Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Tuesday, July 18,2006 NHIS Recap; Pocono, Wedding Advance KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) OPENING COMMENTS ON NHIS, POCONO? "It was definitely a track that we were much anticipating and when we...
Dodge Motorsports Teleconference Tuesday, July 18,2006 NHIS Recap; Pocono, Wedding Advance
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
OPENING COMMENTS ON NHIS, POCONO? "It was definitely a track that we were much anticipating and when we left there we were scratching our heads. It was definitely a tough weekend. We qualified and put the car in the top 10, which was a decent spot for us with our teammate Ryan Newman sitting on the pole with his Dodge. As the race started we thought we had a good car. We moved up quickly to fifth, sixth place. Each of the pit stop sequences throughout the day, we pitted and within five or six laps the yellow came out promptly after we pitted. So each time we felt we couldn't quite find the right strategy. We ended up on the back side of the lead lap most of the day just due to our wrong timing on the pit stops. The later part of the day we were working our way forward and got collected in a wreck in turn three where I was looking to turn underneath a lapped car and got spun by a car that was on the lead lap that ended up finishing 11th. We had a top 10 rolling and just didn't finish that way with our Miller Lite Dodge. It ended up spinning us. We backed into the fence and bent some rear end suspension and made for a long day after that. We look forward to Pocono, a track where we just want to better our finishing position by one, which will hopefully put us in victory lane this Sunday."
HOW ARE THE WEDDING PLANS PROGRESSING? "The schedule dictates when we have the wedding. We've got it this year with the off weekend between Pocono and Indianapolis. My fiancee said she wanted a summertime wedding, so that's what Eva will get. The plans are going great. I should have fired the wedding planner three times already, but we still have her. She's doing OK, and we're getting down to it. I guess it's the single days where I can count on both my hands that I have left as a bachelor and someone who is anticipating a great marriage and a great new chapter in my life. I can't wait to get married. It's going to be fun. I'm a little bit of a romantic the way I proposed to her, the way we're getting married. Everything has happened on this off weekend for us the past three years, so I can't wait to come back to Indianapolis as a married man and see how I race with that wedding ring on."
WHO'S THE BEST MAN? "It's a good friend of mine from Las Vegas. His name is Jesse Walker, and he's been a crew member on all my teams since 1994. Him and I moved from Vegas together to the Detroit area where we raced a little bit. Then we moved on down to North Carolina together, so we've spent the greater part of the last 12 years together and he'll be my best man. Kyle was in the running there, but he's going to be a groomsman."
HOW DID YOU LIKE THE NEW BUSCH STADIUM? "It was great to stop back by. The main purpose of that trip actually was in connection with the wedding to invite Dale Beaver, who is going to be the pastor in our wedding, who lives within a couple of hours of St. Louis. I brought him and his two boys out to the ballpark and enjoyed the game. It was fun to do it in an atmosphere such as that, so his boys in the summertime could enjoy time with their father as well as talk about wedding plans and sit there and enjoy the atmosphere and look at the arch that you can now see sitting in the ballpark. It definitely was a great atmosphere. They still have some of the best hotdogs around. They grill 'em right there on the spot."
DO YOU STILL SEE THINGS MOVING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION TO MAKE THE CHASE? "Definitely, there's still plenty of time for things to go right for us. Kenseth was over 200 points out after the Pocono race (in 2005) so we've still got one race extra on him, and we've got plenty of cool tracks coming up. Bristol, of course, fits in there. I've won at Richmond. I've won at California. I've won at Michigan, and we had a great run at Sonoma earlier this year, so I hope we can back that up at Watkins Glen. That only leaves the Brickyard as far as upcoming races for us. We've tested there and testing, it's going to be an interesting race because tires aren't lasting the full fuel run. We'll see how that shakes up. That could be the big points shakeup in the whole run to The Chase."
WHAT'S IT LIKE TO DRIVE FOR ROGER PENSKE? "Roger is a tremendous individual, and what he's done in the racing world will stand forever as far as just the way he operates with his teams, the cleanliness in his shops and the whole demeanor around the Penske organization. It's very professional. It's very down to earth. That's something I was looking forward to as far as everybody has that professional look to 'em but yet everybody is able to have a smile on their face because it's a family atmosphere. Those are great things I can say about Roger. There's nothing bad at all. To have him at the racetrack up on top of the spotter's stand... He's in there, every play, every call, every lap, he's definitely paying attention. He knows when we're doing things right, and he knows when we're doing things wrong. I don't think his strategy will change the next six, seven races or so. It's just a matter of pulling through the process and not trying to disturb it. He's a very wise individual, so if he says jump off the bridge I'll do it. We'll see what happens."
WHAT'S MORE STRESSFUL, TRYING TO GET IN THE CHASE OR TRYING TO GET MARRIED? "I'd say winning the thing was the most stressful back in 2004. That was crazy. Right now it's just a matter of getting this team into position to win races which will ultimately lead to finishing real well in the points. We've got the wedding, which is no problem. It's being handled by the wedding planner and Eva. My job is to get the Miller Lite Dodge running faster with Roy McCauley and things we have to do as a team. We went on a nice little stretch. We went five races in a row with top 10 finishes. We were looking for a sixth one. We look at it as just a little hiccup. We've downed some water and poured some sugar down the mouth. I think that's the remedy of getting rid of the hiccups. Now we're ready to rip the next few races."
WITH ALL THE WEDDING CHAPELS IN LAS VEGAS, IT LOOKS LIKE YOU'RE GOING IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION "I would say I know how they made those businesses work in Vegas now because a lot of people run there for their second marriages or even when they don't have the money to put it all together, but I can tell you that a lot of our wedding has been roped back in because of some of the articles that have been written. Environmentalists have gotten hold of different things. Now we can't do anything out on the beach, in the beach area because of Tiger Beetles. We love the way things are going though. We've got everything planned on the front porch. We're going to have the ceremony there and then we'll have the reception out in the backyard, so we're having some fun."
ANY HONEYMOON PLANS? "We'll actually have a few days. Eva and I went between the California and Vegas races to Cabo, down in Mexico. That's what I called the pre-honeymoon. We had four or five days there. We'll have three or four days after the wedding to go to a deserted island somewhere and just do nothing for a few days."
COMMENT ON KYLE BUSCH'S SEASON "I've said it a hundred times. He is a great racer and good things are going to be around him all the time, especially with the way he's continued to mature within his own team. To have him in that points position, he's poised for a solid run in The Chase this year. You could almost move him out of the darkhorse category. He's not a darkhorse anymore. He continues to mature each and every race. He's doing well on tracks where some of his other teammates aren't necessarily doing well on. That's only a bonus to him and what he can do during the next few races."
WHAT ARE KYLE'S CHANCES IN THE CHASE? "I would rank him on a scale of 1-10 as a solid 8 right now. He does things a veteran does. He can bump it up a point, and you always have to reserve a point for Lady Luck. If you can have all that you can end up with what I had in 2004."
WAS LOUDON A MOMENTUM BREAKER? "There's momentum a lot of people like to talk about right now with all different types of scenarios. For us, and what I believe is the way to do things, it's one race at a time. We're in a position where we're still able to make The Chase. There are still some things we have to do a little better to make the cars run faster. When we do that it'll make our job easier to gather those points. With the race where we were, poised for a top 10 finish and to be spun and finish 38th, man, that's a bummer. We look at it as something where we've got to dig down a little deeper now and get through these next few races with some strong finishes."
DO YOU LOOK AT POCONO AS A PLACE TO GIVE YOU ONE MORE SHOT? "I wouldn't say we're down to one more shot. There's still plenty of chances for things to go right and for things to go wrong. We looked at Loudon as a great track because I've won there twice. I've won at Pocono, Michigan, Bristol, California and Richmond, so there are a bunch of cool tracks coming up where I can use my experience to help get the Miller Lite Dodge dialed in."
WHY DID YOU ALMOST HAVE TO FIRE YOUR WEDDING PLANNER THREE TIMES? "One of the stories is exactly what I talked about with Jeff Wolf (Las Vegas Review-Journal). We go and pay for permits to do everything out on the beach. Then to find out we can't do it out on the beach from environmentalists, that was a tough blow to Eva. To have her crying on my shoulder one night that she didn't quite get her dream wedding out on the beach was tough. I thought that was more the wedding planners fault than anybody's."
WHY DID THE TIGER BEETLES INTERFERE? "Those are the insects I guess that have their natural habitat on the Chesapeake Bay in the area we were looking to get married. Their big mating season is the months of June and July. With this being July, the environmentalists said, 'wow, wow. We can't have a bunch of guys out there building a pier and dock for this wedding because it's going to disrupt the environment.' So that's where we've had our trouble. We just had to move everything around to the front porch of the house. We'll do everything there. It's going to be just as fantastic. We're still going to do it at sunset. So it still will be the most romantic thing I've ever seen according to the checkbook. We've had probably over 200 reply to us saying they're coming. I'm expecting about 250. It's going to be toward the evening time of the day. It'll quickly be cooling down and everybody will have a very enjoyable time with all the different things we're having. We've got a cool band coming in and a bunch of NASCAR people, bunch of family. It's a great time to bring two families together."
EDITOR'S NOTE ON TIGER BEETLES: Tiger beetles may be recognized by their swift actions, large pointed mandibles, antennae that arise from the top of the head, long spindly legs which hold the body well off the ground, narrow thorax and broad, almost oblong, elytra. Ground color ranges from brilliant green, violet, or orange to greyish and black. As the name suggests, the tiger beetle ambushes and consumes other insects and small creatures.
DO TRACK CONDITIONS CHANGE IN SIX WEEKS AT POCONO? "They change a little bit, and I know this time around it will definitely be different. When we were up there I think everybody that was there had to bring an overcoat. It was chilly. I expect this time around with the heat wave the whole nation is seeing that temperatures will be warmer, the track will be slicker and you won't be able to get away with as aggressive of a setup. I hope some teams think they weren't aggressive enough and go too far and some teams that were aggressive are going to have to back it down a little bit as far as getting that grip. We'll see what happens. It's going to be a big shakeup, and it's always a tough race because it's 500 miles."
HOW DID YOU MEET EVA? "We met on a blind date. It's a very romantic story. It was on this same off weekend three years ago. Last year, which would have been two years into us dating, is when I decided we'd go to Europe for a quick vacation and I proposed to her in Prague. Everything turns right around this off weekend for us. That's just the way the NASCAR schedule is. She knew nothing about racing beforehand, and we were set up on a blind date by a friend of hers from high school who also is from Chesapeake. His name is Jeremy Brickhouse. That guy works on my race team. He's actually the spotter. I've grown into the Virginia area. I love going up there and visiting the beach. Her family lives in Chesapeake, and of course Norfolk has a great downtown district. It's a lot of fun in that area."
IS EVA A RACE FAN NOW? "She definitely helps out with the team. She sits on the pit box and takes very diligent notes with pit strategy. She scans other teams when the crew chief has other things going on. She's heavily involved with the team, and she does a great job there as well as the support I need in the home structure we have. It's great."
HOW WAS THE WEDDING SITE CHOSEN? "The site is magnificent with the seclusion it has. We were able to meet Dan (Hoffler) through Eva's aunt. She used to work for Dan Hoffler. Eva's cousin is Christopher Forbes from the Forbes Saltwater Taffy. Him and I didn't hit it off well at all in the beginning. He thought I was a racecar driver stealing his cousin. Now we're best friends. Christopher Forbes was a key instrument in introducing me to Dan Hoffler."
WILL YOUR BEST MAN TOAST YOU WITH CHAMPAGNE OR MILLER LITE? "It's going to be fun. He's so nervous. He doesn't know what to say, so the wedding planner is going to come up with some lines for him. He's so nervous that Roger Penske is going to be there and some other people. I told him man it's just me. It's just the good old days. This is probably 10 Daytona 500s going into one weekend here. I'm definitely excited."
COMMENT ON FINE TUNING THE CHASE "I won the championship in 2004 and everybody questioned what type of structure was there and how would it end up. I would say you didn't need to change a thing after 2004. When Tony won it it seemed to solidify it even more. I think you're going to see a great run all the way to the final race. That's what they're trying to do, create that TV atmosphere where people stay interested all the way until the final race. It's tough to do in our sport. In one race, just like we were, in one race you can be taken out. My Chase last year was pretty much ruined after the first race after lap three, so they're looking to help take away those bad days from any of the drivers so when you stub your toe you don't fall back as far as you do right now."
WHO IS DAN HOFFLER? "Dan Hoffler is a very prominent real estate developer in the Virginia Beach area. We met him through Christopher Forbes. He's almost related to the family through marriage, but he's very close to Eva with her childhood. She rode horses out on his farm all the time and spent many summers out on his land. With the Forbes family there and of course the Bryans, Eva Bryan and her family, they've got to know the Hofflers. I've had his boys, Daniel and Hunter, come to two of our races. The kids love coming to the track. They love the racecars. It's just been a development of the relationship through the friendships I've made throughout the Virginia area through Eva."