Transcripts: Charlotte Motor Speedway May 30, 2010 An interview with: KURT BUSCH - Winner STEVE ADDINGTON - Crew chief KERRY THARP: We have our winner of the Coca-Cola 600, Kurt Busch. This is his 22nd career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series...
Transcripts: Charlotte Motor Speedway
May 30, 2010
An interview with:
KURT BUSCH - Winner
STEVE ADDINGTON - Crew chief
KERRY THARP: We have our winner of the Coca-Cola 600, Kurt Busch. This is his 22nd career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory, his second win in a points race in 2010. Back-to-back weekends winning here at Charlotte, Kurt, got to feel good for you.
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, this has been a dream come true, to be able to wrap up this special weekend, to put a bow on it with this Coca-Cola 600 win. It's a prestigious race, a tough race, and most of all it's a team race.
This was a fantastic job by my guys that battled all day long to keep me up front. I don't know what our worst running position was, but I can't say it was worse than fifth or sixth maybe. Great pit stops, great calls by Steve Addington, Dave Winston, my guys.
This was a race for the ages to. Have a car as good as it was in the daytime, I was afraid of it at night. I didn't know if it was going to be able to give me the handle like it had early on in the race. It played out in our favor. I'm speechless in the fact that we swept both races. But it's an unbelievable weekend for Miller Lite, their Vortex bottle, Memorial Day weekend for all of our troops giving us our freedom. I thought about those guys all day long. When you're out there racing your heart out, you see things come your way, you just have to thank the Lord as well. Things fell into our hands, especially at the end.
To get a caution, quick adjustment, make our car even better. McMurray kept us honest. He was right there at the end. It wasn't like we faded back into the pack; he just separated himself from the pack to come and get us. He taught me a couple things about my line. I needed to adjust it. It helped us stay out in front of him at the end.
Real happy we were able to bring this home, especially for Dodge. We're going to celebrate big Memorial Day with Miller Lites tomorrow. When the Dodge dealerships open up, when Kurt wins, you win. Hopefully whoever signed up is going to get a Dodge Challenger. Happy to bring that home for somebody.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions now for Kurt Busch.
Q: Kurt, I think it was while you were celebrating on the track you said over your radio, We get to go into the real Victory Lane at Charlotte. What did you mean by that?
KURT BUSCH: Well, it's hallowed ground to get to stand where some of the greats have stood. Over the years with the All-Star Race, they bring a big trailer out on the front straightaway. It's great to celebrate on the front straightaway old-school style like you would do on a Saturday night show. That's what it makes you feel like the Saturday night Shootout in a late model race and you're right there with the fans.
But when you go into hallowed ground, when you go into Victory Lane at Charlotte, I've missed out on a couple poles, never got to taste it, never got to feel it. It was very special to drive the Miller Lite Dodge in there today. The car I was driving 600 miles, to drive it in there, it was pretty special.
Q: Kurt, could you talk about getting Roger his first win in the Coca-Cola 600. I take it he wasn't here, is that right? I know he was in Indy.
KURT BUSCH: I talked to him yesterday, wished him luck for this weekend. I told him last Thursday that we missed the pole by four hundredths of a second but I'm going to try not to let you down in the big show. He said he would be watching on TV. I was a bit puzzled. I was hoping he would be celebrating up at Indy with a big win.
Roger is an amazing individual. I'm happy to race for him and bring him home wins, especially on a day like today when he didn't get it at Indy and we beat a Ganassi car today to win it. That's something special. I keep saying the word 'special' because the 600 is really, really something that I think of the greats that have this style trophy sitting in their case. My team helped me do that today.
To beat a Ganassi car, McMurray, those guys kept us honest, he was in the mix. If I could say anything, I would say Ganassi should give that guy a raise and pay that man.
Q: Kurt, since you won the championship, you've had a lot of wins, a lot of solid showings, been competitive. Putting these races back-to-back sort of makes you the guy at this moment in time since 2004. People are going to say, Maybe this guy is the favorite for the championship.
KURT BUSCH: It's tough. I'm not one to go out there with a big flash and a big flair. I used to early on. I'd run my head up against the wall. I'd run my racecar up against the wall. Reviews came in negative.
For me, that's not how I wanted to be remembered, how I wanted to be looked at, sitting there on the porch talking with my grandkids about things.
That 2003 taught me a lot. 2004 backed up what I was thinking from my mindset. So you go out there. A guy like Jeff Burton, Mark Martin, those kind of guys I learned a lot from at Roush Racing when I was having my troubles. I look up to those guys tremendously. Those guys don't get a lot of that flash or flair or recognition, but they're one of the greats in our sport.
A weekend like this, walking in here today, I looked at this ring, I've got the ring from last weekend, we're going to make a big team ring on the Charlotte sweep weekend and give it to all the Penske employees and commemorate what this means to be able to dominate on two weekends like this in Charlotte. It ranks right up there with one of the championship emotions I had in 2004.
Q: It's been a pretty good month for your family. This is six in a row now between you and your brother. Who has the better chance to continue to streak next week?
KURT BUSCH: Well, we both do. I like our chances with the way that our team's clicking. Those guys were strong the last few weeks, like at Richmond and Dover. Darlington, he was strong as well.
For us, our game right now, this team's clicking on all eight cylinders. We have to keep going, finding new things to make our Dodges faster. If I had to say who had the better chance, I love Pocono. Right now we've been doing good on tracks that I struggle on. I'm going to say I struggle on all the racetracks coming up so we don't beat ourselves.
Q: Could you comment on what you told your team over the radio about sweeping the checkbook here at Charlotte. Also, for a guy who does struggle here, to have such a great weekend, what does it say for you and your team the rest of the way?
KURT BUSCH: It means we're having another pizza party, beer and pizza party, during this week. It's a week of celebration. It's a week of some more hard work. We have to continue to stay focused and to get everything as good as we can make it for the next week.
I might have forgot the second part of your question. But the way that we just have to stay focused, celebrate this week when we can, then get on it with Pocono next week. We'll just have to continue on.
Q: How have you been able to run as well as you have, being the one Dodge team out there, instead of having anything to share with people?
KURT BUSCH: It's fun. It's a great relationship I have with Ralph Gilles, our CEO at Dodge, and our engineers that give us the support up there in Detroit that work closely with Steve Addington, Tom, our lead engineer back at the race shop. To put all your eggs in one basket, to look at it, to have the skeptics think it was going to put us behind, you know, it's a fight, don't get me wrong. I feel like sometimes we're out on an island. But we're out there and it feels good to have those guys on our side.
KERRY THARP: Let's hear from our winning crew chief. That's Steve Addington. Steve, terrific job out there calling the shots in the pit box. Got to feel good being in Victory Lane back-to-back weekends at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
STEVE ADDINGTON: It's awesome. I don't know how to describe the feeling, but I know it feels really good to look on the guys' faces when you cross that finish line first. That's what it's all about. I love seeing the guys happy, and their hard work pays off.
We sit and talk about what we need to put in the racecar. The guys that are out there making pit stops and working on the car are the ones that really put their sweat and blood out there for us to be able to run good. That's the big key for me, is to be able to come to Charlotte and run this good.
KERRY THARP: Questions for Kurt or Steve Addington.
Q: How big of a change, small change, did you make to the car, if any, on that final pit stop? Did Kurt know all of a sudden he had a better racecar?
STEVE ADDINGTON: Put the red wheels on it. They were telling me that Kurt, he turned around and looked and saw the red wheels after his interview on TV. He was like, What's it's doing with red wheels on it?
We were just trying to keep our car balanced right. We look at different things in the tire sets. From where we were the best, that's where we wanted to be at the end of the race. We went down and borrowed a set of tires. We were getting low on tires. They were having to glue them up. We were worried about a pit stop costing us a race because the lug nuts weren't dried on the wheels. I sent the tire guys down to the 77 pit. They had a set of tires that pretty much matched where we were at our best. So that's why we ended up with red wheels on it. Instead of getting a set from Goodyear, not knowing what we had, we kept it consistent to what was on the car. That was the big difference. The guys busted off a heck of a pit stop right there at the end.
It was going to be, if we went out behind the 1 car, I felt like the 1 car would have won the race. We were matching each other lap time for lap time. It's hard to pass when you're doing that. When he was in front of us, we were running the same lap times as him. When he was behind us, he was running the same lap times as us.
That pit stop was key to getting off in the restart to win the race.
Q: The last couple runs before that final pit stop, you were fast early, then Jamie would catch up to you and pass you. Were you worried 21, 22 laps was going to be just enough for him to get you right at the end or did you think with the red wheels you were going to be able to hold him off?
KURT BUSCH: That special set of matched red wheels.
I feel like when we did get behind him, help him with the debris on the radiator, when things go your way, they just click. When we had that stop, car got a little tight when we were behind him. We were running till the end. With the caution coming out with 25 or so, my crew put me out in front. I told them to loosen me up. I thought we would do in 20. If we had a 50-lap run in the end, he might have had the stronger car.
I think what we saw last week with our power on the short run to win that All-Star Race, we would have been foolish to do anything different except leave that setup in and work around it. Maybe McMurray was a little better at the end. It wasn't like we fell back into the clutches of the group; he separated himself to come up and get us. I don't know how many laps we led today, but it was an awesome feeling.
Q: What did you learn from last Saturday night's race that was able to help you tonight?
KURT BUSCH: Just the general setup, some of the aerodynamic balances. The engine didn't hurt last week. So I was pushing hard on those engine guys. Hey, can I have this power for 600 miles? You know, they looked at me funny and said, You got to take care of it. You can't put miles on it in practice.
It's a different package slightly from the hundred-lap sprint last week to this 400 miler. Just an overall package. I couldn't be happier to have Steve, Dave Winston, Tom, all of our guys bouncing ideas off of each other. There's not one week that we don't improve something on our cars when we show up.
Q: The 48 looked like it had crashed out completely tonight. They went in 33 laps later and came back out. You are ahead of them in points. How important is it for you to consider when an incident like that happens to turn around and get the car back on track? Is that more important than ever these days running to the Chase?
STEVE ADDINGTON: Yeah, it's big. You've got to go back there and assess the damage and try to get back out, whether it's for four points anymore, to get a car back out there.
When I saw the wreck, I thought they were probably pretty much done. But those guys aren't going to give up. They're after a championship. They want to be in this Chase. That's the way they are. That's the mentality of them. That's the mentality of every one of us in the garage area.
Yes, it's big to get the car back there, get it fixed as quick as possible, get it back out there to make up as many points as you can.
They're going to be a championship contender. If you're going to win this championship, you're going to have to beat those guys and you're going to have to beat the Gibbs bunch and Hendricks bunch to win this championship. That's what we're concentrating on, is making our stuff better to do that.
Q: How much does it mean to get Roger Penske a win here in the 600, especially after the guys at Indy couldn't get the victory, having the Ganassi guy finish behind you after the Ganassi team won at Indy?
KURT BUSCH: It's just a dream weekend that we've had starting last Saturday night. It even started on Friday night with us getting the pole with that rain-out. We almost dug out a clean sweep with the pole, just 400 short. All of it's due to the teamwork.
When you sit back and think about it, coming into the media center here, going to Victory Lane, when it starts to sink in, the first person I think about is Roger Penske. When I came to the program, we won at Michigan early on. That was special. We won the Daytona 500 together. Ryan Newman did, I pushed him to try to help do it. I always feel like I got a little bit of that win. To win the 600 and All-Star back to back, this is something that will be front and center in Roger's NASCAR trophy case. I was happy to deliver, especially having Miller Lite on the side of the car, because this isn't a farewell tour, we'll still be with those guys. Anytime we can get Miller in Victory Lane this year and get beers sold, that's our job.
Q: Steve, with this big weekend sweep, was Saturday that big of a shot in the arm from your team or has it been business as usual and this is the fruit of your labors?
STEVE ADDINGTON: It's the fruit and the labor of all the guys on the race team. We came over here and tested for two days. Like I told them, we did not have a very good test. We went back and sat down and evaluated the program to come back over here with something totally different.
I heard it from him as it was a science project. I said, This is what we're going to throw at it. He said, Anything, man. I don't run good at Charlotte. We'll see how it shakes out.
That's what we did. It's the fruits of the labor of the guys that worked, that I kept there working overtime late at night when they wanted to go home and see their kids, to make this change in the car before we came to the All-Star Race and unloaded and had a great weekend. We went back and worked late. We get it in the 600 car, it works out for us. That makes me feel good, that we were able to do that on two different cars and give him the feel he needs in the cars.
Q: Jamie was in here, showered you with compliments a little bit. Had a little fun with you on the radio. Said to tell you at one point during the race that he was going to be coming up to get you. Is there a different sense of comfort level racing against somebody you know off the track for the win? Also I noticed that Chip Ganassi went out of his way to congratulate Penske on the victory. You have a rivalry on the track. There seems to be a great sense of respect between the two programs.
KURT BUSCH: You said it exactly right. The two individuals in the car and the two individuals owning the cars have a lot of respect for each other. With Jamie, he's a great competitor. He's always been a bit underrated. I think he's a strong guy that shows up every week that gives it his all. His workout regimen, his commitment to racing has always been there. I'm happy to see him land on his feet over at Ganassi. To win the 500, I thought he was showing up on another big money race, I didn't want him to do that. To do it for Roger, to beat Ganassi, that's what it's all about. It's having that fresh rivalry, like you said. To be able to do it, a few weeks back at Darlington, I followed McMurray around all day. I know that I was hungry for a BicMac because he was driving the McDonald's car then. I know he's going to stop by and have a Miller Lite tomorrow because he was following us. It's just like that with us when we're outside the racetrack.
Q: At this point you seem to have the mile-and-a-half's figured out, lots of success finishing-wise so far. Do you not feel that way, Steve? With three months left until the Chase begins, what more do you have to do to position yourself for that time of the year?
STEVE ADDINGTON: We're a long ways from having it figured out. I think we need to go back after these two weekends of the direction that we went to come here to Charlotte to race, it was big. I'll sit down with Dave Winston and the guys and talk about the direction we need to go to Pocono, especially him. This guy is the one that has to drive it. He's going to tell us whether we're going in the right direction or not.
We've talked about the places that he ran good last year, and some of the places he struggled. We ran good at the places he struggled last year. We've changed up a little bit. So I think that we need to evaluate that and go forward and get better as we go.
As long as we're getting better, that's the big key. Giving him what he needs in a racecar is the only reason that I do this, come to work here, is to give this guy what he needs to go win races. We've got to evaluate where we're going to go to Pocono and start. That is big. We came here and accomplished what we needed to accomplish. We made gains.
I was sitting there thinking, even when we were running second, This is a big step for us if we finish second. It came down to let's do a pit stop and beat them out and we won the race. Two equal cars there. To make the gains from where we were at the test, from the feedback I got from the test to leave here, I wasn't real excited about it. It was like, We got to make a difference here. And we did. He liked it. So I'm excited about it, but we still got to real dissect it to go forward.
KURT BUSCH: What I really enjoy about Steve is the confidence he gives me in the car and the adjustments that he makes. When he come into the sport, you're going to drive the wheels off anything and you can overstep the line and wreck some cars. As you get more experience, you line up with an experienced crew chief, there's some times when I'll just go, Hey, make a change. I'll drive the wheels off it, whatever you give me.
I feel like he's helped me pick up my game because I have to have a fresher outlook on different setups. Like he says, getting back to the basics, going with some old-school things, that's what we've done these last couple weeks. He got that vibe off of the poor test we had here at Charlotte based off my comments. So we'll keep plugging forward.
Q: Matt and Kyle have new crew chiefs. We don't see so many new driver/crew chief situations. Is there something happening that the three of you guys are in the top six?
KURT BUSCH: I'll say that the COT, there's guys that have been on one team and now they're on another. There's trends they saw and they matched. A little bit of switch-up here and there. When he came available last fall, I knew we had to have him. His experience level is second to none. His résumé speaks for itself. Guys like Kyle, Kenseth, even Truex, Pat Tryson is a great guy, knows what we were running over there. They're running strong with that 56 camp, too.
KERRY THARP: Guys, congratulations. Good luck at Pocono.
STEVE ADDINGTON: Thank you.
KURT BUSCH: Thank you.