KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Rubbermaid Taurus (Finished 1st) WHERE DID YOU COME FROM? "I don't know if that was necessarily a secret today. I think we ran up front most of the day and that was a good approach and a good objective that Jimmy Fennig had...
KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Rubbermaid Taurus (Finished 1st)
WHERE DID YOU COME FROM?
"I don't know if that was necessarily a secret today. I think we ran up front most of the day and that was a good approach and a good objective that Jimmy Fennig had in mind. It was an overall team effort. This car was freshly re-built after Las Vegas. We did it after Atlanta and did it after Texas. We had such, I don't know, poor efforts I guess what we could call it. I thought we had great cars w.hen we showed up and we just never produced results at Atlanta, Las Vegas and Texas. Those are three tracks that I group together. Therefore, we built this car special for this race track, something a little different and something, I think, that gets us back to where we were somewhat last year because last year our cars were so good. You would say, 'Why did you veer away from what you had last year?' And I think it's because of the templates that NASCAR has given us. The Fords didn't get any kind of automotive change - no nose, no tail - and it really changed the way we hung the bodies on the race car. I'm just real proud that we can sit down and look at our poor efforts and produce such a great result. It's just a total team effort - to have that kind of car, to have that kind of motor and just produce results like that on pit road to maintain track position. Right at the end we aired up the tires a little different. We added a little extra air in all four of them and that gave us an opportunity to run hard right away. Then with those consistent yellows, I think there was three of them, that gave our tires a heat cycle on them and then another and then another. So we had three heat cycles on our tires with higher air pressure. We put it to the mat and left them. I mean, that car felt perfect at the end of the race."
JACK SAID YOU CAN BE AS GOOD AS ANY DRIVER THAT'S BEEN IN THIS SERIES. WHAT IS YOUR REACTION?
"I'd better listen (laughing). There are a lot of good times ahead of us and I just can't wait to continue moving forward and producing results like that. And then, of course, going through a bit more hardship to understand what it takes to build better cars and to have a better idea of race track ethics. This is just a perfect overall day. We didn't lead a lot of laps. We led when we needed to. We got our five points earlier in the race - to get that five-point bonus for the end of the year look - and then to get this win from last year. I thought it was robbed from us. We led the most laps last year, but that's not a given to let you win a race. You've got to be able to perform at the end and that's what we did today."
RUSTY SAID HE DIDN'T KNOW WHERE YOU CAME FROM. WHAT HAPPENED WHEN YOU CAUGHT HIM?
"There were so many restarts at the end. I know the competitors that were running up front. The 18 looked the strongest. The 42 had a great day and then the 2 car picked up strength at the end as I did. From there it was the four of us. I believe the way everything transpired was the fact that there is a draft here. This is a two-mile race track. When cars get side-by-side, you can draft up and gain a momentum run on those two guys that are side-by-side. I thought about three-wide for an instant, but I figured we'd all wreck trying to come off turn four and I was way back in turn two. I was looking that far ahead. You have to prepare for things. You have to maneuver around people and watch when they dive into the corner too hard and when they're gonna come up and have a car on their outside. So I lifted and got behind Rusty going into turn three. I noticed that he drove off in there way deeper than I thought he should. He pushed up coming out of four and I just got my nose alongside his rear spoiler. That provided the draft for my car and then I peeled off towards the inside lane. I went down into turn one and I stood on it coming out of two knowing that I could clear the wall and hold it on the floor. We pulled away from there, so it was just having a perfect car at the end of the day. We struggled most of the day with a little tight condition, but I think it was just having it perfect at the end with those heat cycles on the tires."
HOW DID YOU FEEL DOWN THE STRETCH?
"I thought I did everything real smooth. There was no time that I felt out of control or pressuring somebody into a situation they didn't want to be in. I just took advantage of when there were cars side-by-side and that enabled my car to pull up and get a pass made. There was really no sweat whatsoever."
JACK ROUSH , Car Owner - No. 97 Rubbermaid Taurus
O YOU FEEL THIS MIGHT BREAK UP THE PARITY THAT HAS HAPPENED SO FAR THIS SEASON?
"No (laughing). NASCAR has got the thing so close right now that I don't think Jimmy and Kurt or anybody else has got a chance to breakaway. The thing that should be noticed, though, is that late in the race the Dodges really had everybody covered. I don't know, there were five Dodges in the top seven or something. It looked like it was gonna be a Dodge show all the way. We're racing a 1997 Taurus against 2003 Dodges, Chevrolets and Pontiacs. I'm not bitter about that, but I look forward to getting a new car next year. I think we've got better race teams and we've got a better program than we are gonna be able to show this year based on the car we've got, but I couldn't be more thrilled to be here with Jimmy and Kurt and Rubbermaid and all the guys. I look forward to going back with one of my other teams the next time I have a chance."
WHAT IF THE TITLE RACE COMES DOWN TO MATT AND KURT?
"When push comes to shove, I don't think they like one another very much (meaning Busch and Biffle). Where did you guys get into it?"
"We wrecked each other at Martinsville."
"That's right, you struggled pretty good at Martinsville. In spite of the fact that Kurt got off into Greg's truck and had this great year based on the work that had been done before Kurt arrived in the truck thing, Kurt and Greg will race as hard as they can without regard to history or, I think, anything that could happen subsequent.
"They'll go out and take care of their sponsors and take care of their fans and support their teams and do what I want them to do when it comes time. I don't want them to necessarily wreck one another, but that goes for anybody else in the field as well."
I WAS TALKING ABOUT KURT AND MATT.
"Matt will race hard and Kurt will race hard and there are no rules, except it's understood that they should not unnecessarily take one another out. Racing for the win is fair game. Whatever happens happens. As far as championships are concerned, we're certainly not thinking championships. My focus, based on the way I've been treated over the years by NASCAR, is to present the best cars that I can at every single event for every sponsor. Whatever happens at the end of the year will happen, but I'm thrilled with winning this race and I hope to go win the next one."
WERE YOU WORRIED ABOUT KURT RUNNING THE MIDGET RACE LAST NIGHT?
"I'm gonna tell you, I got up this morning and I turned on the television. The television in my room didn't work good and I heard something about a race car going through a fence and there were some fatalities. I remembered the conversation that Kurt and I had before he went - going upside down in one of those little cars is a bad thing and we sure didn't want to be part of that. But Kurt had a great event. He supported the Focus and supported Dan Davis and the Ford Motor Company efforts. He signed a lot of autographs and everybody was happy. Happily, the tragedy that happened did not involve us, but I did have a lump in my throat when I heard about it this morning."
WAS THERE A TURNING POINT FOR YOU IN THE RACE?
"No real one sits out in my mind. You know there are gonna be cautions at the end of these Winston Cup races nowadays with lapped cars trying to jockey for position. Junior got back on the lead lap there at the end, so he probably had a decent finish for the day. You've got objectives on every side of it, whether it's lead-lap cars or a team that hasn't won a race in a while, whether it's guys that are rolling pretty smooth. There was no real caution that gave us the advantage to win today. I think that we were just poised to get to Victory Lane today just by keeping our nose clean and keeping our momentum built all the way around the race track even while we were passing cars."
WHAT SOLD YOU ON KURT BUSCH?
"My decision to tell my then-sponsor, John Deere, when they told me they wanted our program changed that I would spend my money on Kurt Busch - bringing him to a Winston Cup car after he had one year in a truck is unprecedented. I think that speaks volumes. Kurt and his father and his brother coming behind him, and his mother, have had a great family relationship of preparing the boys for motorsports futures and racing careers, and I happened to be there at the right time and was able to have that brought to my attention. I'm happy to go forward with it. The thing that gave me the confidence to recommend to Kurt and I went to him and asked him, 'What do you think.' Kurt said to me, 'What do you think?' And I said, 'I think as quickly as you've adapted to the new tracks and the new vehicles which he had never seen before - he had never raced anything that was as long as the truck races or as heavy as the truck races or that had that much power. He adapted to them quicker than I have ever seen and I've been watching for a long time."
FROM A SPONSOR STANDPOINT, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR YOU TO HAVE TWO RACES AT CALIFORNIA?
"From a team sponsor standpoint, I think it's real important. I haven't had specific conversations with our sponsors about that. Geoff Smith and his department of marketeers focus on those things, but, from a racer's point of view, I'd very much like to come to California a second time next year. I look forward to going to Texas a second time, going to Las Vegas a second time. There are a number of venues that we need to attend more than once. I'm not speaking out against anything that's on the NASCAR schedule, but if I had my way, we'd start racing the first weekend of February. That would be a counting race and we would race throughout the year to get where we need to go. Which of the old venues wind up having priority and preference over others based on history, I don't go back far enough to have an impression or to have any suggestion on that. I'll race whatever is on the schedule, but I would like to come to California twice, I'd like to come to Texas twice, and I look forward to going to Las Vegas twice."
HOW IS THE TRACK SURFACE AND GROOVES NOW?
"It's very similar to a golf course, in a way. Tracks have to mature and the more time that the tracks see to race cars and to different types of race cars, the better it is for them. We've got two new race tracks on the schedule recently in Chicago and Kansas and they're beginning to develop a groove. The more races run there, the better they'll be. It's not that it's my favorite race track because I'm from there, but Las Vegas was built in 1996 and it sat there for about 10 months before a car ever hit it. It settled and then they began the Richard Petty Driving School. They had truck races. They had Busch races. They had IRL races. They had so many races on the track and then when Cup first showed up, there was five-wide racing. That's what prompted the people at ISC to build Kansas and Chicago similar to the Vegas configuration. As tracks see more and more time, like this place here, it just develops into a better and better race. This place here is copy of Michigan and it will race like that, and it did today. It had three or four grooves in the corners and then, of course, cars single-file themselves down the straightaway for the draft. It's the vision that Roger (Penske) had with this place and it's the vision ISC has with their two new tracks. I guess we're re-configuring Miami - a place that I thoroughly enjoy having flat, but I guess we're gonna put banking to that. It's gonna have to go through some winters and some rain down there to help mature the race track."