An Interview With: KURT BUSCH HERB BRANHAM: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Welcome to today's NASCAR Cam video teleconference. We're in advance of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway. That race is ...
An Interview With:
HERB BRANHAM: Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Welcome to today's NASCAR Cam video teleconference. We're in advance of Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway. That race is the Autism Speaks 400 presented by Hershey's Milk and Milkshakes.
Our guest today for our call is the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch. He drives the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge for Penske Racing. Kurt comes into Dover eighth in the series standings.
Kurt, from the outside looking in, looks like a pretty good start for you and your team to the season thus far, but from your perspective, where are you guys right now?
KURT BUSCH: I feel like we've had a good start to the season with a win in Atlanta, and sitting on the pole at my hometown track of Las Vegas and then finding some solid top-5 runs. Where we are in points isn't exactly where we want to be, but if we find some more consistency in the next few weeks, especially to start off the summer stretch, then I think we'll start to blend into Steve Addington's ideas, my ideas, and we'll start to blend perfectly on the same page.
HERB BRANHAM: You have not won at Dover yet. What type of challenge does that track present that you may be still trying to get a handle on?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, I had the opportunity to win there in the Truck Series, but I haven't crossed the line first in the Cup Series. It's just the longer races, the more the track rubbers in, it makes it really hard for the front tires to turn and to maintain that pace all day long. Last year we had two top-5 finishes at Dover. We'll polish up on that setup hopefully using some of the ideas we had from Texas' win last fall, because I think Dover races more like a mile and a half than it does like a mile racetrack.
Q: We're six races into the change to the spoiler now, and I just wanted to know from your perspective if you think it's changed things, if you think it's really not made that much of a difference. Certainly there are guys who have moved way up; Denny has won three times since we switched, and some guys haven't won. But from your perspective what difference has it made, or has it made much of a difference in your opinion?
KURT BUSCH: I think it's made a significant change in the sport, and some teams have adapted to it better than others, and there could be different drivers within the same organization that have done better or worse with it. An example I'd like to lead with is Jeff Gordon has really flourished with the new spoiler, where Mark Martin has struggled a little bit. So I find it interesting on how it's balancing the car different, whether it's front downforce, rear downforce, driving styles, and so we're starting to see what the spoiler's change is doing.
Is the 48 car just having bad luck right now, or has it really changed the game that much for them? So we'll understand a little bit more as we go down into these summer month races like Charlotte, Pocono, Michigan. Those will be some good tests to see who's going to be strong in the upcoming months.
Q: Sorry to be a little bit superfluous here, but I know you're a big Chicago Cubs fan. I want to ask you, A, can they turn it around; and B, how much do you get to watch them and how much does it affect your day based on their performance?
KURT BUSCH: I hope we can get it turned around. I'm a lifelong Cubs fan and am always there rooting for them. When I see them lose, I kind of kick the dirt a little bit and hope that tomorrow can be a better day. And the fact that they're making changes and moving around Zambrano to the bullpen, I think that's exciting. But I still just love the opportunity to come up to Wrigley and enjoy a game at the ballpark. I mean, it's the most fun that anybody can have. That's the true reason about being a fan of the Cubs is Wrigley Field and just loving the "Lovable Losers." So we hope we can get it turned around.
Q: I actually have two questions. The first one is you were talking about the spoiler. You know, you talk to Mark Martin about it, and he says, well, the data doesn't really show that it's the spoiler. He doesn't really even know. And I think it's really interesting what you were saying, if people are performing not as good as they did before and they don't know if it's the spoiler or not, that actually they could sort of think that. You know what I'm saying?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, I follow you on that. It's definitely difficult sometimes to find the exact reason on why you didn't win the race this year as you did the year before. But Mark almost sat on the pole at Darlington. He was fast. But it seemed like throughout the full 500 miles, their car wasn't the race-winning car it was a year ago. So how much did change? And we have to look at the tire, as well. The tire seems to change weekly on all these tracks that we go to.
For me I just know the balance I had at Texas last fall with the race-winning car and what I raced there this spring was enough to start thinking differently, and sometimes it matches the things that you already have in your car, sometimes it doesn't match, and you just have to uncover one rock at a time.
Q: And another question is about the Sprint All-Star voting in process. There are a number of big-name drivers who are not in right now and they're not campaigning like in some years past because they really want to think they can race their way in and obviously don't want to be out there campaigning. There's a lot of pride on the line. What about the vote into the All-Star race and can you imagine what it would be like to not be in and yet maybe get voted in if you couldn't race your way in?
KURT BUSCH: Well, that's what our sport is all about is our fans. This is a unique way for them to be involved and to get them to vote for their favorite driver. This year is different than years past. We have some big names like Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, Juan Pablo Montoya, just to name a few, and then of course I'm rooting for my guys like Sam Hornish to get in, and we'll see how things shake out. If you don't make the race and a fan votes you in, that's got to be a heart-warming feeling to know there was millions of fans voting and now you're going to go out and race for them in that All-Star race.
Q: I read on Tom Roberts' release this morning that you'll be driving a new car at Dover, PRS 712, but I had a question looking at the NASCAR entry list; you, Sam and Brad are all showing as coming to Dover with 2009 Dodges. Is that a typo, or are these actually 2009 cars?
KURT BUSCH: Well, with us bringing a new chassis, that would eliminate the 2009 thought. I think it might be a typo. You'll have to call Tom Roberts on that. I'd say we have 2010 Dodges. Our chargers are what we want to race each week, and we've got to have the freshest stuff out there, so I would just go with a typo on that one.
Q: But it is a new chassis, though?
KURT BUSCH: 712 sounds like a new chassis number for me because earlier this year we had 704, 702, so sounds like we're cycling around to some new chassises.
Q: You ran really well on the concrete at Bristol back in the early spring. What are the challenges of running on a concrete track like Dover?
KURT BUSCH: The biggest issues on concrete tracks in my mind, and maybe it's something I've got to get over, is the fact that they rubber up much more vigorously than asphalt tracks. They go through more of a mood swing. So early in the weekend when you first get there, the concrete is fresh, it doesn't have that rubber-filled-in look, and then by the time the checkered flag drops, the track is really rubbered in, gets really slick and hard to get a hold of.
Q: Can you give us your quick overall thoughts on your experience in today's Hall of Fame opening ceremonies?
KURT BUSCH: Oh, it's a wonderful day in the history of NASCAR with the Hall of Fame grand opening today and all the different champions, past drivers, owners, sponsors, all the top dignitaries in NASCAR, and to have the City of Charlotte, the North Carolina government, everybody involved to make this whole deal happen, it puts us on the map with other professional sports in having a Hall of Fame.
It just seems different to be sitting there hanging out with D.W. or Richard Petty, Terry Labonte this morning. We do different things as champions together, but today I had that heart-warming feeling that this was something pretty special. And this Hall of Fame, when you first walk in the door, is overwhelming with all the different exhibits, the history. I mean, past, present, future, this is the home of NASCAR and a great way to resemble it.
Q: Did you have one particular spot that you enjoyed the most out of today?
KURT BUSCH: I've been just bouncing around to different parts of the Hall of Fame doing interviews, fan interaction, different items. But it's got to be the Walk of Fame with all the champions' cars, and I have yet to see my No. 97 up there, but I can't wait.
Q: You're coming to be known as a good survivor of the green-white checkered, especially with your win in Atlanta, and also with your strong performance at the end of Richmond, surviving the three attempts and coming from 29th to finish eighth. What is your overall opinion now of the green-white checkered since Atlanta? Is it becoming a good thing, or is it three attempts too many?
KURT BUSCH: Well, it's a rule that they made, and we have to do our best job to get the best result at the end of the day. Green-white checkereds can work in your favor or they can work against you. What has happened in our sport with double-file restarts and then all of these green-white checkers at the end, the game is not over until it's over, and you have to stay in it to win it, whether you've been running good all day or whether you just got back on the lead lap and you're trying to scrap for positions. You just try to keep a positive outlook and just trudge your way through it the best that you can.
Talladega is the race that you're referring to where we went from 29th to eighth, and that was because of a restrictor plate. You never know where you'll find the air just to steal off of other cars, but you just keep your foot on the floor and keep trying to get to the front.
Q: Has it changed any discussion with you and Addington as regards to strategy?
KURT BUSCH: It definitely has. It's not just as easy as bolting on four tires and seeing who the fastest car is. It's bolting on two tires, it might be just taking fuel only and playing the strategy to see if you can come out on top against the other guy. What's tough is you're not running your best lap times at the end anymore, you're just trying to survive.
HERB BRANHAM: Thanks, and good luck indeed, Kurt, this weekend at Dover and the rest of the season. Thank you.
KURT BUSCH: Thank you so much, Herb, and to all the media that weren't here to participate in the Hall of Fame opening, this is quite the spectacle, and I invite everybody to come to Charlotte.