Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 97 IRWIN/Sharpie Taurus, has won three straight Food City 500 races at Bristol Motor Speedway. He held a brief Q&A session in the garage area following practice in which he discussed his spin and why his team...
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 97 IRWIN/Sharpie Taurus, has won three straight Food City 500 races at Bristol Motor Speedway. He held a brief Q&A session in the garage area following practice in which he discussed his spin and why his team has had such success at the half-mile bullring.
KURT BUSCH - No. 97 IRWIN/Sharpie Taurus
HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN THE SUCCESS YOU'VE HAD HERE THE LAST THREE YEARS? "It's a matter of just minding your own business out on the track and having fun at certain points of the race and then being aggressive with the race track during other points in the race. But really it's about just riding around, you get your time in and then you have to attack the track for about 200 laps worth and you just have to know when to use your 200 laps."
HOW HARD IS IT TO MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS WHEN PEOPLE ARE BUMPING YOU FROM BEHIND AND THERE ARE PEOPLE IN FRONT OF YOU? "You just have to protect your car. If there's somebody quicker than you, you just let them go. If you're quicker than the car in front of you, you just find their weak points and you try to work around that. It's as difficult as anything, but yet it's simple at the same time if your car is handling well."
WHAT ABOUT YOUR SPIN IN PRACTICE. YOU WERE INCHES FROM THE WALL ON THE OUTSIDE AND INSIDE. "I used up too much real estate. I might not be able to save it as good next time. It's just one of those weird things where we tested here and we had a couple things leftover from our test that we wanted to try. I was real anxious to try to get by the 41 to get in front of him and then run some clean laps and we just didn't get to that point. I just drove the car too aggressively and spun her out. I hit the outside wall just a little bit and then cleared the inside wall just enough."
HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN WHY ROUSH HAS GOTTEN OUT OF THE GATE SO QUICKLY THIS YEAR? "It's a good start for our team and we have to continue that. One thing is that we went to Vegas, California and Atlanta, which are three tracks that are somewhat similar in setups. Now we come to Bristol and Martinsville - tracks that are on the opposite end of that. Right now, Roush has got it figured out as far as teamwork, working together as five teams. When somebody goes and tests they bring that information back and we all get to share."
IS THERE AN EMERGING RIVALRY WITH HENDRICK? "We're just fast right now. I'm sure the other teams will catch us. At this place you're not gonna see that type of rivalry just because there are so many cars that can be in the hunt. You're gonna see Bobby Labonte there. Sterling Marlin is always a darkhorse here. There's one guy who always runs good here - Rusty. He'll be here."
IS YOUR CONFIDENCE AT AN ALL-TIME HIGH? "It's cool being the champion and going to these tracks and having our car checked first each week. We had a bummer week last week and it's somewhat confusing why we were blowing right-front tires, but right now the team is rolling smooth. We've got three top-five finishes. Johnson's got a few more, but that's all great. We just need to work on our job each week because the championship is not gonna carry us through a victory each week. We have to go and race each track for what it is."
LAST YEAR IN THIS RACE RUSTY BUMPED YOU ON THE LAST LAP. DID YOU EXPECT THAT TO BE A PUNT? "He got me at the wrong portion of the race track. He got me on the straightaway because we were down on power a little bit. Our distributor turned back the timing. It was a faulty distributor that Yates found afterwards but not during the time. He bumped me on the straightaway so that enabled me to have the rear tires land on the race track through the corner and go and drive away from him. Now if he had hit me in the corner it would have been a different story."
DOES QUALIFYING UP FRONT HERE MEAN VIRTUALLY ZERO? "I believe so, but yet it can help you. We won the fall race here two years ago by qualifying top five. It just seemed like a much easier night than all of my other starting positions before. So we're trying to better ourselves in qualifying and it's hard to find that ragged edge to know whether you're gonna spin or whether you're gonna get a good lap."
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO HAVE IN ORDER TO SURVIVE THESE RACES? "The best ingredient you can have is a team behind you that gives you a fast race car. If your car is fast, then you don't need to pressure it at the wrong points of the race. If you're running fifth and you've got sixth, seventh and eighth right on your tail, that's not such a good feeling. But if you're running eighth and you're on top of that guy that's in front of you and there's no room in front of him, then you make that pass. You just have to protect your car and know when to go."
YOU MENTIONED EARLIER IN THE WEEK THAT THE 8 CAR WOULD BOUNCE BACK AND HE WAS FOURTH IN PRACTICE. "Oh yeah, the 8 car will be just fine this weekend. He'll be good at Martinsville. Right now I think their aero program is struggling just a little bit and the way that you build cars for these high-speed race tracks. At short tracks your notes always carryover no matter what tire or what spoiler is on your car."
BIFFLE AND EDWARDS HAVE GOTTEN TO VICTORY LANE. IS IT POSSIBLE THAT FIVE CARS FROM ONE ORGANIZATION CAN WIN THIS YEAR? "It's a great possibility and I'm excited about it. Just the way Edwards made that run in Atlanta and Biffle was strong at California. We've had a shot at three out of the four events. We're right there. They're the guys that are right on the edge of trying something a little different or something for them that might just hit a little bit better than what our program is. We hope that this weekend is our weekend and then we're gonna get Mark and Kenseth in there."
BEHIND CLOSED DOORS HAS THAT BEEN A SPOKEN GOAL OF GETTING ALL FIVE IN VICTORY LANE? "It's always a goal at the beginning of the year for any team. For us, we don't sit around a big bonfire and say, 'We've got to do this.' We're just going out and having fun and winning races."