KURT BUSCH (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T)
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT TRYING TO TACK ON ANOTHER RACE WIN THIS SEASON AND A CHANCE AT $1 MILLION WITH THE SPRINT SUMMER SHOWDOWN? “It’s great to come back to Pocono. It’s one of our favorite tracks on the circuit. This place over the years, for me, has been a really good top-five finish, a first or a second, or it’s been a tire failure or motor failure. So we’re looking for the positive side of it to continue to pad our points with where we are with just six races left to the cutoff.
“The Sprint Summer Showdown, a beautiful promotion that gets everybody excited about running hard up to the Chase. That’s what it’s meant to do. It puts a lot of pressure on teams that want to win and be eligible when we go to Atlanta for a $1 million payday – not just for the team, not just for your own foundation, but for a race fan that’s tied in with Sprint. A great promotion. It’s a brilliant theme for the next few weeks. I just want to thank Sprint for making this happen for us, to create the excitement.”
HOW DID YOU SPEND YOUR BIRTHDAY YESTERDAY? “It was a great day at Walter Reed Medical Center Hospital, to see the troops and visit some of the rooms with some of our wounded soldiers. To go to the rehabilitation area and see these guys, it’s amazing. It’s a very heart-warming experience to go and visit the hospital. It was my fourth trip. To think that when you have a bad day because you didn’t finish well or because you got a flat tire driving down the interstate and you have to change it yourself or you’re late for a meeting and then you see what these guys have been through serving our country; to have their lives altered forever, being changed by being a double amputee or triple amputee and to have scars all over their bodies and not be able to live a normal life anymore.
Some of them, when they get fixed up, they want to get deployed again for overseas and fight again. It’s a way of life. It’s an amazing experience to see these men and women. To go to the hospital on one of its last operating months until they move everything from Walter Reed to Bethesda, it’s a moving experience working with the military. That’s why we teamed up, to try and raffle off a car this year to raise funds and raise awareness along with the Armed Forces Foundation. It’s a beautiful Dodge Charger. One hundred dollars for a ticket and you have a chance to win a car. It’s neat to watch it come full circle. That’s how I spent my 33rd birthday because after 30 you don’t count anymore, you just go to the big 10s on your birthdays – the 30s, 40s, and 50s. I think Jeff Gordon, a good friend of mine, he turned 40, so his birthday was more important this year.
CAN YOU CONTRAST AND COMPARE INFINEON AND WATKINS GLEN? “Two very distinctively different road courses that we visit on the Cup circuit. Watkins Glen is a very fast race track with hard, hard, heavy breaking zones; a road course setup that is really different, but there are still some small things that you can take between the two tracks. We’re really excited about the next couple weeks. Pocono this weekend and Watkins Glen and try and back up what we did at Infineon this year and that’s to bring home another win and make it a “WINsday” – a promotion that Shell has to give race fans a chance to save 22-cents a gallon if they have their Shell Saver Card. It’s pretty exciting when you can win and have a big company like that go nation-wide with a promotion.”
IS THE FRUSTRATION LEVEL AS HIGH AT WATKINS GLEN AS IT WAS AT INFINEON? “I don’t know where I read it, but somebody said the ‘new’ Bristol is now Infineon and everybody uses their paybacks and the opportunity to bump people out of the way, it’s now done at Infineon. You don’t see that at Watkins Glen. Watkins Glen is a standard road course where it’s more of a gentleman-type sport and you’re not looking for the contact at Watkins Glen.”
HAVE YOU TALKED TO BRAD ABOUT HIS ACCIDENT? WHAT’S THE WORSE WRECK THAT YOU’VE BEEN IN? IS IT TOUGH TO GET BACK IN THE CAR? “Yeah, I talked with Brad. He was in our hauler this morning shooting the breeze and trying to pick up more pointers about Pocono. If you looked at him, you wouldn’t know anything was wrong. He had a little bit of trouble getting up and down the steps and that’s just with the swollen ankle that he has. The way that feels and looks is that he’s normal. He’s going to try and run the whole race, but we’ll have Sam Hornish Jr. on stand-by for him.
“I actually lost my brakes at Road America back in 2005. I came out of the pit and did turns 1, 2 and 3. Turn Five is the heavy braking zone at Road America. Luckily, I didn’t have a concrete barrier to run into first. I had where they tie the tires together, like in open wheel where you just zigzag through them. I just blew through those. I was bouncing off of things, walls, and fences. I actually hit an ambulance because nobody expected me to end up that far into the infield. When I jumped out of my car, I couldn’t believe that I survived, for one. Two, the ambulance people were crawling out of the ambulance because the left front was knocked off of it. If one of us were hurt, none of us were going to get to the hospital because the ambulance had a DNF as well. It’s a tough experience when your brakes fail you when you’re going 180-mph. At road courses, you have to slow down to 30 or 50-mph for a slow corner. It was a tough day. We had our back-up car there. I jumped right into the back up (car) and went right back out to run some laps. The old cliché of ‘when you fall off your horse, you have to get right back on it’ is still the best medicine. With Brad being in the car this morning, he had a few days to rehabilitate and get ready, now here he is. You have to know that the team is giving you the best equipment possible and when there’s one small mistake made, everybody has to learn from it.”
WHEN DID YOU START TO TURN YOUR ROAD COURSE PROGRAM AROUND? “Last year, finishing second at Watkins Glen. I finished second to (Juan Pablo) Montoya and beat (Marcos) Ambrose. That was a big moment for me. Back in 2006 I swept the poles at the road courses. I’ve really enjoyed the road courses over the years. To me it feels like an off-weekend where we’re going to have fun, yet it’s not as intense as it is on the ovals. I’ve always taken a light-hearted approach. I actually was on the podium at the Daytona Rolex 24 Hour Race, finishing third one year. So I enjoy it. I don’t know where it clicked or where it hit. One of the fun moments that I always had growing up and racing was going to Bondurant’s driving school and messing around with Mike McGovern, one of their chief instructors for three days straight. That was a great experience for learning about road courses. I think when things turned around was when I just didn’t let the Hendrick cars dump me because we were fast enough to stay away from them this time around.”
THE GLEN HAS SUCH BIG CORNERS. IS THAT WHY YOU’RE ABLE TO SEE GUYS STRETCH LEADS? “You have a lot of speed at Watkins Glen. If you hit the esses just right, nobody is really going to be able to pass you getting into the inner-loop. Then if you get a great run out of the carousel, you can stretch your lead and develop it through turns 10 and 11 onto the front straightaway. A lot of speed at Watkins Glen. There’s no real slow corner like there’s a bunch of at Infineon. Once you have a fast car, it just adds to all the corners where you can build up speed and build up that speed.”
HAVE YOU EVER REALIZED THAT YOU AND JEFF GORDON ARE ASTROLOGICAL TWINS SHARING THE SAME BIRTHDAY? “We’ve always just joked with each other with “Happy Birthday”. The way that we’re seven-years apart is funny because Kyle (Busch) and I are seven-years apart. Over the years, we’ve learned we have the same birthday (date). Barack Obama, Roger Clemens, there’s quite a few guys on August 4th. You see a lot of competitive people that are Leos.”
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW PRACTICE WENT FOR YOU GUYS TODAY? “Practice went smooth for us this morning. We were second overall which means if it rains out tomorrow’s qualifying session, we’ll start (the race) second. It also means that if we do qualify, we’ll go out second from last which isn’t the greatest of news because qualifying starts at 10:00 a.m. We’ll see how the weather plays out. We just didn’t want to be caught without putting a good, fast lap down. As race trim progressed for us, we had a good top-10 car. Now we need to polish it up here in the final session if we want to be a race-winning car.”
By: dodge motorsports