KURT BUSCH-97-Rubbermaid Taurus (qualified 2nd) "It was a good lap. We prepared for it, we went for it, we just came up a bit shy. To end up second-quick, it's a good effort for us, we'll have a great pit selection, as far as picking a pit box,...
KURT BUSCH-97-Rubbermaid Taurus (qualified 2nd)
"It was a good lap. We prepared for it, we went for it, we just came up a bit shy. To end up second-quick, it's a good effort for us, we'll have a great pit selection, as far as picking a pit box, so we don't get caught up in any wrecks on pit road, and then we can work on it from there. You've got to start the race before you can finish the race, and with qualifying, a lot of emphasis has been put on it this weekend because track position is so important here at Chicago, being as it's tough to pass on the race track. We'll see if the groove develops tomorrow, how our race strategy will play out, and we'll see exactly what we'll do as far as the spring combination in the race car. But for today's effort, just came up a bit shy. I was disappointed, as a matter of fact, I thought we could get the pole for the Rubbermaid Ford for the first time this year, but we're second quick and that's the third time that we've been second quick this year. We've got 17 more shots at it, I'm sure we'll get one or two more."
ON THE GROOVE OF THE RACE TRACK.
"It's very tough to determine when you first show up where it's going to be. Obviously, with the race track going through one winter stage so far, the asphalt's changed a little bit of color, and we can start to see now that the groove is developing with Busch practice going on. When they drop the green flag tomorrow, we'll see how stable that second groove is, with the cars in the outside lane, how far back they get shuffled, or if they're able to maintain their positions. With the IROC race, we'll see a little bit of side-by-side racing because of the drag that's been built into those race cars. So, it'll be a good combination to look at both the Busch series and IROC series, and that'll give us a good taste of what it's going to project on Sunday. But it takes years for a groove to develop, it takes winters, it takes tires on the race track, and it takes series' to run here. It takes the Craftsman trucks, it takes the Busch Series, it takes IRL, it takes CART, it takes any type of racing it can take to groom in a race track."
ON THE YOUNG DRIVERS NO LONGER FEELING LIKE ROOKIES.
"I'm getting plagued with somewhat of a rookie title this year. This is my second year in Winston Cup racing, so I'm not on the same strategy as Newman and Johnson are. But it's a matter of the new faces, I guess, around in the pit area, and understanding where they're at in their programs. And, a lot of teams come with competitive equipment, a lot of owners want to win right away, and of course us young drivers, the only thing we know how to do is go to the front and try to win these races. And so far Newman's been very successful and qualifying and Johnson's been very successful at racing, and I think we've balanced it with both. We've been competitive on qualifying and race days, and so far we're ninth in points. So, things have shaped up for us to really capitalize on the second half of the year because we've been successful in the first part of the year."
DOES THE YOUNG DRIVERS' OPEN MINDS ON QUALIFYING SETUPS AND ALL MAYBE SHOW THROUGH MORE ON A RACE TRACK LIKE THIS WHERE NOBODY REALLY HAS A GOOD, SOLID BOOK ON THE TRACK?
"I think every race-car driver knows that you have to come to a new race track with an open mind and open ideas on what to apply to the race track. And it's evident with Bill Elliott being successful, and Newman being successful and with us, that the age doesn't really have anything to do with it, it has to do where your program is as far as aerodynamics and where your chassis dynamics, and knowing what to apply to specific race tracks. I can tell you that Chicago is very comparable to a Fontana and to an Atlanta, and we saw Bill Elliott sit on the pole at one of those races and we saw Newman sit on the pole at the other, and we were at the top-five at all three race tracks. So, it's a matter of applying your setups to the similar race tracks, and being able to get a similar result at those race tracks. So you'll see guys do well at certain race tracks, and this is that core of race tracks, like Atlanta, Chicago, a Las Vegas, a Fontana, Michigan even, you'll see the same group of drivers run towards the front for a while because their setups are just hitting the marks."
WITH SUCH A LONG SCHEDULE, HOW BIG A RELIEF IS IT TO MOVE ON THE NEXT WEEKEND?
"Daytona's a place where everybody looks to get a fresh start. I looked to just get through Daytona, get done with it and start the next race, which is Rockingham and which is Chicago. And that's where the second half begins for us. We prepared for this, and we're ready to shoot for it in the second half of the year. It's tough to go through a weekend like what we did last weekend, when you can't control certain circumstances and get calls reversed on the race track because there's never going to be a call that's reversed. So, you got to roll with the punches. If you got something wrong with your car in tech before you can get out on the race track, they're going to make you sand it down, and that's what we did. We sanded it down last weekend and we're going to move on to this."