KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) WHAT'S YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THE COCA-COLA 600? "With the way that our car ran last weekend, we had a nice solid run and gave us a third-place finish in some of those short segments; we felt like we could...
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) WHAT'S YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THE COCA-COLA 600? "With the way that our car ran last weekend, we had a nice solid run and gave us a third-place finish in some of those short segments; we felt like we could work on our car in different areas and improve (it). So far, the car that we brought this weekend - the Taste Protector Miller Lite Dodge - it's exciting to carry an announcement that Miller Lite is using the race car to help promote it. This is the car that we used at Atlanta, and so far it hasn't showed us the strength that it did there in practice today. Immediately, we had a plan and we had to divert from that so that we could get the car squared away and sitting down on the race track the way we want to. Other than that, we're throwing some ideas around for qualifying tonight. We hope to be in the top 10 or 15. We don't have a pole winning car, but we may surprise ourselves. I just feel like we're working from a little bit behind. Overall, (it's been) a nice steady season for us. We need a nice, good finish again this weekend. It would be nice to have practice tomorrow, but we're going to have a day to dwell on it. Saturday will be a great day to get our car dialed-in, especially that last practice that's from six-to-seven o'clock - that's when the track resembles as close as it can to when we run the full 600 miles. So lots of work still to be done, but I'm feeling good about things."
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE OFF-DAY TOMORROW? "For me, I always end up volunteering for too many appearances tomorrow. I have three, two-hour appearances, so I have a full day. We're hitting all-three (Charlotte-area) corners of the world for racing this weekend in one day. With those three appearances, our day will be full."
WHY DOES THIS RACE PLAY OUT FOR THE IMPROBABLE DRIVER TO WIN? "That's a tough one to answer, but yet it's easy to think about that this race is so long, that sometimes your setup is good at the beginning of the race that it doesn't necessarily mean that it's a good setup at the end. When the track continues to cool down, it can bring forth a car that you never expected that can be running 15th during the day or even go a lap down, and that setup continues to get better and better and the race track comes to them. When you're a first-time winner, a lot of times you don't have a pre-conceived notion of what to put (tune-up) in your car. This is what we did in the past to win here, and this is what we need to do. Sometimes you just roll with it. You try to forecast what the track will be like at eight o'clock, nine o'clock at night on Sunday and it produces first-time winners because there's really so many miles of racing that it changes the race track, and that happens."
ARE YOU GUYS READY TO CHALLENGE FOR A NASCAR CHAMPIONSHIP? IF NOT, WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO DO TO CONTEND? "It's been a great season and there's been highlights that I've seen that are just where they need to be that compared to my 2004 (championship) season. There have been a few areas that we've improved on, and still can continue to improve on. But there's just a small thing here and small thing there that I'm seeing that if we can get that conquered by the Richmond race in September, then that will make us as strong as we can be. In the meantime, we have to get cars prepared to run in the Chase races. You have to have your best stuff every week. Just like this car this weekend, we won in Atlanta with it, tried something different in Texas, brought it back again this weekend - once we can get through these three races and decided which direction to start building cars towards this summer, that will help us get stronger and stronger because that 26th race is the cutoff (for the Chase) and you have to have everything ready to go at that 26th race. And right now, we don't quite have the direction we need."
WOULD THIS RACE LOSE ITS PRESTEGE IF IT WERE SHORTER? WOULD IT BE YOUR PERSONAL PREFERNCE FOR THIS RACE TO BE SHORTER? "I believe (the 600) would lose a bit of its strength as one of the crown jewels (of motorsports). This is a very prestigious race because it is here in Charlotte and because there is 600 miles attached to it. I believe that (the race) is a marathon feel. I think that every race fan buys a ticket knowing that they're going to see a marathon-type race and that they get a full day into evening effect during the 600 miles. In my opinion, it's the right length. I think that this race sets itself up apart because it is this length. The question that I had when I was growing up watching races on TV and they popped up with the Brickyard 400 was, "Wait a minute, why isn't it 500 miles like the Indianapolis 500 is?" Well, that's because they want that race to be more prestigious and it's an opportunity to set itself apart. And that's why I think why the Brickyard 400 is what it is for that race track. This is the 600 because the 600 seems to be more important the (Indianapolis) 500 because we both race on the same day this Sunday. So, Indy has their big race, but stock cars wanted to one-up them and race another 100 miles."
HAVE YOU GUYS COME TO THE POINT THAT YOU HAVE ENOUGH OF A HANDLE ON THIS NEW CAR THAT YOU ARE FINDING THE CARS DO HAVE DISTINCT PERSONALITIES AND THAT THERE ARE DIFFERENT CARS THAT WORK BETTER ON DIFFERENT TRACKS? "That is definitely happening now. Maybe we were to naÃ--ve at Penske Racing to think that we could run a car at Martinsville, and then take it to Talladega the next week; that might have shown in our results last year. And now, our car count is getting back up to where it was before. Our performance seems to be going that way with it. Why I say you have to have all your ducks in a row, and your best stuff ready to go for the Chase, is that we could have taken the car that we have this weekend to Texas - which is the car that won at Atlanta - we wanted to try something a little different in Texas to find a better direction for the Charlotte weekend. We feel like this is our best bullet in the garage right now, that's why we run it for this race. Dover next week we'll want something different. And then you go to Michigan and so on and so forth. It's a long season. Those 26 races can go by quick though if you're unprepared. Right now, we're trying to get ourselves for this summer run to make us stronger for what we hope is our Chase run."
-credit: dodge motorsports