Darlington: Kurt Busch - Friday media visit

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) TALK ABOUT RACING HERE AT DARLINGTON? "I'm still looking for that first win (at Darlington). I still have that feeling that this place is special. It's been special to me, especially because of 2003...

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) TALK ABOUT RACING HERE AT DARLINGTON?

"I'm still looking for that first win (at Darlington). I still have that feeling that this place is special. It's been special to me, especially because of 2003 when Ricky Craven and I finished two-thousandths of a second apart. I get to tell that story many times. Each time that I tell it, I think that I'm going to win it one day, but I always end up a bit short. It's a great place to race, it's real exciting. The fun factor here is higher than most tracks just due to how tough this place is (to race at). Back in the day when they built this place 60 years ago and since then, I believe that this is a track that has always measured the drivers and their talent, ability to drive. Guys like (David) Pearson, (Richard) Petty, (Cale) Yarborough, all the big names - Jeff Gordon has won here many times. It's a very prestigious place and a tough place to win and everybody has it on their list to win. Hopefully, this weekend we can get our car running well. Our Miller Lite Dodge has been running well this year. We're hoping that our setup from Vegas can give us a good benchmark for where we need to start this weekend."

HAVING PARTICIPATED IN THE CLOSEST RACE IN NASCAR HISTORY, DOES IT EAT ON YOU MORE NOT TO HAVE WON HERE BEFORE BECAUSE YOU PARTICIPATED IN SOMETHING THAT CLOSE, OR DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU GOT A PIECE OF THE WIN ANYWAY? "For me, it doesn't egg me or give me anymore dissatisfaction that I haven't won here. You're always challenging yourself to win at all the race tracks and get as many wins that you can. Each weekend is a new opportunity to do so. I feel that this is one of my best chances at winning here at Darlington. Finishing second to (Ricky) Craven still feels like a win, yet, yeah, I didn't get the trophy. Darlington is that special place that you really want on your trophy shelf."

ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT TONY STEWART HASN'T WON HERE YET? "To hear that Tony (Stewart) hasn't won here is a surprise. The way that this season has been going with the guys that haven't won at certain race tracks or haven't won with their new teams such as (Jeff) Gordon at Texas, Mark Martin at Phoenix, to hear now that Tony hasn't won here sounds like he's going to be a tough guy to beat this weekend."

DO YOU FEEL THAT SAM HORNISH JR. IS FINALLY STARTING TO GET HIS FOOTING IN THE CUP SERIES? "Yeah, I feel like Sam has been working at clawing his way to the top 10 and finishing in the top 10 at the last couple of races. The steady progress that he's made is definitely something that we were looking forward to. I think that his crew chief Travis Geisler is settling in with Sam and finding that groove. It's tough when you go to all these race tracks for the first time; it just seems that you can't ever get caught up. You come back for the second year, you're seeing these race tracks for a third time, it's easy to digest, it's easier to figure out the next step that you have to make and we're starting to see some good results."

CAN YOU QUANTIFY THE IMPACT OF THE NEW DODGE R6P8 ENGINE AND YOUR TEAM'S PERFORMANCE? "I would say that (using the new R6P8 engine) is the biggest impact in the changes that we've made - going to the new R6 engine. I talked with Roger (Penske) last year about five or six weeks before the Chase started. I said that our chances are slim in making the Chase, what is the new direction? Where do we go with the new engine? Is it something that we're going to develop for 2010 and beyond? Why can't we get it started now? And so that was a tough decision that I couldn't make, Roger had to make (it). But I had to push for it because if you're trying to build towards the future, why not use the present to do it. Getting it out on the race track was the smartest thing that I think that we could have done at the end of last year. To go into the wind tunnel during the off-season and find different things aerodynamically, that's been a plus. We've changed our setups around to run more aggressive shocks and some more aggressive spring settings. That's changed us quite a bit. But the biggest percentage I would have to say has been the engine department helping us out."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU'VE MELLOWED AS YOU'VE AGED IN THE SPORT? "I feel like five or six years ago when the headlines where what they were (about me) was definitely a rude awakening due to looking at the big picture in life, sitting on the porch talking to me grandkids and talking about racing, that's not what I wanted them to visualize me as. I wanted something different. I felt like it was going to take a strong effort by me to really change and sort out what I needed to sort out and that was to race aggressively, competitively and yet sit back and have a little bit more fun with it and not take it as serious. I think that has helped the overall outlook on where I've gone, especially since switching teams to Penske Racing and following Roger's leadership. With working with Roger and building up this team and getting this 2 team back competitive every week, that's been a fun and satisfying project. It's just not the run around with your hair on fire running for the lead anymore. There's more responsibilities and it's a balance in life of racing, then you have the business part of it, and then you have the family part as well."

HOW WOULD YOU EVALUATE JUSTIN ALGEIR'S DEVELOPMENT? "I think that he's progressed really well in just his few short races in the Nationwide Series. He does really well on the communication with the crew chief and team members on his program. When you listen in to him on the radio, he just says the right things about the car; what changes do you want to make? What he's feeling. So I like that. There's times where you see it right away in drivers, and then there's times where it takes more time for a driver to development. So, I like Justin. It's just a matter of is there a seat available and what's going to happen for his future. I've always said that I jumped up (to the NASCAR series) too quick, going from the (NASCAR Camping World) truck series into Cup. I would have loved to have two seasons in truck, two seasons in Nationwide. Sometimes you have that luxury, sometimes you don't. If you have that option to have a little bit more time developing (as a driver), I think that's a plus."

HOW WOULD YOU COMPARE KYLE BUSH THE DRIVER THREE OR FOUR YEARS AGO TO TODAY? "I think that he's done an incredible job transitioning from Hendrick Motorsports over to Joe Gibbs Racing. Has he changed much? I really don't think that he has. He's still that aggressive driver that has that tenacity just to go for the front all the time. I think it's in the Busch brother DNA. For him, he's definitely got that aggressive stance when he's standing in the garage area and when he's out on the track. Sometimes it can go over the edge. To me, I saw that early on. I see it now. I love him as a brother; love him as a racer, he's that guy who's going for it all the time. If it works out, it turns out good. If it doesn't work out, it turns out bad. Those are the risks versus the reward. Right now he's got it going on pretty good whether it's Cup, Nationwide or truck."

WHY DO THE FANS LOVE DALE EARNHARDT JR. SO MUCH? "We love Dale Jr. Obviously, the relationship he had with his father (Dale Sr.) was very special. When you learn from a seven-time champion of stock car racing, you definitely have different shoes that you're going to wear everyday and shoes to fill when you jump in and race. And when he jumped in, he hit the scene on fire. He came in like gangbusters, won some races, almost Rookie of the Year against Matt Kenseth. It's just he is 'pure bred'. Just that feel that you get knowing that Dale Jr. came from that bloodline, it creates that popularity. The way that we lost Dale Sr., a lot of fans were lost and not knowing which direction to turn and I think we all looked at Dale Jr. as that void to fill in for what we lost."

YOU MENTIONED CLOSE RACES. IS IT STRATEGY, INSTINCTS, WHAT HELPS YOU GET OVER THE HUMP TO WIN CLOSE RACES? "It's definitely a team effort that you have to have every week to win. There's times where you go off of instincts when you see cars two-wide in front of you and you know that you can clear them three-wide and you don't check-up, you just keep with that first instinct. And then there's times where there are calculated moves that you make and you take your time and worry about the patience part of it. And then there's times when the pit crew will give you an adjustment on the car or part of the strategy that the crew chief brewed up, and that will put you out on top. You never know. That's why this game is so fun and interesting and that it's just not two guys battling it out, it's 43 drivers out on the track vying for the win."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Kurt Busch , Ricky Craven
Teams Team Penske , Hendrick Motorsports , Joe Gibbs Racing , CIP