Continued from part 1 Q: With the Coke 400 in Daytona coming up, are you excited to be coming back to Daytona where you had that great finish in February? KURT BUSCH: Yeah, Daytona is always great in the summertime. It's hot, it's ...
Continued from part 1
Q: With the Coke 400 in Daytona coming up, are you excited to be coming back to Daytona where you had that great finish in February?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, Daytona is always great in the summertime. It's hot, it's slick, and the track uses you up mentally and physically because of how different it is in July. So yeah, we're pumped up. We finished 1-2 there back in February. Hopefully our setup will be fairly close when we get down there, and hopefully we'll have a chance to win one of these restrictor plate races.
Q: I'd like to note that a lot of people did ask about your brother, and my question to you is this: Did you help him get a jump start? Because really he had to be able to learn from some of your experience before he even got in the sport, we're talking driving and everything.
KURT BUSCH: Well, I would say that he's definitely ahead of the curve for the age that he is versus most drivers, even myself included. When I was racing in Las Vegas, legend cars or late models and whatnot, I raced because I had to be 16 years old. Well, they passed a rule that you could be 12 years old and race legend cars in the Young Lions division. So some of us drivers paved the way and helped change the way that drivers can get into different cars at different times, and so he started competitively racing at 12 in legend cars, which was unheard of at the time for when I was growing up.
Q: Can you also talk about whether your car was hot this past week at Pocono? I mean, guys were falling over practically, Danny Hamlin to the infield care center; Dale, Jr., was sick; also Brian Vickers, his words were being slurred at the end, he could hardly talk. Talk about the cooling system in your car and whether you felt the car was all that hot.
KURT BUSCH: Well, this new car is definitely warmer than the old car. I don't know why. I don't know what adds up to it. But it seems like it's 15, 20 degrees warmer in there, as well as you're working twice as hard. It doesn't turn very well, it doesn't stick very well to the racetrack, so you're up on the wheel racing hard.
I saw it coming. I saw the heat coming. I got as hydrated as I could before in the days leading up to it. So it's a tough battle. Here it is, that's only the really first hot race of the year at a big racetrack with this car, so we've got Michigan next week that we haven't been to, Sears Point is always warm out there in Sonoma, and then we're going to be back at Daytona, Chicago, Indianapolis. That one is going to be a tough one, as well. Who knows what NASCAR can do. They don't seem to like to listen to the drivers.
Q: Did you feel that you were about to pass out when you got out? How did you feel when you got out of your car and stood up?
KURT BUSCH: I felt all right. I was pumped up. We had an eighth place finish and that carried me right into the hauler to get undressed and to get out of there.
Q: Thank you for your time today. Can you talk a little bit about your season as a whole and how you've dealt with the peaks and the valleys, the good finish at Daytona and then the disappointments beyond that to 21st in points? How have you kept that even keel and kept from going home and kicking the dog every night?
KURT BUSCH: It's a tough battle. There's the good years and then there's the bad years. A year like this is definitely a character-builder. It teaches you to fight from within and to keep reaching and to keep pushing harder each and every week to have a shot at trying to get back into the top 15 in points or top 12 or even just try to crack the top 10 barrier each and every week. You're working hard and you've got to keep things on a level field to know that, hey, you can still do this, everything is going to be fine. We've just got to work through this to get this new car to work better for Penske Racing.
Q: Can you talk a little bit about how the Kurt Busch of 2008 is dealing with this and maybe how the Kurt Busch of 2002 and 2003 might have handled it differently?
KURT BUSCH: Well, I feel like I've got more years of experience under my belt, and just being able to expect the unexpected and to be able to deal with it easier because when you first start out, you're out there, you don't know what the history or what the past has brought you, and so you're just winging it. And sometimes that doesn't necessarily bode well for the ultimate success. So the experience level has helped me and just being able to deal with the good and the bad over the years is definitely carrying us through this.
Q: I wondered if you could talk a little bit about your brother. I'm sorry if you already mentioned this, but I just got on. Talk about Kyle and what's your thoughts on his schedule and kind of where he's headed and maybe a little bit about his fans, maybe his popularity and kind of his thoughts on that and what you think of that?
KURT BUSCH: Well, I think that like any driver that gets hot in any racing series, there's always that attention that's around him. And the way that he's winning races and beating the fans' heroes, that ultimately leads to good stories. I've been through it and seen it. When you win races, you're hot, and people necessarily don't like it because you're beating their favorites. So he's got a grueling schedule with driving all the different divisions that he's in, and I'm happy to see him do well in all of them.
Q: Do you think the fans will eventually turn around and be supporters of Kyle?
KURT BUSCH: You know, it just depends on what the overall view is. I don't know what the Busch brothers do sometimes to have the fans go against them, but we're just hard-charging racers like we have been taught to do by our father and by the competition. Sometimes it's not well-perceived. But we're just out there racing hard, usually putting on great racing action, and sometimes it just gets misled.
Q: We're still receiving various comments from drivers concerning this new car, comments like it doesn't handle well at some tracks. You and the boys will be racing at Michigan International Speedway, which is almost like racing at California Speedway because of the similarity of the tracks. Will driving at Michigan be a big help to you because you raced at California earlier this year with the tracks being so similar?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, I think that it helps to go to tracks that are similar. That way you've got the notebook from earlier on in the year. But then on the flipside of that, what we've learned over the last few weeks is the most important information because it's the newest information.
Michigan, it's a bit different than California. It's now summertime. It's going to be hot and slick, so we'll see how we deal with it.
Q: Thank you for being with us. I know it's difficult to get out of your schedule and be able to stop down and talk to people such as myself, and I really do appreciate it. I wanted to know, as the older brother of Kyle, has he come to you for any advice on how to handle the pressure of being in this major spotlight right now, or has he been handling it himself?
KURT BUSCH: He's been full throttle all by himself. He's been racing all the different racing series and doing well at them, so I'm happy for him. He's just doing it all on his own, really. It seems like he's got it all under control and he's on the gas.
Q: In what ways are you similar to your brother, and in what ways do you guys differ?
KURT BUSCH: I would say that we both want to race hard to win and to put on a great show for the fans. That's where we're very similar. We're not very different in many areas, other than I'm probably still just the guy around the corner or the regular joe, so to speak, and just trying to be the regular guy that I always was, so that might be where we're a bit different because his sunglasses are pretty wild right now and he's definitely putting on this new image.
Q: How has your No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge not wrecked this season so far from the startup at Daytona until now, and what do you expect coming up this week at Michigan?
KURT BUSCH: Well, it's been a good year in some aspects and it's been a tough year in others. We still seem to have the same problem week in and week out with our front end of our Dodge is not turning very well. So whether we get our finger on it sooner or later, I hope it's sooner, and that way we can get back into victory lane for all of our great sponsors and just try to get back in the top 12 in points.
Q: Kind of an off-the-wall question, but what do you do for vacation when you're not racing, when you're not on the racetrack or practicing or working with the team?
KURT BUSCH: Vacation is always spent on a sandy beach somewhere. Warm water is always helpful to just get away and break away and do nothing. Of course, you've got to sip on a couple Miller Lites while you're out there on vacation.
Q: For the fans that are fans of a particular make or model, what is it that makes a Dodge a Dodge, a Chevy a Chevy? What are the differences now that the COT has kind of leveled the playing field?
KURT BUSCH: Well, everybody still has their passion for their emblem on who they want to see do well and just what their blood is inside. If you're a Dodge guy from the get-go, you're going to be that for life. Fans still have that feeling towards the Dodges.
The race cars are all relatively the same, but yet there's the personality within the engine, of course, and then with the team race as far as building the chassis and what's underneath that skin. If you're a Dodge guy, you're a Dodge guy for life.
Q: You mentioned teams getting hot and cold. It seems any given week teams can run well with good or bad luck and run poorly with good or bad luck. Is there any best way to prepare for the inevitable ups and downs?
KURT BUSCH: No, it's just a matter of how you can deal with those tough days and turn them into positive days. You can have the fastest car in the world and have a bad pit stop or have a mechanical failure, and you can't lose track or you can't derail the whole process off of just one thing happening. So sometimes when you're just not on the right track, you've got to find the right switch and get her turned around.
Q: Is there a best way to go forward after a bad week?
KURT BUSCH: You know, the best thing to do is just to chop it off and look forward. But at the same time, you have to go back and scratch the surface on, hey, where did something go wrong and what can we do in the future to make sure it doesn't happen again.
Q: Can you talk about your experiences at Pocono a little bit and also how that wild spin in the beginning, how you were able to pull everything?
KURT BUSCH: It just seemed like we were very, very tight at the beginning of the race, and so we made some adjustments during the first pit stop. Man, like I've always said with this car, it's like a razor blade edge. We went from very tight to extremely loose with just a couple changes.
So we ended up spinning, tearing apart our front valance on the rough infield grass. Some of the access roads they have for safety trucks were there and we caught air jumping over all of that and tore a valance off and had to battle back from that. It can be real easy for us to complain about the valance and the height, but if we stayed on track we wouldn't have had to worry about that.
Q: And going on to this weekend, what do you think we're going to be talking about? A lot of people are saying it's a fuel mileage rage, it's a horsepower race. What are you and your team thinking?
KURT BUSCH: It's good ol' Michigan. You can race three wide at this racetrack and you always have to have a fast car at the beginning of a run, but yet you can't count out the guys that are always fast towards the end because sometimes it does play into fuel mileage because the race, the fuel, everything always usually adds up to about 50 laps at this race, and 50 laps times four is 200, so that's usually the whole event at Michigan.
Q: Earlier when you were talking about just the conditions of the car and just kind of how hot it can be and some of the upcoming races, about how hot it's going to be in the upcoming months, you mentioned that NASCAR is not listening to the drivers. What is NASCAR not listening to the drivers on?
KURT BUSCH: Pretty much everything there is to know about the car, whether it's the front splitter height or whether it's the downforce. These cars are tough, and they've laid the bed and they're going to stick with it. You're not going to get me to jump out there and say this is what we need to fix here or there. It's just the group in general all seems to agree, so whether NASCAR listens or not, we'll know.
Q: I just was curious about the schedule that Kyle has attempted to kind of maintain throughout the course of the year. Racing as many different series as he does, is it something that you necessarily would do yourself, and why is it that drivers on the Cup side go down and race in Nationwide when clearly you're racing in two different types of cars now, and any track time you might get might be nullified by that fact?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, I mean, once you're a racer, you're always a racer. I think that's why you see different drivers jump into different divisions and go racing. You're out there for that trophy at the end of the day, and that's all that your mind is set forward to do. Sometimes it can take away from your Cup program, which is the most important. I believe the Nationwide series is a great developmental series for drivers that are up-and-comers and trying to work their way into the Cup Series.
You know, the Truck Series is a great place for those young drivers as well as the veterans that have found a nice niche to go out there and race in. If it's in you, you're going to go out there and race every weekend in all that you can.
Q: Would you necessarily do that, do the schedule that your brother is doing?
KURT BUSCH: You know, I used to race a bunch when I was younger, four or five divisions on a race weekend, whether it was late model or modified, legend cars, you name it; anything with a steering wheel I was trying to get in. Now that I've made it to this elite level, my focus is strictly on the Cup Series and what I can do to focus on making Penske Racing stronger.
HERB BRANHAM: First of all, thank you to our 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch. Best of luck this weekend.