All eight Ford NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers participated in media day at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday. KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Sharpie/Irwin Taurus "Winning races gets you attention whether it's positive or negative.
All eight Ford NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers participated in media day at Daytona International Speedway on Thursday.
KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Sharpie/Irwin Taurus
"Winning races gets you attention whether it's positive or negative. Embracing it in positive ways helps obviously. The fans come from all different directions and that's what makes our sport - the fans. Being perceived by them one way versus another is something that holds value to you. You have your job as a professional and have to overcome any type of obstacles in your way to achieve the results that you're expected to."
WHAT'S IT LIKE TO BE KNOWN AS A YOUNG GUN? DO YOU RESENT THAT AT ALL? "No, not at all. I think they perceive us a group that wants to go out and charge hard and to win races. We've all been given opportunities at a young age to drive. Obviously, we're older than 16 but it's been fun to be at this level and to be young and help this sport grow and blossom and to take it to another level."
WHY ARE SO MANY YOUNG DRIVERS GETTING CHANCES AT THIS LEVEL? "There are many different equations and answers and a lot of different views on how things are perceived. I believe one of the key elements is the tenacity that a young driver brings. It can help propel a sponsor or it can help propel a car owner into making dollars. It can work both ways. The driver makes dollars as well, but I think when you're able to come in as a young driver, car owners give you an opportunity because the sponsors want to have a long-term deal. If you find a driver that's 40 years old, you don't know if he's gonna be around for five more years or 10 more years. Some sponsors want to come in for that longevity and when you find a young established driver, then they want to stick with him and build a marketing campaign around them."
DO YOU LIKE BEING ABLE TO SHOW THE KIND OF PERSON YOU ARE AWAY FROM THE CAR? "There are two personalities that a driver has to have and the two can go together or the two can stay separate. This is to kick off the season and this is to get into the feel of Daytona. This is what it's about for us. There is a lot of media and a lot we have to do for our sponsors and then we get to jump in the car and practice. We go from race mode to media mode and back to race mode. That's what Daytona is about and that's the challenge of understanding the complexity of this race."
YOUR BROTHER, KYLE, SAYS YOU ARE MISUNDERSTOOD. WHAT DOES HE MEAN BY THAT? "I believe it's a lot of understanding the difference between a race car driver and then a personality. There are differences between the two and I'm an easy-going guy that likes to have fun and smile and work hard. I make mistakes. I've made mistakes in the past and maybe I don't fess up to them as quick as I should, but there has been a lot of things that have been misconceived but that's just part of the challenge of Winston Cup and now NEXTEL Cup of understanding where the sport needs to go, where a driver needs to be and when you need to race hard and when you need to race smooth."
ARE YOU GOING TO BE THE SAME OLD KURT BUSCH? "There are a lot of things you have to change with the new point structure and with the value of last season. I'd like to see things more like 2002 when things were smooth and when things went our way."
HAS ANYBODY TALKED TO YOU ABOUT CHANGING THE WAY YOU ARE OR ABOUT CONTROLLING YOU EMOTIONS? "There are things you have to do on the track that you change and there are things you have to do off the track. It's still a matter of getting that car into Victory Lane. Whether it's a Sharpie car one weekend or an Irwin car the next, we're still gonna try to do things the same but yet change it all around."
DO YOU FEEL SOME OF THE VETERAN DRIVERS WENT THROUGH THE SAME THINGS YOU HAVE? "Oh yeah. There are so many comparisons to drivers from the seventies to the eighties to the nineties to today and it's all just a revolution. It's not a changing of the guard, it's just that you've got guys that are in that age bracket and you've got the guys that are in the other age bracket. All of us are out there to compete. We've got a great fraternity of drivers that all blend with one another. They have that camaraderie, but yet they all want to beat one another on the same given day."
DO YOU THINK THE GRIND OF THE SEASON BENEFITS A YOUNGER DRIVER OR DOES THAT EXPERIENCE OF A VETERAN BECOME MORE VALUABLE? "That's an interesting question because it can be viewed in different ways. Whether you're the veteran of heart and you know all the tracks and know what types of setups each track needs, or you're the young guy that's a bit unfamiliar with circumstances and not knowing what to expect, it could fall into your hands. So there are many ways that a veteran driver can out-do a young driver and there are other ways a young driver can out-excel a veteran driver."