Charlotte: Kurt Busch - Dodge Thursday interview

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) COMMENT ON THE COCA-COLA 600 "I hope we can somewhat continue the success we've had on the mile and a halves this year. That seemed to be a weak point for us last year, and we've turned it around and...

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)

COMMENT ON THE COCA-COLA 600 "I hope we can somewhat continue the success we've had on the mile and a halves this year. That seemed to be a weak point for us last year, and we've turned it around and run solid at some of the bigger tracks. We feel confident the Coke 600 is going to be a good race for the Miller Lite Dodge and to be able to gain some points and to be able to continue on into Dover and some of the upcoming tracks we feel will be a bit stronger for us. Charlotte is definitely going to be a tough race. It's 600 miles, starts in the daytime and ends at night, so you have to the setup that's balanced for the extreme temperatures, a hot, slick track, and then of course at night when the track cools down and it gets fast, you've got to be able to lay the hammer down and go for it. It's definitely a tough race to adjust for. You just have to keep in mind it's a marathon and you can't get caught up too much in one pit segment versus another. You've got a lot for 600 miles."

HOW FAR ARE THE DODGES BEHIND THE CHEVROLETS? "I think we seem to be outnumbered. I think if you count the number of Chevrolets versus Dodges they just have better percentages of a chance to win each weekend. For us, we feel like we're getting stronger each week. We're getting our Car of Tomorrow built up as strong as we can. It seems like the Hendrick cars do have a solid run on the competition right now. It's not just one team versus another. We're also looking at some of the Evernham struggles that isn't helping the Dodge effort, but for us we've made some big gains from last year to this year. Then keeping up with the Dodge Avenger, so we've got the new nose on the Dodge Charger and we've got the new Dodge Avenger that we're working on. It keeps us busy. It keeps us on our toes, and we're looking at the big picture. We're solid in the top 10 in points right now, and if we can get more of our answers scienced out then we'll be ready for The Chase when it starts in September we hope."

HAVE YOU TALKED TO YOUR BROTHER KYLE YET ABOUT SATURDAY NIGHT'S RACE? "Yeah, we definitely talked about what happened Saturday night with the two of us getting together. That was the first time and we both laughed about that and thought that each one of us could have given an inch to help one another move forward instead of wrecking. It goes back to that no points type of mindset. We both thought we had a chance to win a million dollars at the same time. When two brothers that think alike in many different ways are on the same spot on the racetrack, it made for a unique action packed set of corners. We both know we need to give and take a bit more. Going into a points race this weekend like the 600, we're going to go back to the normal helping each other out because there's only so many teammates out there you can have. With having a set of brothers that are competitive, we can definitely help each other out. We've definitely talked and understand the big picture on things."

COMMENT ON RUNNING THE COT AT DOVER "It's going to be a tough weekend. With the COT in general, it has a set of questions going into each and every race. This race it's going to be more so than that. We were hoping to have a test session and get the cars balanced out with higher speeds and the higher banking. If we have to mix in a little bit of what we saw at Darlington with the speed element and then we have to go back to the banking at Bristol. It's going to be a tough balance. We've only got the normal practice session to science it out, so we're definitely going to be a mix of who's going to be on and who's going to be off with a limited practice time."

HOW MUCH OF THE CONVERSATION WITH YOUR BROTHER WAS YOU TALKING TO KYLE? "The initial discussion was over who was giving it and who was taking it. Over that discussion I think he got the sense of realization that he's been driving a percentage point or two too high of late. Looking at some of his Busch Races and his Cup Races, and we've all been young drivers before that have gone through 'hey, I've got a fast racecar. I deserve to win.' Yet, you can't count your chickens before they hatch. I think he realizes that, and I hope it helps him wrecking with his brother he can definitely mature in a stronger fashion and a quicker fashion. I think he really enjoyed the talk we had. I think he'll say that if you ask him, so that's where we stand. I think the big brother talk was cool, but yet wrecking on the racetrack was tough. We're going to make it a better situation for both of us at the end."

IS IT TOUGHER WHEN YOU COMPETE IN YOUR SPONSOR'S RACE? "It's always a bigger weekend so to speak. There's the Daytona 500 of course. There's Indianapolis. There's the Coca-Cola 600 and I think those are the three biggest marquee events we race. Then when you have a sponsor race there's more hospitality, more autograph sessions, things to do earlier in the week that lead up to that event, and then I've got a unique hometown -- Las Vegas. You have some big races through the year and then you have some regular races. You learn over time there are those bigger events that are bigger for the sponsor and team than it is for anybody else that is racing that weekend, so you learn to balance that out."

WHEN YOU'RE ON THE TRACK ARE YOU AWARE YOU'RE RACING YOUR BROTHER? "We do know who is who out on the race track and we always try to give each other room and make each other's lives easier out on the track. Whether it's drafting at Daytona or Talladega or passing at a short track. A little give and take goes a long way. And it helps us get through family life. Since he's family and we're family together, I think it makes it easier to communicate after there is an altercation on the track or a run-in so to speak. We both know each other's phone numbers and we usually know what each other is doing. It's easier to fit it in the schedule because for me it's easy to put my arm around him and rub him on the other shoulder and say 'hey little brother, this is what happened and we're going to try to move forward.' He'll do the same thing to me and we both help each other. I learn quite a bit from him when I talk to him as well."

WHEN DID YOU TALK? "We talked Tuesday or Wednesday. Actually we were at the Rick Hendrick golf tournament together. He was in a different cart and I was in a different cart and we didn't cross paths there unless we were both out in the woods together looking for our balls."

WHAT'S YOUR REACTION TO THE COT FULL TIME IN 2008? "I think it was a decision that needed to be made sooner rather than later. I'm happy they gave us the indication that's the car we need to focus on. With building Dodge Chargers for us and Dodge Avengers, it just makes it more simple for the crew guys to focus on for the budge to be reined in a little bit instead of pushing more time and money into the development of the older car. We need to work on the new car more now, so I think it helps to narrow it down I think everybody is excited to watch this COT grow and mature and learn what we need to do with it each week, and when we see it on bigger racetracks that's going to be the big test for the car. That's what we want to see, more side by side, nose-to-tail racing action at tracks like Michigan, Atlanta. Maybe they jumped into the situation a bit too soon, but I think it's great for the team owners. I believe the big picture will save money and get these costs contained a bit easier."

COMMENT ON PURSE STRUCTURE CREATING DARING MOVES ON THE TRACK "There's money, a trophy and prestige in winning any race. I would say 99 percent of the drivers, including myself, are out there racing for the trophy. When you have 600 miles to race that puts you in a different mindset than 400 miles and so on and so forth. So when you're racing 20-lap segments at a time that puts the IV in your arm of Saturday night late model racing. We've got to go now. I've got to get this win. If I don't win this race I won't be recognized by the bigger team owners out there when you're racing Saturday night late models. That's the mentality. I don't think it matters what money is up for grabs or what

the situation is other than the laps you have to do it in, and I think you see a lot of that in NASCAR racing. Guys will race one another a specific way for 400 miles and then the last 100 seem chaotic and filled with yellows because guys are taking more risks or are just not giving as much."

DID YOUR FAMILY HAVE GROUND RULES WHEN YOU AND KYLE WERE YOUNG RACERS? "Kyle and I grew up seven years apart, so when we raced with one another we really didn't. The only thing we ever did together was my dad had these two five-horsepower go-karts. We would throw out some Coke cans, squash them and then drive around the cul-de-sac and race each other whether it was against the stopwatch or actually in competition. Dad would put one of us in front of the other one. This is as Kyle began to mature. He was about 7 and I was 14. It was fun to do that, and we never raced against each other much. We had one race. I'd like to tell this story now because it's the only other time we've ever run into one another on the racetrack. This was whatever cul-de-sac we grew up in, I think it was the Castle Rock Court 500. That was the street we grew up on. That was the race my dad made for us that day. I let him pass, I'd get back behind him again, since I was older, I think I had a bit more experience than him. My dad said five laps. That last lap was out, so I got back in front of Kyle going into turn one. Down the back straightaway I'm leading, so I started counting my chickens. I've got this thing in the bag. Coming off turn four, I feel this nudge to the left rear. He climbs over the left-rear tire and knocks the carburetor off my go-kart. Now I don't have any power to get back to the start-finish line and he wins the race. It was like in my mind I had won the race because he had just clobbered me and wrecked me and took the power out of my car. He looked back at me and said, 'you know what, I got back to the start-finish line first, so I won.' That was the only other time we ever ran into each other, and it was funny at the time. It reminded me a lot about what happened Saturday night. We both wanted the same thing at the same time, but we ran into each other, and since we're brothers we're going to carry each other through it."

IS THERE ANY SATISFACTION IN KNOWING YOUR MISHAP SORT OF SAVED THE SHOW SATURDAY NIGIHT? "Seeing cars in the past when it was The Winston there were sparks and crashes and smoke and flames and throwing of helmets. There was stuff everywhere all the time. That's what I grew up watching Saturday night with the all-star race. It did feel like that. When I drove back into the track this morning I did think there wasn't much excitement until Kyle and I ran into each other. It created that element of the all-star racing, guys running into one another, laying it all out on the line no matter who it was. No

matter if it was Rusty dumping Darrell Waltrip for the lead coming out of turn four or if it was Kyle Petty getting together with Davey Allison at the start-finish line. It reminded me of those days. Those guys put their arms around each other and carry on to the next week and go racing again."

HOW DO YOU HANDLE THE CAMERAS IN YOUR FACE AFTER LOSING A SHOT AT A MILLION DOLLARS? "I felt like I had a decent car all night. I didn't do anything spectacular as far as leading laps. We were running second and third at the time when we did get together. The night in general, I felt like I had to have a little bit of help if we were going to win. I just didn't feel like we were capable of winning the race, so when we wrecked I was definitely trying to defend my position and give myself every opportunity to get to Kevin Harvick at that point and all that was taken away. I felt like neither one of us gave an inch to one another and when I drove back into the pit area I sat there for a moment and thought about the big picture. We were doing OK. We didn't have the best car and this is the first time me and my little brother had ever run into one another and we did it at a non-points race. We did in a circumstance that's forgivable at any cost. We forgave each other because that's what brothers do in situations like that. That was the real me. I threw some classic Kurt humor in there with 'I'm not eating any Kellogg's.' I did it with a smile, which I sometimes forgot to do in the past, and just let it all kind of roll off my shoulder. It reminded me a little bit of the Daytona 500 this year. I had a great car race. I was in contention to win. I had a guy get sideways in front of me. I ran into him with no place to go with the laps closing down. It's tough to let two races get away from you like that. The bitter part of it is the same guy ended up winning both of those races that maybe didn't have the fastest car."

-credit: dodge motorsports

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Darrell Waltrip , Kyle Petty , Kevin Harvick , Kurt Busch , Davey Allison