KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Rubbermaid Taurus (Finished 2nd) WHAT ABOUT THE ENDING? "We had a lovely day working our way from the back and continuously working on the car. I had Mark Martin's springs, Jeff Burton's swaybar and Matt Kenseth's shocks. ...
KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Rubbermaid Taurus (Finished 2nd)
WHAT ABOUT THE ENDING? "We had a lovely day working our way from the back and continuously working on the car. I had Mark Martin's springs, Jeff Burton's swaybar and Matt Kenseth's shocks. I didn't have my car today and I just have to thank my teammates on how supportive they are and how generous and willing to work together as a team on the whole situation. We're just missing an element. If we could figure that out, we'd be able to win races. We're satisfied with second today. It just seems like under the hood plagued us again. We didn't have power steering. For about 40 laps it was cutting in and out and the last 10 I bounced off the turn two wall because it just flat-out cut out. I do my physical training and I work out as best I can. There are things you can overcome and there are things you can't overcome. I'm not the size of Ryan Newman, so I guess I need to bulk up a little bit to work on handling an ill-handling car with no power steering."
WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WITH A FINISH LIKE THAT? "There were a lot of good emotions. There are a lot of rivalries out there. Ricky Craven and I for surely don't have one. We've raced one another and given each other three or four feet everytime. Going into turn one with two to go, all day long people let up on one another so that you could file in line and race through there. This is for the win and I didn't have power steering. I couldn't let up. I had to just roll my line. He got into us pretty hard, but you just drive you line as smooth and as straight as you can because you don't have power steering. The emotions of trying to get back by him, we ended up getting back by him in turn two. Coming to the line I had my foot on the floor as hard as I could and I tried to hold the wheel as straight as I could. He was running out of race track. I mean, the excitement level within the car, you have to block it out and you have to focus on what you have to do. There was so much going on. My arms were numb, my brain is numb and, of course, under the hood ended up numb as well."
HOW MUCH FUN WOULD IT HAVE BEEN WITH POWER STEERING? "We would be in Victory Lane celebrating. We would have been able to run our lap times. The car would have been in my hands. We wouldn't have been pushing as bad as we were and he wouldn't have caught us. That's the way it would have gone down. He wouldn't have been able to catch us that quickly. The car just would not turn. It had a weight of about 10,000 pounds on in when I tried to go through the corners with no power steering. Hats off to my group with the way they pull together and work every week. They pull motors in, they pull motors out and they do the best that they can changing tires. Luckily, the race was gonna end when it did."
HAS A CAR EVER WORN YOU OUT LIKE THAT AND WHAT ABOUT THE PASS OVER GORDON AND SADLER? "There have been plenty of times early in my Winston Cup career where there are so many transitions from Truck to Winston Cup, that I didn't understand. I wore myself out mentally and physically because I didn't pace myself. I absolutely just wore myself out. Dover was my first Winston Cup race ever and lap 200 rolled around and I was worn out. I was ready to go home and that was halfway. You learn to pace yourself. You learn to work in a nutritional program and physical training.
"Martinsville wears you out everytime you go, so there are times I've been worn out worse than this. When you're out there digging for the lead it kind of camouflages some of the hurt. This might show up tomorrow and it might not. With the pass for the lead, I saw it developing. Jeff Gordon's car was getting very tight up off of turn two. Elliott Sadler was driving on the apron in turn two, working his car too low, and they both raced through turn two. Normally, people single-file themselves off through turn two and I saw it coming. I made sure that I got a good run through two. I just kept it on the floor. I cut the car left and I had them both cleared by the time I got to turn three. That for surely with their drag and their momentum killed themselves in turn two and I was able to scoot by them going into three. Getting in that clean air, it helped the car turn and we rotated and drove the Ford as far out as I could get. Then the power steering cut out on us. I felt it coming. It was bobbing and weaving in and out. The car would jump sideways. I'd turn it to the right and sometimes the power steering would give up and I couldn't chase it hard enough to the right. Then with 10 to go it was gone. I had all I could do to turn the wheel."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT COMING OFF FOUR TOGETHER WITH CRAVEN? "I went into turn three trying to give Craven the impression that I was gonna go high, yet I cut the wheel down low. I was trying to make sure I made it as wide as I could getting in so he couldn't commit to a line. When you commit to a line quicker, obviously, you can generate speed through the corner. So I went into three low and there was no way I could hold it down there. The car pushed up a little bit and I knew he'd go low, so I didn't want to come back across his nose because I would have spun out and finished the last car on the lead lap. So I had to just carry the momentum towards the high side and get as much throttle-on time as I could. He started rubbing the left-rear, the door, the A-post, and as soon as he got up to my front tire it yanked the wheel out of my hand and yanked my car completely into his. That killed my momentum and then we stayed locked from there. I grabbed as much wheel as I could and finally yanked it back to the right to get off of him by the time we got to the start-finish line, but my momentum had been killed after that. It was just a hard-fought battle. We came up a bit shy, but I'm real proud to finish second and represent my Rubbermaid Ford and all the great people that work behind me. We're just missing a couple little elements. If we could get more track time, I think we would be further ahead."
HOW BIG WAS TODAY AS FAR AS GETTING MOMENTUM BACK? "We approach each race individually. We try not to tie strings together because, usually, you can't predict what's gonna happen. We go to Bristol next week. We won there last year in the spring and finished sixth in the fall, but if somebody gets into you just the wrong way, you end up in the inside fence and you finish 40th or something. We do the best we can each week. It's tough that we go through the woes that we go through. Each championship-type team is gonna have those. Any team that finishes in the top 10 is gonna have DNFs that plague their overall outcome. We came to Darlington with a little spring in our step because we're confident at this race track. We know we can make changes on the car during the race to make it better and this place, just like Rockingham, I feel real comfortable with and things are good. We go to Las Vegas and, yeah, we end up in a wreck, but we just got caught up in the back of the pack when the wreck happened. Atlanta, under the hood, that didn't help us progress forward, so we've just go to go next week to Bristol in a short-track frame of mind and know what we have to do there."
IS THIS A GRUDGE KIND OF FINISH WITH RICKY OR WILL YOU SHAKE HANDS WITH HIM? "I can't wait to go see him. That was the coolest finish I've ever seen and I'm glad I got to be a part of it. It's a bit stale that I was on the wrong end of it, but it was just an awesome duel between two guys that don't win all that often and ones that excel at conserving tires. You always see Ricky Craven excel at Rockingham, Darlington, Atlanta and he always runs up front. It's great to see him get that Pontiac into Victory Lane. We've got our Ford deal scienced out and I think we can start moving forward. This is something where we'll slap high-fives and drink a couple beers to later on."
WHEN BURTON DROPPED OUT WITH ENGINE TROUBLE DID YOU GET WORRIED? "You try to block it out of your mind. It's the same story each week and you try to give it your best effort. If you end up with a positive result, then you get one. So far we've had five races this year. We've finished second in three of them and we've broken in two of them. That's the way it goes."
TALK ABOUT STARTING LAST HERE? "You go into the race with a different mindset. I sat on the pole here in the fall of 2001 and you're up front and you're running hard and you're running fast and you're able to make adjustments on the car because you have all that clean air. But when you start in the back at a place like this, you have to have a different frame of mind. You almost have to be somewhat oblivious to what's going on and I proved that by missing pit road the one time trying to get down in turn three and make it into where I needed to go. The car was so loose I couldn't get it whoa'd up without the right-front digging in and the rear end sliding around. You just pass one car here and one car there and make sure you don't slip a tire there. We had a nice sequence of pit stops to where we were able to make up time and, boom, we were running up front. You never know how you're gonna get there, you never know when you're gonna get there. You just race the race track here and, low and behold, we ended up in the top five and now it's time to work on the car, time to go for the win and we almost got it today. It is cool starting in the back because you think completely different."
HOW MUCH CONFIDENCE DID YOU HAVE COMING INTO THE RACE? "With lack of happy hour time we were forced to weigh all the options that we had. We looked at Greg Biffle's sheet, we looked at Matt Kenseth's, we looked at Jeff Burton's and Mark Martin and I are usually somewhat similar on the sheet as far as our setups. We combined a little bit of everybody and that was all we could do. We took each and every driver's input on what they had to say. Mark said he was stellar with these types of springs in it and Burton like these types of shocks. It's just the way that you listen to people talk. We had a nice team meeting. It was something we started this year and I'm glad we could come out on the positive side of that meeting because it gave us a better confidence boost going into the race because we didn't have any happy hour time on the race track. We didn't have it in the fall race as well. We broke in the Southern 500 in happy hour and didn't have any track time, so it's been tough for us. We had to put other people's setups in the car and do the best we could with it. So, big band-aids here or there, we're happy with our finish."
HOW FAR INTO THE RACE DID YOU KNOW IT WAS GOING TO WORK? "About lap 20 or so I kept telling my spotter to remind me this wasn't my race car and that it was Jeff Burton's is what it felt like the most. You sit there and look as a driver and you look at a setup sheet and you know that something is tight. You've got to be able to work around it with your driving style - the way you turn the wheel, the way you let off the gas and apply throttle - just all the jargon that a race car driver does. My spotter kept reminding me what you had to do to drive the car, so I drove a little bit like Jeff Burton. He's the master here at Darlington, so 20 laps in we changed our driving style. I kept changing the car towards what I thought I needed to win and it just ended up a little bit short."
YOUR RIGHT SHOE IS A LITTLE WORN OUT. IS THAT WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE GOING INTO TODAY? "It has nice padding like NASA-type material and I guess it's chafing a little bit too much. Here you work the throttle more than you do any other race track besides short tracks. It's a lot of fun. I enjoy coming here. It's a driver's type race track. You've got to have a balance of aerodynamics and chassis setup and you've got to have the will to race the race track, instead of other drivers."