KURT BUSCH --97-- Rubbermaid Taurus (Finished 2nd) "It was a great run for us and the whole team should be proud with the way the car ran. We had a dominant car, but we just didn't have a lucky enough pit strategy at the end. I never would...
KURT BUSCH --97-- Rubbermaid Taurus (Finished 2nd)
"It was a great run for us and the whole team should be proud with the way the car ran. We had a dominant car, but we just didn't have a lucky enough pit strategy at the end. I never would have thought I'd have gotten beaten by gas only, but that's the way it goes sometimes. It's not bittersweet, but it's damn tough to swallow because of the win that we had. But we're second in points and we got as many points as the leader did today. And, for poor Jack, I wish he could have been here to see this. He doesn't need to be sitting in a bed right now and I wish he can come back to the track as soon as he can. Hopefully, it will be up at the Michigan spring race. I'm just throwing that out there because that's his home and that's where he needs to come back. It would be great to have him at the track, but we're driving forward. Everybody at Roush knows their job. Everybody seems to have come together closer and we're not relying on Jack's opinions as heavily because we know we need to do our job without him. We just need him to relax. We need him to recover as best he can because it wasn't his time to go yet. There have been many people that have helped me out in my career, but Jack Roush is surely the one that has given me the opportunity to do what it is that I love to do and that's race race cars on Sunday."
WAS THIS GOOD MEDICINE FOR HIM TODAY?
"It couldn't hurt really. He might be upset that we didn't take the right pit strategy at the end, or that we didn't win, or that we're second in points. I'm sure that he's got a big smile, he's feeling smug, and we helped him heal a little bit because he wasn't thinking about his pain for a couple hours."
WHAT ABOUT THE HAT?
"All the crew members are in support of Jack. This is what it's all about. Jack is our leader. We'll line up right behind him and walk off the same bridge if he goes that way. He's given everybody such a wonderful opportunity to express themselves to do their job and he expects the best out of everybody. We expect Jack to come back to the track soon."
WHAT WAS IT LIKE BEING 12 SECONDS AHEAD OF THE FIELD?
"It was a very solidifying run for us. The Rubbermaid car was just rolling all by itself. We balanced the springs and the bars and the shocks and all the ideas that Jimmy threw off of me and I threw off of Jimmy. I used some information from the Truck Series days when we dominated the race here in 2000 and when I raced here in a Winston West car with a group of individuals that bent over backwards to give me an opportunity to race cars. It's endless the amount of people that have come forth and helped me in my career. For me to go out there and race to give back is all I can do and to win today would have been a gift, but, yet, we finished second and it was still a gift for all the people that have worked for me."
WAS AERO PUSH A FACTOR IN BEING ABLE TO GET BY RICKY AND IF YOU COULD HAVE DONE IT EARLIER COULD YOU HAVE PASSED JIMMIE?
"The dreaded aero push didn't necessarily affect our car that greatly today. Whether or not we had the bars and the springs and the shocks -- the aero package might have been the biggest key to help us make that car turn. We were one of the only ones that would stay on the bottom all day. We could run up high.
"We could run behind people and it seemed like track position, of course, is vital, but for us it didn't seem to affect our car as greatly as it affected others and that's what we were shooting for. We knew the sun was gonna come out on Sunday and we knew what we did in the Truck Series race to win here and I believe in my heart that I knew what Kenseth did to win at Texas was gonna work today and it was pretty close as far as the finishing positions and as far as the setup." DID YOU THINK ABOUT NO TIRES ON THE LAST STOP?
"We had 20 laps to go, which meant there would be a few more cautions and it ended up 15 to go. We were on our left sides for a while. With our car it didn't seem to matter. If you put four or two on it, it was still gonna go decent. We had never taken gas only. Jimmy wanted four and that was something we discussed on the radio. I said we needed two, but we never did think of the factor of taking fuel only. I hate it that we lost the race like that. Those are the only words I can put together."
WITH THAT BIG LEAD DID YOU THINK YOU HAD THE RACE IN THE BAG?
"You never think you've got it in the bag in Winston Cup racing. Anything can happen at anytime and it seems like at these races this year, we have not had a long green-flag run. There is no such thing as fuel mileage anymore. Everybody wrecks one another towards the end to get points and get money and it just seems like it all gets scrambled around and you see a whole new set of cars come forth on who is taking two and who is taking four. It's tough to race like that, but you have to stay on top of it and you have to understand when it's time to do different things. Jimmy Fennig has really brought that forth for us to have consistent finishes. Our worst finish so far this year is Texas with two flat tires and, obviously, it's hard to overcome that, but it may have been something that I put in the car for setup. It's a total team effort for us. We live as a team and we die as a team and we're gonna continue to run up front."
CAN YOU BE TOO AGGRESSIVE IN THIS SERIES FROM A DRIVER'S STANDPOINT?
"There's a point to be too aggressive. Obviously, we all need to have a race car at the end of the day to finish the race and you need to have your fenders on it so you don't get the dreaded aero push. But, yet, you need to position yourself up front so you can run in the clean air and have track position. It's a fine line and it's something that I've tried to balance out. Coming from the Truck Series, it's just wide-open, throttle down and you go. People from the Busch Series, they're the same way but yet they've raced a few more times and you understand things. It's just a big learning curve that I've been going through the past two seasons on what to do, what not to do, who to follow, who to respect and who just to pass and blow their doors off."
ARE YOU RUNNING THE MOST AGGRESSIVE SETUP ON THE ROUSH TEAM?
"It's interesting to see that they won with an aggressive setup because we probably had the least aggressive setup for the race today."
ON THE ROUSH TEAM?
"On the Roush team. It's a fine balance. You throw all the things on paper and you look at it and go, 'Wow, this look goods, this looks bad, this driver drives like this, this guy does that.' Chad Knaus is a very smart individual when it comes to speedway racing and I believe that had a little bit to do with it today. They were getting down the straightaways pretty good. You never know what balance is right, but I wanted to lead that first lap because I knew our car was gonna be way too loose for the first run and then the track would come to us. That was my gameplan."
WHAT ABOUT THAT TRUCK RACE YOU MENTIONED?
"The Truck race we didn't lead all the laps, but we led the most important ones. We led one lap at the beginning, just like we did today, and we were gonna lead the last few laps so we could collect the victory. But when you bring something from a vehicle, I've raced many different vehicles, and you try to take the best thing you can from it. Whether it's a right-rear spring that you would run at Fontana or it's a set of shocks you'd run to save your tires on a sunny day. It's mindboggling and it's confusing sometimes to keep up with what's right and what's wrong, but from the Truck Series days Matt Chambers taught me a lot about race cars and I've thrown little tidbits here or there into a pile and soon that pile looks as big as that podium to go and win races.
"You have to gather as much information as you can and when something is proved wrong, you throw it away and you don't ever look back at it. If it's not working immediately, you don't want to wait for it to come in. There are many things that you take and there's no one specific thing. You just continue to gather information. You meet people along the way and to win races is the ultimate goal at Roush Racing."
IF YOU DIDN'T HAVE TO RACE RICKY SO HARD AND THE TIRES WOULD HAVE COME IN, COULD YOU HAVE CAUGHT JIMMIE?
"Winston Cup is so competitive. I don't know what the lap times were -- 40.5's -- everybody can run them and everybody can do them. We had track position at Bristol. Everybody is running 16-flats like they're going out of style -- it's like clock work. It's very difficult to pick up ground on a race car with 30 laps to go for the win. We got caught by taking two tires. You never would have thought you would have lost the race by taking two, but, for us, we were a little bit tight right there at the end with our change of two tires, but I tried to compensate by airing up for the finish there. I found something in the race track right there. I just dug as far as I could down and we gained all of our time in turn one. That's what got us by Ricky. I wish I would have found it four laps earlier. We might have been able to mess with the 48."
HOW DID YOU FEEL IN THE CLOSING LAPS?
"I like the pressure to be on me. I love it when everything is weighted on my shoulder so I can go and carry the team and go for that win. It would have been nice to go cruise, start first and end up first, but we started fourth or fifth with the guys that even stayed out -- which I knew would happen. You knew it was gonna happen, but you never expected to get beat by fuel only. It's a tough situation. It's tough to swallow, but we're gonna learn from it and maybe it'll work next week at Richmond."