KURT BUSCH --97-- Sharpie/Rubbermaid Taurus -- YOU SEEM PRETTY HAPPY. "Very happy with everything and the way the team has come together with Ben Leslie as the new crew chief and just all the testing that we've done. To come here with a brand...
KURT BUSCH --97-- Sharpie/Rubbermaid Taurus --
YOU SEEM PRETTY HAPPY.
"Very happy with everything and the way the team has come together with Ben Leslie as the new crew chief and just all the testing that we've done. To come here with a brand new race car and never tested it before and never even saw this place until Friday morning when I went to go do my first qualifying run. It was just a great weekend that Jack put together with horsepower. The aero package -- just a wonderful weekend. I'm glad Sharpie/Rubbermaid is on board and we can showcase somebody out there."
YOU HAD SOME TEAMMATES WITH YOU, WERE YOU HOPING TO PARLAY THAT?
"For sure. I had a plan brewed up and the 55 and 33 spoiled it coming on the outside. They beat the left side doors off getting there and that's what they've got to do. I had a plan, it just didn't unfold correctly. I was just trying to push Tony around and stay in line and get away from the rest of the pack. That's what a rookie needs to do."
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner --97-- Sharpie/Rubbermaid Taurus --
WHAT ABOUT KURT'S FINISH?
"Benny Parsons is out probably out there somewhere watching. We talked about what we might do and we both agreed that Kurt coming in directly from one year into the Truck Series into the Winston Cup Series was probably the craziest thing we could do this year, but we felt the need for speed. Well, there's Kurt. He's incredibly mature. They asked him how he was doing about 100 laps riding around there in all those cars and he said he was riding around with the top down. He was just chillin' out."
BEN LESLIE, Crew Chief --97-- Sharpie/Rubbermaid Taurus --
WHAT WERE YOU TELLING KURT ON THE RADIO?
"Basically, I didn't get a chance to say much. Having 42 cars on the lead lap and everybody coming to the stripe with a chance to win, the spotter is basically doing most of the talking, so I just tried to make sure we stayed calm and cool and work towards the front."
WHAT WAS YOUR PLAN?
"If I told you my plan, then it really wouldn't be a secret anymore. I had two Pontiacs surrounding me and a couple of Fords fourth and fifth that were my teammates. I didn't expect the 55 and the 33 to come up. If we would have stayed single file and had five cars straight in line, there was something I was thinking about. I had no idea if it would work. I saw the 3 car do it. I saw the 8 car do it. Tony did it in the Bud Shootout this year. Really, it's just a crap shoot. I was lucky the inside lane went when I got there and that's how I was in the top five."
HOW MANY NEAR MISSES TODAY?
"It was probably about lap 130 or so that there were about three or four in a row where I bumped the 17 by accident. There was another car that ran into me. The 71 clobbered my door. There were probably about three or four that we all escaped, but I was able to hold it on the floor during all of those and that's what brought me to the front."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT GETTING THROUGH THIS RACE WITH NO CAUTIONS?
"Really, it just felt like 188 laps just went faster than a quarter could go in Las Vegas. It just went quick. We came in, we pitted, went back out and fell in line and the whole pack would come together again. It feels great to have a safe race like that. Everybody worked together. Mike Helton lectured us fairly stiffly in the driver's meeting this morning about what we needed to do. Everybody knew what we needed to do and it was a great effort by all the race car drivers out there today to have no cautions."
WHAT ABOUT YOUR DESIRE TO WIN?
"It never fades away. My desire is to win all the races and to compete as best as I can. To do that you have to think smart at this level. You can't just put it on the floor and go. I had a plan and the 55 and 33 just came up, like I said, and spoiled most of that. I had that desire with 15 to 12 to go, but that's too soon. I had a couple of runs where I could have gone, but that's too soon. The whole pack would have bunched up and it would have been ugly with about five to go."
WHAT ABOUT THE PERFORMANCE OF THE ROOKIES?
"The Raybestos rookie class performed like they needed to. My team, the Roush team, has got great equipment. Harvick's got a great car. There are the Dodges out there and there's also Ron Hornaday and Andy Houston in a Ford. We've all got experience. That was my first time here. They've had some Busch races. That's what a rookie pace does for you is it helps keep your nose clean. You need to finish towards the other rookies so you can gain some points. You mind your own business most of the time. You don't really mix it up and try to squeak it in a hole where you won't be able to get away with it."
WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF WHAT THE 55 AND 33 DID?
"There's an air wake that comes off the cars, similar to a boat going through the water. If you stay real close to the car next to you like they did, you'll be able to come up through on that outside lane depending upon where the leader cars are. I thought if the first five cars stayed in line, we were gonna be okay. When they got to me, that pinched my outside line away and I couldn't go below the yellow line. I was basically stuck pushing that orange Home Depot car."
DO YOU HAVE A COMMENT ON LOUIS DUNCAN, A FORMER FORD AERODYNAMIST, WHO HAS HELPED CHEVROLET WIN THE LAST COUPLE OF RESTRICTOR PLATE RACES? HAS THAT BEEN A BIG LOSS FOR FORD?
"One of the things about Winston Cup racing is that so many people move around. People move around with an opportunity to increase their wage, at a point in time, to leverage everything that they have learned -- not only by their own initiative but by the contact they've had with others -- and they trade it in to their next deal where they sell not only their time, but the information that they've learned from everybody else. We don't want Louis Duncan back. We don't need Louis Duncan. We probably, over a period of time, taught Louis Duncan as much as he knows -- as much as he taught us, and I'm speaking of all of Ford-dom, and he's obviously doing a nice job with that program. But we didn't get beat today because Louis Duncan did a better job with the Chevrolet cars. We got beat today because of where we were on the race track and the way the thing unfolded. I think that the top six or eight cars were fairly even. The way the race wouldn't have been even would have been if there was a bunch of those Dodges up front. With the advantage they've got, then we wouldn't have had a competitive race and it probably wouldn't have been a fair race."
BUT THE HIGHEST DODGE FINISHED 15TH TODAY?
"I don't know if you were watching the same race I was watching, but one Dodge sped down pit road. The top Dodge blew up and the other one got penalized again, so they weren't where they should have based on things that happened on the race track involving penalties or failures. When those things occur, there's not an aerodynamic advantage that would offset that. The Dodge was checked twice at Daytona and in the first instance it was 50 horsepower better than the Ford in the qualifying sense. After the race they checked it in race trim and it was still in the same area in race trim better than the Ford. The fact is that NASCAR made an adjustment in the Ford and the Dodge. They took roughly eight horsepower of drag off the Ford, which made it within striking distance of the Pontiac and the Chevrolet, and then made a change to the Dodge that added another seven or eight horsepower drag. So they should have had a huge advantage and it looked like they did based on the way they qualified, but the difference between being in the draft and out of the draft here is way more than 100 horsepower. You take a really good car that's not running with another car and he'll get lapped in 50 laps here. Once the race starts, it's all to do about how much experience you've got and what kind of shocks you've got in your car and where you are on the race track in relation to other people that can go."