Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Tuesday, March 20,2007 Bristol Motor Speedway KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Avenger) NOTE: Busch is the defending champion of the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. He's won five of the past 10...
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference
Tuesday, March 20,2007
Bristol Motor Speedway
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Avenger)
NOTE: Busch is the defending champion of the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. He's won five of the past 10 races at the high-banked .533-mile track. The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Avenger team tested today at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in South Carolina, preparing for the second COT race on April 1 at Martinsvsille. Busch took time out during a lunch break Tuesday to discuss NASCAR's inaugural COT race on Sunday at Bristol.
WHAT ARE YOU EXPECTING SUNDAY AT BRISTOL?
"At Penske Racing we're expecting the unexpected with our Dodge Avenger and everybody running cars of tomorrow. It really is an interesting weekend ahead of us being it's the first race ever. It's a very historical mark in our sport. The winner will definitely be the inaugural winner forever in the record books. The big picture is going to be the same thing as always at Bristol, and that's to survive. You have to be in position to win. You have to have the car that has the least amount of marks and dings and scratches. I think that's going to hold true with the car of tomorrow. We're still continuing to work on our car of tomorrow. There's not very many racetracks in the world that look like Bristol. Testing there was done a few weeks ago during the two-day test. We're just trying to prepare the best we can for our Dodge Avenger to run well at Martinsville."
WHAT ARE THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES WITH THE COT?
"The car of tomorrow has so many questions. Whether it's loading it into the hauler or it's knowing what the rear wing or the front splitter are going to do at speed. You just have to keep an open mind and stay level-headed and cool-headed. There's just going to be so many unknowns going into the race. You just go in there and race the best you can and hopefully past experience comes into play and that will help our team move through the pack or continue to lead laps if we're running up toward the front. One of the unknowns I'm intrigued by is if you have to dodge a wreck that's on the banking and you have to jump down on the flat part of the racetrack, do you risk the chance of knocking your front splitter off? That's something that has yet to be tested."
DO YOU LOSE ANY OF YOUR ADVANTAGE AT BRISTOL WITH THE COT?
"It always helps to go back to previous experience to help blend in with success for that day or for this race weekend. I'll lean on some of that, yet the car of tomorrow, I think it's so new, I think it's a great opportunity for everybody to start over and work their best chassis to try to win the race. It's just a great opportunity to try to win again with a different car."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOUR TEAM IS A STEP AHEAD WITH THE COT AT THIS POINT?
"I'd like to think we're a step ahead of the competition, but you never know what other guys are doing and how they've been able to work on their cars since Daytona testing. We've been able to do that because we've had some cars ready to go. Yet, we've made improvements on our Dodge Avenger to make it even better from where we were in testing. This car will continue to evolve and the most information you could possibly gather is about to unfold in front of us this weekend with the car or tomorrow. You've just got to stay on top of your game, especially these next two weeks."
DO YOU THINK IT'S TO YOUR ADVANTAGE THAT YOU HAVEN'T COMPLAINED ABOUT THE COT?
"I feel like the best opportunity to win and be successful is to embrace what's ahead of you, whether it's a challenging race track or a tire for race weekend or even for the new direction of NASCAR which is this car of tomorrow. The safety influences on the car encourage a driver. The way we hope this car races side by side, nose to tail more easily, I think that has yet to be shown just because of all the testing we did was mainly single file. Yet, even on the short tracks, we're on top of each other all the time anyway. The car will really see its true potential once we get it on the bigger tracks."
WILL THE REAR WING BE ADJUSTABLE DURING THE RACE?
"It would be very difficult to adjust the rear wing. They have it with bolts that go through both the upright of the wing and the piece that bolts downward off the wing. You would actually have to loosen up the bolt all the way, and you would sacrifice going a lap down. To me, I don't think you would want to adjust the rear wing during the race. You've going to want fit for maximum downforce, and you're going to be worried about other smaller things rather than your rear wing angle."
ARE YOU AS CONFIDENT AS YOU'VE BEEN ENTERING PAST BRISTOL RACES?
"I hope that's my edge going into Bristol. Everybody's got a new race car and a new opportunity to try to win. Some of the past experience I have will hopefully lend itself true, and that will help us create an advantage over the rest of the competition."
WHAT DO YOU HOPE THE COT CAN DO THAT YOU CAN'T DO AS WELL IN THE CURRENT CAR AND WHEN DO YOU THINK YOU'LL BE ABLE TO TELL THAT?
"I hope we'll be able to race side by side and nose to tail in a bigger pack more easily, such as at tracks like Atlanta, Dover or Charlotte, the bigger race tracks. We won't see its aerodynamic potential until we show up at Darlington, but we know Darlington is a single-file race track. You have to race the race track at Darlington. The car will really create its pattern I believe at Dover. What we have for race tires and cambers versus what we have for aerodynamics and setups as far as racing side by side, that's what we want to see from this race car and we want to have more of that for the fans to enjoy."
WILL THE BRISTOL RACE REALLY SHOW MUCH ABOUT THE CAR'S POTENTIAL?
"They wanted to run this car at tracks of a mile or less, including road courses and they threw in Darlington. It just so happened on the schedule that Bristol was the first one that was a mile or less. I don't think it's the best track to introduce the car, but yet it's the first one on the schedule for the master plan, which is running tracks a mile or less. It's just like the points each season. You have to give it 10 races to shake out or seven races for guys to stop moving up by nine or 15 positions each race. The car is going to take a few races to get developed and we'll see its true potential hopefully by year's end."
DO YOU THINK THE COT WILL BE A 'GREAT EQUALIZER'?
"I absolutely agree. There are many things we'd adjust on the current car that we can't adjust on the car of tomorrow. Our Dodge Avenger will be more tightly compacted in the pack, hopefully with the other manufacturers and that will put more emphasis on who knows the draft better or who has better pit strategy or who can negotiate through traffic. We hope that's the case and we have cars on top of each other all race long so the fans enjoy side by side racing like we see at Talladega or Daytona all the time."
CAN YOU IMAGINE HOW MUCH WORK SOME OF THE NEW TEAMS HAVE HAD TO PUT IN ON THE COT WHILE TRYING TO MAINTAIN THE CURRENT CAR?
"There's quite a bit of work. It seems like every off season I've been around there's more and more work to be done in the off season. This one has definitely been the most. It's just a matter of staying on the cutting edge of the sport and trying to get your car into victory lane. You have to work as hard as you can. There's quite a bit of work to be done right now."
TO WHAT DO YOU ATTRIBUTE YOUR SUCCESS AT BRISTOL?
"Luck has a little bit to do with most every race track, yet at Bristol you have to be smart enough to know when to race and when not to race. There's the times when you're out on the track trying to post the fastest laps you can, and then there's other times when there's 10 or 15 cars in front of you and there's nowhere for you to go. You can't force the issue. There are times when I've been called lucky, and there are times when I've been called good. You've got to have a mixture of both."
DO YOU THINK THE COT IS THE BIGGEST CHANGE YOU'VE EXPERIENCED?
"That's a great question. There's been plenty of change in the few years I've been around, the point system obviously, going from softer tires to harder tires and now back to softer tires. The car of tomorrow is definitely one of the largest changes I've seen in my few years. You can almost give it the same equation as changing a tire back and forth from a hard compound to a soft compound. Do we think that it's right? I believe so. I think the car will provide for a safer situation as a driver is concerned and it's supposed to create a more side by side racing atmosphere for the fans to enjoy. The time is now. We have to go and do it and apply it to the race track and see what happens."
DO YOU THINK THE TOUGH WINS CREATE SOME OF THE POPULARITY OF THE SPORT WITH THE FANS?
"Absolutely. To win at this level is one of the toughest in all of motorsports, and that's why fans are intrigued by this racing action. There are 20-25 drivers that legitimately have a shot each weekend to win a race. There's probably more than that, but you don't see that in many other series where you have that many guys competitive to win a race."
WITH THE SEAT SITTING MORE TO THE CENTER, HOW DOES THAT ALTER HOW YOU DRIVE THE CAR?
"There isn't a great deal of difference with sitting more toward the center. When I jump back in the current car it feels like I'm too far to the left and almost sacrificing a little bit of safety. It gives you a more comfortable feel, and you get your surroundings on where your tires are and how you feel the race car underneath you. It isn't all that different. The biggest difference really is just the transmission linkage. It's now either on top of the transmission or either on the right side. That changes your shifter links. At the road courses that might be a problem, but for this weekend at Bristol, just restarts, getting up through the gears, will be the only thing, but it's relatively the same."
DOES THE COT FEEL LIKE AN OLD SCHOOL CAR?
"You can definitely feel the car has a historic value to it or more of a old school feel. I only go back to 2000 and from there that's not what we're talking about. We have to go back to the late 80s or let's say the 80s in general. That's probably where these cars are based from. Some of the technology is still the same and some of the same principles still apply, but yet we just have a bigger, boxier car and before long we'll all agree on what this car has to offer and that's what we'll race."
HOW DID HAVING BILLY WEASE TEST THE CAR AT KENTUCKY HELP?
"We sent him to do the dirty work you could say. We wanted him to run the tires off the car and to check clearances, to run different bump rubber configurations up front because now these cars are back on bump rubbers, to try different front end geometry and to try to record the data from that. It was a lot of monotonous work of just lap after lap, session after session, sticking with the 101s of racing, maybe even getting into the 102s or the 401s, but yet he wasn't getting advanced, but he took a lot of the smaller guess work out of the equation. When we jumped in the car, Ryan and myself, we were further down the road."
WHAT DO THE FANS THINK ABOUT THE COT?
"I would say there's mixed emotions about what this car will do. The first indication, just like it is in life in general, is by looks. Like when you meet somebody or when you see a person that looks beautiful so to speak. This car doesn't esthetically appeal to most people's eyes, but yet we have to give it a chance and let it race and see it out on the race track and see what it can do from the inside out. That's what we're hoping the car of tomorrow will prove."
WHAT WILL THE COT COST?
"I haven't talked with Roger (Penske) or Tim Cindric, our general manager, about how much more money we've spent. I know that there's been quite a bit of investment to get the car built and to build more of these cars. In the long run, I definitely see the advantages. Right now we have upward of 15-16 cars that are in the cycle right now of Dodge Chargers. As we get further down the road with the car of tomorrow, we can legitimately do the series off of eight cars. We can run the same car from Daytona, back to Martinsville, to Texas and even throw in a road course. The car will definitely help us to build less cars. Once everything is standardized, it's pretty much the same control arm you'll be building every week as well. That will help save time."
DO YOU SEE THE SAME FAVORITES THIS WEEKEND AT BRISTOL?
"I think you can count on your veteran teams to look strong. Then you could almost factor in a serious darkhorse or wildcard. Who knows what can happen? You could hit the lottery big if you're a team that hits on it just right."
-credit: dodge motorsports