KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE UPCOMING DAYTONA 500? "It's time. All of the cars that are in the field are locked in now. This is the group that is going to make the 52nd running of the Daytona 500....
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE UPCOMING DAYTONA 500? "It's time. All of the cars that are in the field are locked in now. This is the group that is going to make the 52nd running of the Daytona 500. For us, we made it through our first race without any issues or damaging any of our cars the other day in the 150. So there's that warm, fuzzy feeling that we have now. Our Miller Lite Dodge is as strong as it showed itself the other day and I feel that we're one of the top contenders for the 500. It feels good to have Steve Addington (crew chief) aboard and going through some of the small steps of communication. During the race the other day when it was time to make a pit stop, time to make a call he had a good game plan. It all worked out perfectly. We ended up getting into the lead afterwards and we were looking good all the way to the end. It produced a great race. Our 150, with everyone on old tires, got bunched up there at the end with four or five laps to go, it was a handful. With everyone sliding around on old tires, it produced a great show and we expect more of that on Sunday. I think the biggest thing that we did is we showed our strength. We just now need to find opportunities out on the track to get people to stay behind us and find those good handling cars to help push us so that we can be up front at the end."
YOU'VE PUSHED A LOT OF PEOPLE TO VICTORY HERE. DO YOU FEEL LIKE IT'S TIME FOR PEOPLE TO RETURN THE FAVOR TO YOU? "You can never feel like it's your turn, but I do have a list of guys who I've pushed and every time that I go and see them out on the grid before the 500 starts, I put my arm around them and remind them. It does come down to having good rapport and good communication with other drivers. But you have to put yourself in that right position in the end. Yesterday, I had an opportunity to push the 9 car and it worked. I got him up front and I was hoping that I was going to be able to follow. I just needed one more guy to follow behind me to get the 14 out of the way and it would have worked out just perfect. You just always hope that you're doing the right thing on the race track to let people know that you're a quality guy that they want to race around and help at the end of the race. You can't win these plate races unless you've got that buddy that wants to stick with you. Having two strong teammates yesterday with (Brad) Keselowski and (Sam) Hornish, we're looking pretty strong right now."
WITH THE CHANGES MADE TO THE CAR, WILL DRAFTING PARTNERS BE AS IMPORTANT HERE SUNDAY AS COMPARED TO YEARS PAST? "It's just a slight difference, nothing big. But with a little bit here and a little bit there, it changes quite a bit. The low groove used to be where all the fast cars could hang out and you would see the guys who didn't have the good handling car ended up on the top side of the race track. Now, with the speeds that we have, everyone seems to be up on the top side of the race track to gather their car up and get that big slingshot move down the straightaways. Good handling cars are still a must, but you can get away with it a little easier with less handling cars."
DO YOU HAVE ANY OPINION WHY THE 150'S WERE RELATIVELY CRASH FREE? "I'm just glad that everyone put their "thinking cap" on. They knew that this was their Daytona 500 car and that they needed to give that inch versus take that inch. Nobody was overly aggressive when it came to making moves."
CAN YOU COMMENT ON FANS PERCEPTION OF YOU? "I've always tried to make everyone's job in the media center easy by giving good answers, but sometimes that will hurt you as well. The other night, the NASCAR officials didn't chuckle like everyone did when I gave that quote that I was making too many laps in the ambulance versus the race track. The track safety guys took it as, 'What is Kurt complaining about? Did we take too long to get him to the infield care center?' Sometimes things get misconstrued when it comes out of my mouth and maybe I haven't connected to the race fans out there as easily as I should. I love racing. I'm a racer at heart. I've come from nothing very humble beginnings. My story is the same as anyone out there sitting in the grandstands except I got a unique opportunity to drive a race car when I was 17 years-old. Back in Las Vegas a guy called me up to go race his Late Model, but years before that I was sitting in the grandstands at Las Vegas Motor Speedway watching races. I was at Phoenix International Raceway watching races. My dad and grandfather went to the Milwaukee Mile year after year watching races. I was just a spectator, but I got a unique opportunity to drive a racecar."
WHAT TYPE OF RACE DO YOU EXPECT ON SUNDAY? "You have to keep in mind that Thursday's races are two races....half the cars. It's half the opportunities for trouble or half the opportunities for things to go wrong. Now you push us back together and things get back to normal where you have 43 real competitive cars and drivers that think that they have a shot at winning. Patience is a virtue. There are going to be times when you have a problem where somebody blows a tire in front of you or somebody checks up and you have to be ready for it. It's going to be a great race where the tires seem to match the restrictor plate size. The downforce on the cars seem to match the setups that people have in the cars. Right now you don't have to have a perfect handling car to win. You need to find the right draft to be in and that's the most exciting type of race. You'll have your single-file moments where things get spread out. When you put (new) tires on these cars, everybody's got a good setup underneath their car that will stick for 10 to 15 laps. The excitement will be the beginning of the runs, the end of the runs and showing patience."
AS A HARD CHARGING DRIVER, WERE YOU LICKING YOUR CHOPS AT NASCAR RELAXING THE RULES ON BUMP DRAFTING? "I thought it was great that NASCAR would start to relax some of these rules because every time that you would try and make a move, you would have to look over your shoulder on what NASCAR would think about this type of call or move and how would they react. Now I know the only person that I have to take this up with is the guy in front of me or the guy beside me if it went wrong. You hope that everything goes smooth. The other day, I had the opportunity to go to the checker flag and if (NASCAR) didn't have the double-yellow line rule, I would have been right on the apron passing the 9 car to try and win my 150. I was confused for a second. You like the fact that (NASCAR) is putting more of it in the driver's hands. It makes you have to think less about consequences. Being able to go out there and race and put it in the drivers hands....when NASCAR started the re-start rule where we're all double-file, it seemed to open it up where it was more positive."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE PENSKE EFFORT HERE AT DAYTONA THIS YEAR? "This is our best shot at victory lane with the three cars. Back in 2007, I had a very fast race car. Me and Tony Stewart wrecked together, but that was probably the best race car I've ever had at Daytona. This year it's about that good. We'll find out on Sunday the full effect of things. I have to keep patience on my mind because I didn't make it to the finish (in 2007). In 2008 when (Ryan) Newman won I was pushing him. I could have gone three-wide just as easily as I did when I went behind him to push him to victory. Roger (Penske) has had great cars (at Daytona) and I'm proud to drive for him. This is one of the strongest years that I've seen him unload here and it's definitely has a good, positive feel all the way around right now."
DID KYLE (BUSCH) COME TO YOU FOR ADVICE ON HIS ENGAGEMENT? WOULD YOU CONSIDER DRIVING ONE OF HIS TRUCKS IN THE NCTS? "Kyle's grown up and he got engaged all by himself. He made the call. I'm not there to give brotherly advice on marriage situations. I could have given advice on where to buy a ring. He had all that taken care of (by himself). He texted me at 11 p.m. last Thursday and he said, "Come on over, I've got something to tell you." I'm like oh boy, "He's either getting married or she's pregnant (laughs), so I'm glad that he's doing it in the right order.
To drive one of his trucks, he's got a great relationship with Toyota. I've got a great relationship with Dodge. I don't know if it could happen. Watching him last night, preparing his trucks to get them on track, he's gone through a lot of headaches and he's put a lot of work in those truck programs. I'm proud of him. I'm honestly proud and if the opportunity came up to drive for him...we all have our sponsors. We all have our reasons why we can't. I'll be his No. 1 cheerleader."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HAVING A NEW CREW CHIEF AND ITS IMPACT ON THE FIRST FEW RACES? "Anytime that you have a new crew member in place, you have to work out a few of the bugs or just the communication. Right now, Steve Addington and I have done all that we can to be together in any of the meetings. Like today, we'll review what we did in the 150 as far as our setup and teammate's setup is concerned. Nothing is good as time together. Yesterday I made a call for no changes during the pit stop and he trusted me and we almost won the race. The car was as good as it was in the first part of the race. Those are the moments where he'll go, "Wow, the driver knows what he's talking about." Then there will be moments when I'll mess up and he'll have to understand those moments. Those are the times that we'll have to talk and find the best success that we can find. That's the best way you hit the ground running. Stay on top of the communications levels."
-source: dodge motorsports