Daytona II: Kurt Busch - Thursday media visit

Kurt Busch Open Interview WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON COMING BACK TO DAYTONA? "It's great to be back in Daytona. It's one of the toughest tracks on the circuit and one of the most challenging tracks that we race on. I haven't quite...

Kurt Busch Open Interview

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON COMING BACK TO DAYTONA? "It's great to be back in Daytona. It's one of the toughest tracks on the circuit and one of the most challenging tracks that we race on. I haven't quite tasted restrictor plate success yet, hopefully this weekend we can move up one spot. It's amazing that I've been on the circuit 10 years now and I haven't gotten one of those restrictor-plate wins. I had a chance to win in an IROC car back at Talladega a few years ago. I've finished second here in a Truck Series race. I've finished second in the Daytona 500 three times. I don't know if I've finished second in the Coke Zero 400 yet, but I've had good runs here at Daytona in the past. We just haven't sealed the deal. One of the most memorable moments for me was when I pushed my teammate to a win in the 2008 Daytona 500. I felt like Roger Penske was on my shoulder telling me to draft with (Ryan) Newman instead of going for the win. It was a great team day for Penske Racing. There have been plenty of opportunities to win. Overall, I feel like I've done well on restrictor-plate race tracks and we hope to keep that going again this weekend."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT QUALIFYING HERE AT DAYTONA? "Qualifying isn't as important here as it is at some race tracks. With the impound procedure, you can't not look at qualifying. You do what you can to gain the speed, but ultimately you're focused on race practice and getting your car as fast and as comfortable as you can in race trim because 99 percent of the laps that you'll do here this weekend will be in race mode instead of qualifying. If you qualify poorly, yeah, you're stuck in the back and you can have issues happen; things pop up easy. My teammates struggled at the Daytona 500 in qualifying. One got a flat tire early in the race and ran into the other one. You never know what can happen at the beginning (of the race). You can even be in the front and have something go wrong. It's an unnecessary evil that we have to do; you just don't put too much attention on it."

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON DALE JR. RUNNING THE NO. 3 WRANGLER CAR TOMORROW NIGHT IN THE NATIONWIDE RACE? "It's a very, very iconic car. To see the Wrangler 3 paint scheme with the yellow and blue. When you take a look at it, it pops you right in the face, really cool to see it out on the track again. To have an Earnhardt driving it, sometimes in this sport if you find a unique way to resemble the past, it really makes you smile. It makes you look at it and go 'that's cool.' That program deserves to do that. Wrangler is still associated with Dale Jr., is still associated on a personal services deal ... it makes sense for those guys to do that."

WHEN YOU HAVEN'T WON HERE AND YOU'VE BEEN SO CLOSE, DO YOU HAVE TO TALK YOURSELF OUT OF DOING SOMETHING SPECTACULAR? "The approach that I've taken over the years is more of a defensive approach as far as gathering a good finish. Whether somebody jumps out of line and I try to fill that hole and stay with the lead draft, that's more of what I've done in the past and it's produced comfortable results. The times that I've jumped out of line and gone for the win, I end up finishing 18th or 20th or even like at Talladega when I was running sixth with a lap and a half to go, I saw my teammate behind me on the outside lane, I jump out in-front of him, boom, I got hit so hard that I couldn't hold on to the wheel and wrecked the car and finished 35th.

"There's moments when I sit there and say just get a nice steady finish and continue to run the same race that I've run over the years. Maybe this time around, things will change; guys will slip up, the seas will part and I'll have the shot of driving the Miller Lite Dodge into victory lane. Then there are times when I say that I'm going to be offensive today and you end up with the same result, a third or fourth or a wreck towards the end. I'm just hoping that we do our homework right and get the car handling well. Ultimately, you have to put yourself in a position to win and you can't do that with a slow car or a poor pits stop sequence. When we were here at Daytona in February, we were running third with five laps to go and we were in a position to put tires on the car, We thought that was smart to do, and when we pitted, nobody else pitted. So we ended up with poor track position with five laps to go. That's what hurt our chances."

DOES JIMMIE JOHNSON RACE YOU DIFFERENTLY AFTER THE NUDGE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE? "There have been positive remarks made by all the fans and call-ins that I've done this week. I think everybody appreciates what I did other than our current four-time champion. He's been so fast the last four or five years that nobody has had a chance to bump him or move him out of the way because he's had such a quick race car. He hasn't been use to those situations. I grew up on the short tracks, racing hard. Racing those late model races gauging, ripping and tearing trying to get good finishes. That's not necessarily my style, but I saw an opportunity to go for a win; to try and get those 10 bonus points and carry those with us to the Chase. The point that I proved is that you don't have to flat out wreck out to gain a position. The old bump and run was an option and I used it and he only lost one spot. I've moved Matt Kenseth out of the way to win at Bristol; he only lost one spot. I moved Jimmy Spencer out of the way to win; he only lost one spot. When I'm moving guys, I'm definitely not intentionally trying to wreck them, I'm just trying to race them hard, race them clean. If somebody comes and bumps me and I lose one spot, that's a perfect exchange. I'm more than willing to race somebody like that all the time. Opportunities like that don't pop up every week. I thought it was good short-track racing and if Jimmie doesn't feel that way, then he'll figure it out."

ISN'T IT NICE TO KNOW THAT YOU CAN GET UNDER JIMMIE'S SKIN LIKE YOU DID? It's just part of racing. How people react is another sense of it. Did he over react? Maybe a little bit. To me, if I was leading the race, got moved out of the way, I would have all the intentions of moving that guy the same way and getting back up there to win. It could be a whole different conversation if I moved him and had enough speed to win the race because he'd definitely be flipping out."

IS THERE A GREATER DESIRE BY YOU TO WIN THIS RACE BEFORE THE REPAVE? "What's different is when we come here in February, the old balance of speed versus handling is going to be gone. This last race on the old surface won't be remembered for the last race on the old surface, it will just be the 2010 Coke 400. To me, when we come back here in February, it's going to be a different feel. It's going to be like Talladega where it's just raw speed and the whole complexion is going to change when we come here in February. This is fun. It will be refreshing to think the same way about how slick the track's going to be. Are we going to have issues with the track coming up? It's going to be one of those rough and tough races where you have to slip slide it the best. When we come back here in February it's going to be about raw speed and the Daytona feel will change."

HAS THE FOUR-TIME CHAMPION SEEMED MORE HUMAN THIS YEAR? "I read in the paper that he went through a 10-race winless streak. I was like, come on (laughter). Those guys are still very strong. They're still the lead candidate for running through the Chase and being the rabbit we're all chasing down. For us, we feel like we're one of those...I think there are six guys that have separated themselves on who's in and who's going to run strong in the Chase. But there are always surprises that come up. They just have really hit it on the head the last couple of weeks. I had a great opportunity in Sonoma to win and with Ambrose stalling the car, they took advantage of it. Then with Jeff Burton making the wrong pit call at New Hampshire, who's there to take advantage of it...the 48. That was my comments back at Bristol; anybody but the 48. When somebody has a problem, boom, they're there to win. They're always putting themselves in position to win."

-source: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Jimmy Spencer , Kurt Busch
Teams Team Penske