Busch Makes it Three Straight at Bristol Part 2 of 2 JACK ROUSH: WHAT ABOUT THE 17 CAR TODAY? "The 17 car had kind of a rough day. They struggled with track position. Matt qualified his normal 23rd or whatever it was, so he was faced...
Busch Makes it Three Straight at Bristol
Part 2 of 2
WHAT ABOUT THE 17 CAR TODAY?
"The 17 car had kind of a rough day. They struggled with track position. Matt qualified his normal 23rd or whatever it was, so he was faced with coming from the back like he said he so often did when he was racing in Wisconsin on his way up. Anyway, he had to come from the back. The car wasn't great. He got stuck. Robbie made great pit strategy. He kept him out and brought him in at exactly the right time and then left him out and he was able to move up. Had he been three positions further on some of those critical cautions, then the decision might have been the other way and he would have been one of the people who was getting passed rather than one of the people that were passing. Matt can be counted on to get the most out of his car and to keep it in as best shape as it can be, and Robbie can be counted on making good pit calls. I think that Matt maybe a little less likely to make a call himself against Robbie's than Kurt has proven against Jimmy's, but the fact is that the crew chief can't see everything that the driver can.
"If he knows that he's got enough tire left and wants to go back and not give up his track position, in my world they've got that prerogative. By the same token, the crew chief can't know how badly a driver needs tires. I've had occasions when Mark Martin in particular has been told, probably by Jimmy Fennig, that he should stay out and he says, 'No, I've got to have tires. I've got this rear tire killed and I've got to come.' But, anyway, that's one of the things that the guys work out together. But the 17 had a great day in terms of a good save on a day when their car wasn't dominant and they struggled for track position."
THERE WERE THREE CAUTIONS IN THE LAST 35 LAPS, WOULD THAT HAVE MADE A SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE?
"Those are things that as a driver you expect at the end of a race, especially at Bristol or a short track for that matter is some caution laps. That only aided us in bringing the car to victory lane because of the amount of laps we were running under caution versus green. The total number of laps probably ended up around 90 on that last set of tires under green conditions. So with that helping in our favor, it still makes it difficult on restarts because the field is bunched up once again and you have another opportunity for cars running side-by-side and that takes away from any type of car to be by themselves and when you're by yourself on this track that's the best position to be in."
DID YOU KNOW HARVICK HAD NEWER TIRES AND DID THE DEBRIS AND FINISH HELP?
"The debris would have affected us if it wasn't there, but it would have affected us in a positive way because the 29 would have been all over the 2 and the 2's hands would have been full because he was on the same tire run as we were. The longer we would have run, Rusty would have had more trouble. Now if I was able to stay in front of him, that's yet to be seen and we won't have to worry about that. We got the car to victory lane, but it was a blessing in disguise to have the 29 back there with fresher tires because now Rusty had to play defense as well as offense."
WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON THE 42 AND 17 AFTER THE RACE?
"I have no clue. I neither saw it nor have I talked to anybody about it. I understood from the radio that Matt said that he had gotten spun and whether he was the aggressor and got caught up in it or whether he was the victim, I've got no clue."
MATT AND KURT ARE 1-2 IN POINTS.
"Kurt is great. He was great in the truck. He was great back home before he came in from Las Vegas and joined us a few years ago. Kurt has learned things that I think he would admit that he probably didn't know - that have been useful to him about the business that we're in and how he needs to manage Kurt, so that Kurt can be in control of all his faculties and be able to take advantage of the opportunities there. There are many great challenges in this business and Kurt has matured greatly. I'm speaking without perfect knowledge, but when he came to the truck series he had something like only 75 races is all he'd ever raced in full-sized cars, and none of those were even the kind of distance that the truck races had. So we went from that one year into Winston Cup, so he was really without the grounding in terms of pounding and the things that would frustrate you and temper his personality and his perspective on things. He didn't have that experience, but he's been tested under fire in the meantime and I think he's come through it very well."
CAN YOU FOLLOW UP ON THAT?
"Jack's right as far as the limited amount of experience. Just going from series to series so quickly, I didn't have time to make friends or to make enemies. It was a challenge for me just to worry about the race car. Boom, boom, boom, here we are now in Nextel Cup and now there are so many things outside of the car that I hadn't been exposed to. It would have been great to run two seasons in the Busch Series to understand all of the race tracks because I was running on race tracks that I had never seen before for five years.
"From one year in the Southwest Tour to Trucks and then to Nextel Cup and then to new tracks like Chicago and Kansas. I mean, the race tracks I had never seen before. And then once you get to learn the drivers and once you get to learn the means of success, which I had before but not at this level, that became a whole new ball of wax. That's probably where I struggled was understanding the bigger picture and what a driver has to do as a role model, as a team leader and as an individual within this rank."
DID THE REACTION AT THE END BOTHER YOU? SOME BOTTLES WERE THROWN.
"That happens quite often at some of our tracks. At Daytona they threw their seat cushions because they didn't throw a red at the end, so they got a red this time but the probably didn't get the winner maybe that they wanted, or it was the fact that we now have won four of the last five. I know when my father did that or when I watched Ron Hornaday do that on the Southwest Series or when I watched Greg Biffle win nine races in his Craftsman Truck Series season in 1999, they booed because they saw a winner so many times. I think that was the reaction today. Obviously, last fall was different and then today - the last name is Busch, but it's halfway Bristol because this is where we have a lot of success and fans might want to see somebody else win, especially the Rusty Wallace kind of guy. He's got nine wins here, but they all came at a different part of his career, but now he's back on his game and he's one to beat every week, so I think a lot of fans were pulling for him at the end because he might be considered the underdog for a second."
WOULD YOU LIKE TO LAY CLAIM TO THIS BEING YOUR HOUSE?
"The way I've been explaining it all this week was I've watched in the past Rusty win here and DW - drivers before that who have won 3-out-of-4 or 3-for-3 anyhow, I didn't get a chance to see. I think that's the likes of David Pearson or Cale Yarborough. Those guys were before us and probably before I was even born, but this race track is really tailored to a different type of guy, a mindset or a setup or just luck. The way that DW was able to win seven in a row here, 12 overall, there's still a lot of years ahead of me but we've gotten off to a great start. This is a great race track to race on. There used to be only 30,000 fans in the early eighties and now there are 160,000. Just as years progress stats are added up and I'd like to say that I'm just renting out a room from Darrell Waltrip or Rusty Wallace, so that we don't lose track of the proper things and that's the 2004 Nextel Cup championship or just a top five finish or a win on a specific given date."
MILD-MANNERED GUYS LOSE THEIR TEMPER HERE. DO YOU JUST EXPECT THAT HERE?
"Jack was probably kicking me around in the trailer a little more than usual today because he saw that we had potential for a victory or a good finish. When you talk to Jack and his great words, when you listen to Jimmy Fennig because of the great crew chief he's been in the past with Mark Martin. There are so many guys to learn from within our organization, it's easy to find a mindset for each specific race track. When I come here, I'm able to feel the race track - each specific bump, any place to stand on the gas, any place to turn the wheel. With it being only 15 seconds, my brain can handle that capacity."
HOW DID YOU FEEL AFTER NOT PITTING?
"You don't feel confidence at all until the checkered flag drops as far as how your decision went or how you were able to get to victory lane. What I did see at the time was cars pitting, cars not pitting, us staying out on tires. We had a problem with the way that our 40th anniversary Sharpie car was running and I didn't expect to get to victory lane today - more so than any other time. To come over that adversity and to be able to survive out front with a fresh race track to look at and to hit our marks, it allowed me to do my job a little better. But at the time I was just looking to fade gracefully and see where we were gonna end up."
HOW DOES KURT'S SUCCESS COMPARE TO MARK'S?
"The race track is just great for a guy with a lot of courage and with the ability to feel his car and understand exactly what his car is doing all the time. It's critical when you're on the gas. There's not a place here, I think, where a driver can take a breath and kind of relax.
"You have to be thinking about where you're gonna go in the corner and how you're gonna get through the corner and get off the corner. If you say how is Mark and Rusty and Kurt alike as it relates to this race track, I think they love race tracks where you need to have a lot of courage to go through the corner. You go through at break neck speed and where you set up you car so that you almost do a wheel stand coming off the corners. That's the thing I've seen from Rusty when I've seen his cars at their best and what I've seen from Mark when his were at his best, and that's the thing Kurt when looking for when he and Jimmy started here a few years ago."
"I'd like to make a comment. My mother, Georgetta, is the owner of record of this team and she's been with the team since we started building it about eight years ago around Chad Little. She's been at my side and she's been with the guys in the haulers and in the shops, struggling with them and giving her perspective on what she thought we ought to be doing with the team and how we should represent ourselves and what we should be doing. Well, she lost her partner of 65 years last week and he was also my dad, so I'd like to dedicate this race to Charles Roush and Georgetta, who is remembering him tonight."
"I dedicate the win to them as well. She's been a unique car owner. We know that Jack makes the decisions, but she calls me up and beats me upside the head when I step out of line, so it's a great relationship."