KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON BEING BACK IN LAS VEGAS? "It's great to be back in Las Vegas and see everyone and just be in your hometown. It's really exciting with all the things going on. We're busy with...
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON BEING BACK IN LAS VEGAS? "It's great to be back in Las Vegas and see everyone and just be in your hometown. It's really exciting with all the things going on. We're busy with a lot of appearances and of course hitting the race track, I'm looking forward to a good run this weekend. I feel like last weekend was a good boost for our team, to run in the top-five all day. Having that excitement heading into our hometown just gets us pumped up for hopefully good things this weekend...just a busy schedule. I've got friends of mine like Don Prudhomme (NHRA owner); he called looking for tickets at the last minute...guys like Ron White (comedian) is in town tonight. Just trying to get caught up with everybody and keeping track of the main focus which is the race car."
ARE DRIVERS PRESSING MORE DURING PIT STOPS AND MAKING MISTAKES SO FAR THIS YEAR? "I think it's because we've just had more guys on the lead lap and we have more guys shooting in and out of their pit boxes at the same time. It just lends itself to people running into one another. I can only think of the Nationwide race when Dale Jr. and Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski were coming off of pit road...that's the only thing that stands out in my mind. I don't get to see exactly what happens on pit road other than what's outside my windshield. So far, it's been clear for the Miller Lite Dodge. With more yellows, you're going to have more guys on the lead lap. That gives the leader less of a chance to catch the last place car, so there's more guys on the lead lap and maybe that's a sign that there's tougher competition out there. You've got so many guys trying to get in the race and it's creating a better-quality field."
HOW FAST DO YOU TRUST A GOOD START TO THE SEASON? IS THERE ANY REAL IMPACT? "It's too early to tell with only two races under our belt. When you have two good races to start (the season), hopefully we'll have three, four, five (more races) and as many as we can have; it helps you going into the summer months when you have things pop up....a DNF, an engine failure, a wreck, pit road incident...those things can happen. The points that you build up as a base, you can give some of those back (later in the season). I believe that it's always five to seven races in before you can really gauge with an 'up' arrow or 'down' arrow next to it. About Texas, that's when I'm usually looking...where you go through a restrictor-plate race, some mile-and-a-halfs and two-mile tracks and then you go through the short tracks of Bristol and Martinsville. After Texas, you're heading into Talladega. You never know what's going to happen at Talladega. You hope you come out of there with a decent finish and that's about where you're going to run in the points."
WHO WON LAST NIGHT AT YOUR CHARITY KARTING RACE? "I had the teams rigged I think for my Kurt Busch Foundation event. I was blessed to have a good group of Cup drivers and Nationwide drivers come out. My little brother (Kyle) was there, Denny Hamlin was there. I had a bunch of Penske Racing guys there -- Justin Allgaier and David Stremme and Sam Hornish Jr. We had some last minute entries...Hermie Sadler and Kelly Bires. Each one of them had a contact with the group that they were with. We had great supporters with Sprint. We had great supporters with Kruger Farms, a group out of Minnesota. They're big Kurt Busch fans. We had quite a few race fans that paid to participate, to race with Cup drivers. I thought it was a win-win. Everybody had a smile on their face. It was quite pleasing. My other objective was to give a couple kids the chance to show their go-karting skills. You may hear their names down the road. One of those is Kyle Johnson... a kid here locally. Another kid named Matt Jascal, who has been racing around here in Vegas for quite some time in stock cars and open-wheel cars, is 23 years-old and looking for a big break. I'm not out there soliciting for him, I just think the kid is a good driver and he can use a break. All those kids were on my team (laughs). We had a good five-lap advantage at the end of an hour race."
SO YOUR TEAM WON? "We had a five-lap advantage at the end and we won."
DO YOU KNOW HOW WELL IT DID FOR YOUR FOUNDATION YET? "We reached our full capacity which was 12 teams of five drivers a piece...$25,000. The money that was raised was fantastic in this type of economy and supporting that type of initiative. The proceeds all go to Victory Junction Gang Camp and we're looking forward to using this event as a spring board for better things to come here in the Las Vegas valley."
HEADING INTO THE SEASON, DID YOU HAVE AN IDEA THAT YOU WERE GOING TO HAVE SUCH A GOOD START TO THE SEASON? "We were hoping to have a great start just like all the other teams, but it's tough. The anxiety level is a little higher than normal because we haven't had pre-season testing and we haven't had the chance to answer our off-season questions as far as different setup notes and things that we want to change on the car. So all the teams are trying to use the practice sessions as best as they can to get their answers answered. Just like today, we'll base our setup off the notes that we have from this off-season. We'll think of the things that we did from California Speedway and try to eliminate some of our testing list on what we would have wanted to do. And then we'll try to get our car dialed-in for Las Vegas Motor Speedway's current track conditions, current temperatures and what we'll have to do to get our car qualified by this afternoon."
HOW DID LAST WEEKEND'S CAR FINISH..START-TO-FINISH...AS COMPARED TO YOUR BEST 2008 CAR? "We had some good runs during the Chase last year. We weren't part of the Chase, but it gave us a chance to experiment and throw some big darts at the wall and see which ones were going to stick. We finished second at Phoenix last year. That was a good solid run. We finished third at Charlotte and there were good ideas that we brought out of both of those races. When you're not in the Chase running for a Championship, you really get to think out of the box. So we compiled all those ideas. Right now, its way too early to talk championship, but we're trying to be the smartest that we can use our decisions from last year to help us. Like a car that we had last week, it ran a lot better than what we ran most of last year."
HOW HARD IS IT TO GET CUP DRIVERS TO SHOW UP AT CHARITY EVENTS LIKE YOURS? "It's quite a project. You can put your management staff on it or the people that work for me on my foundation. It's tough because you don't get the replies. When you reach out to them personally and send some text messages or a voicemail or even hand written letter, it helps them realize how strong I feel about (that) appearance and the foundation. Last week at California Speedway, Gillian Zucker was putting together a concert and a week before, she had zero drivers. I got this memo that said, 'So and so was singing and so and so was going to perform and they're looking for Cup drivers.' Well I had a Miller Lite appearance and I couldn't quite make it. Gillian Zucker calls me personally and then I had to call Miller to re-arrange it (my appearance) and it all happens. You just have to make it work. It's all about the people that work to make it happen. I'm really fortunate to have a group of drivers that you can depend on that came out for this event. It's tough to put it together, but at the end, you put a big smile on because you know how much work goes into it. And the way that it impacts many children's lives, that exactly what we wanted to do."
WITH THE LACK OF TESTING, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE BALANCE BETWEEN TRYING TO TEST YET STILL REMAIN INSIDE THE TOP 12? "This year we have a new adjustment tool in the rear sway bar, so we have to figure out which tracks like it and which tracks don't. So you can't spend too much time on (getting) that part to work because you're going to run out of practice time. But if we had a test session, we'd probable spend two, two-and-a-half-hours trying to get that part implemented in our car. You work with different bump rubbers and you just have to make quicker decisions on when you're going to adjust on your car and go in a different direction. We just don't have that testing time. I think that NASCAR wanted to create that element of, 'hey, we're going to give you a limited time and if you get your car dialed in, so be it.' But there's going to be more guys that don't get their cars dialed in, so you're going to have more positions swapping on the track. I think that it's going to make racing more exciting because people aren't going to have their cars setup perfectly to race the competition with. You're going to deal with the imperfections of your car."
WHEN YOU WON YOUR CUP CHAMPIONSHIP, DID YOU ORIGINALLY THINK THE SECOND AND THIRD CHAMPIONSHIP WOULD HAVE COME EASIER? "You never can expect things to happen. You can't expect things to easier. It seems like every year the competition gets tougher. You have to go out there and be smarter and not stick with your past tendencies, whether it's setups, racing lines. Things change and that's what makes it so exciting as a driver. Every day you come to work, there's something new that's going on. There's something new that you have to adjust to and you can't expect to be on top. You have to work hard for it. That's where Jimmie Johnson and that group at Hendrick Motorsports have been phenomenal. They've adjusted from the old down-force car to our new car and it (the adjustment) has been phenomenal and tough while they're doing it. That's where the competition is getting tougher, so you can't back down."
-credit: dodge motorsports