Indianapolis: Kurt Busch - Friday media visit

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULD SPEAK WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON PRIOR TO INDY, WHERE DO YOU STAND WITH THAT? "I assumed that I would run into him at the (Jeff Gordon) bowling tournament, which we didn't. I think...

KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)

YOU SAID THAT YOU WOULD SPEAK WITH JIMMIE JOHNSON PRIOR TO INDY, WHERE DO YOU STAND WITH THAT? "I assumed that I would run into him at the (Jeff Gordon) bowling tournament, which we didn't. I think that he had a charity function as well. I'll find him in the garage today. I felt like Chicago was definitely a heat of the moment type of situation where it wasn't that big of a deal. To see everybody bombard us after we finished 17th, then I guess it was an issues. So we'll work on it, shake hands and laugh about it. I don't think that it's that big of a deal to where we don't even need to worry about it."

JIMMIE SAID THAT HE SENT YOU A TEXT MESSAGE AND THAT HE WAS SURPRISED THAT HE DIDN'T HEAR FROM YOU. HE ALSO SAID THAT HE FELT THAT YOU RAN INTO HIM IN CHICAGO. WHAT ARE YOUR COMMENTS ON THAT? "I did get a text message and again, that was the night of (the race), and I was at the Chicago Cubs game the next day...tire testing...went to Outer Banks and didn't have any cell service, so I don't know how much that I need to explain other than that I'll find him this morning."


YOU'RE FOURTH IN POINTS COMING INTO THIS WEEKEND; IS THERE SUCH A THING AS A COMFORTABLE POSITION IN THE CHASE STANDING? "Fourth is a cool number, but it's the 200 (points) that we have as a cushion above 12th-place (that counts). So, it feels comfortable. At the same time, we want to make sure that we get through this weekend. Are the tires going to be an issue? Are they not? Once we get this race under our belt, that means that there's even more races for teams to gain points on us. Really, we want to attack these final few races (to the Chase) in a fashion where we can get a win and bring those bonus points with us towards the Chase because we feel like the Chase will start off strong for us running at Loudon and Dover and so on."

WILL THE RUNS YOU GUYS MAKE IN PRACTICE TODAY BE LONG ENOUGH TO GIVE YOU AN IDEA OF WHAT THE TIRES WILL BE LIKE? "It will be interesting because you don't want to be the first guy to make the long runs, so you're going to wait for the track to rubber-up and the tires to develop a pattern and see how it all shakes out. It's really learn-as-you-go at Indy."

ROGER (PENSKE) HAS WON SO MANY RACES HERE IN AN INDY CAR, HOW MUCH DOES THAT PLAY INTO YOUR MINDSET THIS WEEKEND? "It's always fun knowing that Roger is the 'King of Indy' and that we have a three...myself, Sam Hornish Jr., and David Stremme... to drive one of his race cars at Indy and try to bring home a win. It's something that we want to do. It's puzzling to me why it hasn't happen. So we just hope that we have the best car when we show up."

HOW MUCH DOES POISE PLAY A FACTOR IN A DRIVER WINNING A CHAMPIONSHIP? "When things are going good and going easy, it's even easier to stay focused and maintain that high level of poise. It's when those odds-and-ends things jump out at you and how you handle them. With a wheel falling off my car at Homestead, you could have thought that the train would have de-railed at that point. So you have to focus on what's important and what's going to bring you those championship points at the end of the day."

AT WHAT POINT OF YOUR CAREER DID YOU LEARN THAT? "You learn as you go. You can't start out at the top level when you're a rookie and when you're a veteran, there are things to learn as well."

WITH BEING FOURTH IN POINTS, HOW MUCH RISK DO YOU TAKE DURING THE RACE VERSUS PLAYING IT SAFE? "I feel like each race is an opportunity to win and we want to do that for Miller Lite and for Dodge and everyone that puts an effort forth with Penske Racing. The Brickyard is a big one and next week at Pocono is just as big. You want to go out there and win. That's what our job is to do. So, when you have a shot at winning, you want to take advantages of those situations."

DOES IT MEAN MORE TO YOU TO BE RACING AT INDY THIS WEEKEND THAN IF YOU WERE RACING AT POCONO OR TEXAS OR SOMEWHERE ELSE? "It's a nice token. It's a feather in your cap for the weekend knowing that you're at a special race track. When you win here, it's a coveted prize. It seems to go that many more miles than other race victories. It's just prestige that surrounds this event that creates the environment."

WE MAY GET RAIN HERE IN INDY TOMORROW. IS THERE ANY CONCERN ABOUT RACING ON A GREEN RACE TRACK? "There's plenty of practice time. I don't know what Mother Nature has in store for us; you just deal with it when it comes. With the way that Goodyear has done a better job with the tire test this year, we hope that we have everything under control."

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR NASCAR TO HAVE A GOOD RACE HERE AT INDY THIS WEEKEND? "It's always good to have good races. We want our fans to enjoy the racing action no matter where we go. Obviously, last year was a bit of a disappointment. I think that we've done our homework to make sure that it doesn't happen again and we provide a good race."

CAN THIS TRACK LEND ITSELF TO GOOD RACING? "I think that this track is very challenging. It's tough to pass. Pit road is very close quarters each time that you pit because there are usually 43 cars on pit road at the same time when you pit. It's a challenging track and it's a very strategic race that you have to run which sometimes isn't the most appealing, but for the race team, it's the most challenging."

HOW IS IT STRATEGIC TO RACE? "A perfect example this year is with the wave-by rule. You can be a car that's a lap down or on the tail end (of the lead lap) and you choose to stay out, you get that caution (second caution), grab those tires with 30 laps to go and then you stay out and hang on for track position. You can pit here and not lose a lap; this track creates that element. There are strategic things that play in the back of your mind. If you're a top-five car all day, running strong and you have these five to 10 guys that spit out in front of you, now you're running 15th and you just worked your rear end off all day to run 15th. Those are the types of things that come up at Indy."

HOW MUCH DOES MOMENTUM PLAY A FACTOR IN RACING? "It was the word of the day last year. I think that the media used it every week. I was trying to figure out how when you're on the top-side of the race track to get more momentum down the back straightaway translated into what everybody thought was week-to-week things. It's really just a matter of confidence in your race setup. Sometimes week-to-week, it changes dramatically from track-to-track whereas last year, the way that the setups worked out, if you're in one setup on Pocono, you'd bring it right back to Indianapolis and it would run really well for you. This year, we're learning that the tracks are all requiring different things and small things to be changed and it's hard to keep up with, to tackle each weekend."

WHAT MAKES THIS RACE, THIS TRACK SO SPECIAL? "Just the fact that it's Indy and it's been here since the early 1900's. All the greats who have won here have stood on a different plateau after they hoisted up the trophy. You can win here. You can win at different race tracks, but Daytona and Indianapolis are the big marquee events that stand alone on the Cup circuit. Then you have tracks like Charlotte, Darlington that jump out at you. It's just one of those big, marquee events."

WHAT ARE GOING TO BE KEYS HERE FOR SUNDAY? "We need to find the right balance with this new tire and to make sure that we keep our problems to a minimum. Of course out on the track with strategy for pit stops to stay on the right sequence. Sometimes you end up on the wrong sequence and don't even know it."

WILL DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS AFFECT THE RACING AT BRISTOL? "It's a definite challenge to know if you have to pit or if you stay out because tires can make a difference. But at the same time, cars can run side-by-side there very easy. With double-file restarts, you're now going to be restarting with the guys that you're racing against and not have to race those lap-downed cars that won't give you the room. It's hard to know what to expect."

ARE YOU EXPECTING FIREWORKS WITH 10 LAPS TO GO AT BRISTOL? "For sure; it's happened every race this year. Chicago is a good example... Sonoma...a bunch of places where guys were running strong and now you put two lead-lap guys together and one of them ends up wrecked."

-credit: dodge motorsports

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Kurt Busch , David Stremme , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske