Daytona 500: Busch, Johnson, Sprague press conference, Part I

An interview with: KURT BUSCH, Second Place JIMMIE JOHNSON, Third Place JACK SPRAGUE, Top Rookie Page 1 of 2 Moderator: Kurt, you started 36th, climbed up through the field. Kind of came out of nowhere at the end. What goes through...

An interview with:
KURT BUSCH, Second Place
JIMMIE JOHNSON, Third Place
JACK SPRAGUE, Top Rookie

Page 1 of 2

Moderator: Kurt, you started 36th, climbed up through the field. Kind of came out of nowhere at the end. What goes through your mind when you see Michael Waltrip ahead of you and then the rain starts to fall?

Kurt Busch: It's a bittersweet finish for us obviously. We do most of our work under the radar, quietly. The way we have to negotiate around these plate tracks, it's difficult in many aspects. The DEI cars have some sort of rap that nobody else has. RCR seems to have sniffed some stuff out where it's competitive. Then the Hendricks stable seems to be catching on. Seems like more and more Chevys are catching on. We're elated to bring a Ford on in second place.

Moderator: We'll get some quick questions for Kurt Busch. We've been joined by Jack Sprague, top finishing rookie, finished 14th today in his first Daytona 500.

Q: Kurt, you finished so strong at the end of last year, then today, this has got to give you some good momentum.

Busch: Everybody shows up at Daytona on a clean slate. But, yeah, we did have some momentum from last year. The guys were really pumped up about getting started. We put as much work as we possibly could in our Ford Taurus to make it go fast.

We finished fourth last spring, wonderful finish. This one's a little bit better. I guess if the race continued forward, the 8 car would have worked its way back on the lead lap and we would have had to dealt with two DEI cars. It was amazing. I can give you some insight from the driver's seat.

When the 8 car dropped out, everybody's eyes lit up, everyone's foot got heavy. It was a whole new race. Whether we finished out or continued forward, we're happy with our finish.

Moderator: Questions for Jack Sprague.

Q: What do you think about the Daytona 500 finishing under caution?

Jack Sprague: Both ways, I guess. It's a shame that the Daytona 500 had to finish a little over halfway. This is the big race that everybody comes to see. They saw half of it.

On the other side of that coin, we stayed out there all day, stayed out of trouble, rode around, stayed on the high side. Just kind of out of sight, out of mind. Came home 14th.

That's a great accomplishment for this team. This is a brand-new team, NetZero Pontiac Grand Prix. That's definitely a good finish for us. You don't get a lot of help with that yellow stripe on your bumper anyway.

I guess bittersweet, like Kurt said.  We would have liked to
see the race go the rest of the way.  Maybe something would have happened
to one, both of us, neither of us, who knows at this point.  We know he
ran 2nd, I ran 14th.  He's pretty happy, I'm pretty happy.

Q: Talk about finishing the Daytona 500 under caution today, Kurt.

Busch: It's difficult to accept and to swallow. It's the greatest race we go to every year. It's the beginning of the season for us. You know, whether or not we continued forward, it was the weather's decision. With the whole eastern seaboard right now being snowed in, rained in, there was a lot of weather that made the final outcome what it is.

We had a great TV audience, a lot of people were probably at home snowed in. It would have been great to finish it, great to put on a show for people that normally don't get a chance to see NASCAR racing because they would have been out. Somewhat upsetting to see the race come to an end so soon.

Q: You had some bad luck this week. Had to bring out a backup car. Talk about your team and the process of getting your car up through today?

Busch: No backup car for us, no. We ran the primary car all week. With all the practices they gave us, it for sure looked like a backup car by Saturday afternoon. They had to pull a lot of Bondo, put sheet metal on the rear fenders, straighten out the rear bumper -- seemed like I was holding a lot of people up through the whole week.

The guys built the best car they could possibly give me to come for the Bud Shootout, to come to qualify, to race that 125. We had an altercation with Harvick on pit road where I decided to pit with the group, and I committed too late. Spun us on pit road. We did run across his own. Jackman got some bumps and bruises. We had an up-and-down week. Every time we come to Daytona, it's eventful. We're happy to come out of here with a Top 5, the same as we did last year.

Q: Jack, after Friday, do you think today's race went well for you? Talk about your rookie stripe maybe have hurting you last week, then carrying over to today.

Sprague: It wasn't Friday. I don't know what day we qualified. It was Monday. It's one of those deals. Like I said, I'm not going to talk about it anymore, I've talked about it enough. I could have stopped the situation from happening, but I didn't start it. But I learned a lot through that whole ordeal, how some of these guys race.

Therefore today I kept my nose clean, stayed out of trouble, rode around, didn't push any issues, stayed up by the wall. My car was a little tight, but it run faster on the top. It cycled around. I was last three or four times, I was in the Top 15 three or four times. It just so happened when the rain decided to sock us in, I was 14th. I'm tickled to death with that. Like I said, nobody wants to help the dude with the yellow stripe. These guys have been through it before. I'm going to go through it. That's cool because I'm going to put somebody else through it later.

Moderator: Jimmie Johnson has joined us. You decided to only take gas on that last restart, the last pit stop. Talk about the restart when Waltrip passed you.

Jimmie Johnson: We knew that we were probably going to be racing to halfway or somewhere thereafter. Chad's idea was to keep putting tires on the car, take the penalty early with the track position. When it came down to the end, we could be in a position to do two tires or no tires, depending on what was going on and how much fuel we needed.

Chad called an awesome race. I played into our hands. It worked out. We were in the lead. Then the restart with the 8 starting next to us, the 33. I had a couple options, either jump the start and get ahead of Junior, but I wasn't sure how that was going to work out. My best option was to try to box Michael in so Junior and the 15 couldn't get hooked up. The 33 had a terrible start. Allowed Michael to drop down. When that happened, everything I could do at that point was over and done with.

Happy to fall back in line where we did and was able to hang on from there.

Part II

-nascar-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Michael Waltrip , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Jack Sprague