. It's just a different set of circumstances, but the guys are able to adjust for it all the time. Just being able to repair the car during damages will be the same case scenario. You try to do some mock up things back at the race shop to look out for. The rear wing is bolted on the car like the rear spoiler is, so there's no problem there. The front splitter, there's a question mark of what's going to happen. Whether it's the bolts from the underside and supports getting ground off. What do you do with them if they're hanging there? Is NASCAR going to make you run a front splitter at all times? I don't know. Sometimes there's so much damage on the front end of a car you don't even have the brake ducts attached afterwards. I don't think you'll need the front splitter if you want to continue forward once there is damage. This is the same as everything else except it's a little different."

IS THIS A MILESTONE FOR NASCAR AND IS IT A BIG DEAL TO WIN THE FIRST COT RACE? "This is a huge mark in the history of NASCAR. It's similar in ways to the first Nextel Chase for the Cup or similar to the first guy to win the Brickyard 400 -- Jeff Gordon. The first race in the new era back in the '70s when the sport had a big change. This is a big moment. Did NASCAR want to run the COT at Bristol for the first time? I don't know. It just so happened their main plan in the scheme of things to run the COTs at (tracks) a mile or less, Bristol just popped up first on the schedule. There's probably plenty of other race tracks that could have had the first COT race, but here we are short track racing America and here we go. This race has always been special to win, but now since this is the first COT race, the magnitude and the history and the value of winning the first COT race will be very prominent. It's very important and I think a lot of drivers know that this weekend."

WILL PHOENIX REALLY BE THE FIRST TRACK TO SEE THE AERODYNAMICS OF THE COT? "The short tracks will have the front splitter, will have the fender damage, will have the rear of the car kick out and brush up against the wall because it's longer. All that is normal short track stuff. When we see the aerodynamic advantages or disadvantages of this car, Phoenix will be the first place. Darlington, that is a place where you always have to race the racetrack but you're going to have the COT element there. Dover is the place where I expect the greatest difference in driving from the COT versus a regular car just because of the speed and the high-speed banking at Dover. On the short track, it's not going to be much different. I think Dover will be the first real place."

DO YOU FEEL SAFER DRIVING THE COT? "I feel safer just knowing all the technology NASCAR has poured into it and the advancements we've made over the past five or six years. It definitely has a safer feel when you drive the car. We want to take it out on the track and race it against other guys. We feel more comfortable but yet we don't know how it's going to bounce off other cars or bounce off safer barriers. It's a little bit learn as you go, but I know safety has been implemented by NASCAR. I've got a new carbon seat in our COT, so it's helped us advance our seats as well. "

HOW ROUGH IS THIS TRACK? "To me it's the same old Bristol no matter what it's gone through for face lifts in years past or since its last renovation. It's always had a big bump going into one for me. It's always had a steep transition coming off turn two. The shocks at this race track see the most travel per inch that we see on our shock data. The shock is violently abused here. You learn how to jump over each of the bumps or step on the gas after a certain bump. Maybe that has something to do with the success I've had here. You deal with what's here. There's only 15-16 seconds to get around this race track, so you get into detail with each of those bumps. Can they hurt you or can they help you? To me it's just a race track. We get around here as fast as we can. There's going to be a big facelift done to this track this summer to alleviate some of those bumps and create a different atmosphere here at Bristol. It'll be interesting when we come here this fall. It'll be leading right up to The Chase as well as a brand new track for everybody and of course it'll be the second time around for the COTs. Quite a few interesting topics at Bristol this year. It's always tough when you redo a race track. The drivers' opinion is whole-heartedly the most important. The fans' opinion is second to that. We hope it goes through a quicker transition than some of the other tracks when they're repaved or reconfigured. Homestead has done a good job. Vegas went through some small growing pains, but it'll be a fantastic track. Charlotte is going through its growing pains. Every place goes through it when you put a new surface down. They key ingredient for success is the tire. It is too hard or is it too soft on blowing out? I think the tire is going to be important when we come back here and race in the fall, and they've asked me and some of the other teams to be a part of the Goodyear tire test. I feel privileged to be able to do that for Goodyear, and it'll help us feel more comfortable on the race track when they do reconfigure. It's going to be new concrete, new banking, new layout. They've confronted me just like they did out in Las Vegas to get a few pointers here and there. I don't have my own identity with Kurt Busch signature tracks like Rusty Wallace, but I'm just trying to throw in a little here and there."

WILL IT BE MORE DIFFICULT TO PASS HERE AND IF SO DOES THAT PUT A BIGGER PREMIUM ON QUALIFYING? "The way you have to pass with these COTs is yet to be determined. Who knows? If you do the bump and run on somebody are you going to end up knocking a hole in your front nose because of how big it is or tearing apart the guy's rear bumper in front of you because of how big is it? Do you take extra time when you're trying to pass somebody? I hope drivers do. I hope there's a bit more give and take. There is definitely, I believe, going to be a bigger premium on qualifying because of the track position game. I've won races here where we've had flat tires and we had to come back. I think I won last spring with a Lucky Dog getting back on the lead lap. Passing is definitely going to be difficult. I'm a racer and that's why I like the racer type question and that's what the fans are wanting and paying to see. That's what this car is meant to do. It's meant to create more side by side racing and more nose to tail action. I think we're all going to get our fill of that anyway because we're here at Bristol."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Rusty Wallace , Kurt Busch