KURT BUSCH (No. 2 MILLER LITE DODGE AVENGER) WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THE RACE ON SUNDAY? "We always enjoying coming out to the west coast, to my favorite county -- Maricopa and seeing my good friends. It's great to be back, love the short track...
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 MILLER LITE DODGE AVENGER)
WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THE RACE ON SUNDAY? "We always enjoying coming out to the west coast, to my favorite county -- Maricopa and seeing my good friends. It's great to be back, love the short track atmosphere here at Phoenix. We've got a different type of setup in our COT this weekend, shooting for anything we can find as far as some ideas that will lead us into next year. We prepared for this race with a test at Iowa Speedway. We felt like that has paid dividends thus far and we're shooting for victory lane. Being ninth in points, there's nothing better than a bump up in points than a race win. So we're pushing hard with the Miller Lite Dodge.
IS SAM HORNISH TAKING A HUGE RISK MOVING FROM OPEN WHEEL TO NASCAR? "It's yet to be determined what will happen and how it will play out. He has accomplished, Sam Hornish Jr., has accomplished quite a bit in his IRL career via a three-time champion and to have as many race wins and of course an Indy 500 crown. He's done incredible things and so we hope he's able to bring that success over to the stock car level, but this stock car thing is pretty tough. I don't think it should be taken for granted that this is easy to do even though we are having an onslaught of open wheel drivers heading our way. Montoya has made it look like it's something that people can do, but it is much tougher than it looks. So, I think Montoya has done a good job for what he has done this season. I'm looking forward to helping Sam in getting him up to speed and to racing against him for race wins as quick as we can at Penske."
ARE YOU AND YOUR TEAM, NOW THAT YOU ARE OUT OF THE CHAMPIONSHIP HUNT, WORKING NOW ON NEXT YEAR? "We've finished well the last couple of races, seventh and eighth I think. It would've been nice to do that at the beginning of the Chase and still have a legitimate shot at winning this championship. But, we took a big blow at Charlotte where we dropped down to seven cylinders and finished 28th or 29th or something like that and at that point we were over 300 points out. It's kind of like, well the pace the Jimmie and Jeff are on this year we should just look forward to trying some new things and going for race wins. So, we've done that the last, I would say two races, maybe three."
WHEN YOU WON THE TITLE IN 2004, THE TWO GUYS THAT WERE RIGHT BEHIND YOU GOING INTO HOMESTEAD ARE THE SAME TWO GUYS THAT ARE ON TOP OF THE STANDINGS RIGHT NOW. DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT YOUR STRATEGIC APPROACH WAS TO THAT RACE? "The way that it all took shape was that we were 18 points ahead going into Homestead. That meant that we needed to finish right where they finished if we were going to win the Chase. It wasn't like we had a 50-point cushion or we were down by 30. We were up by 18, which was nice, that meant that I could finish right behind them and still win the championship. The way that we looked at it was hey this has been an unbelievable run, we've put ourselves in position for this; we have to be prepared to win it and we have to be prepared to lose it. That was our mindset and I thought that worked out pretty good having an 18 point cushion and prepared to do anything and to go through anything and we finished right behind them. I think Jimmie finished second, Jeff was fourth and we finished fifth and that gave us the opportunity to win the championship."
CAN YOU BE MORE SPECIFIC WHAT YOU ARE SEARCHING FOR ON THE COT THIS WEEKEND AND WHAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO COME OUT OF HERE KNOWING ABOUT IT? "I would just like to be able to keep pace with the Hendrick cars -- bottom line. Those guys they didn't even test at Atlanta. That was a bit odd to not to even see them there. They must have that good of a program to not worry about having to be at a test for 2008. We're trying to get the front end to turn. We're trying to get the rear end not to slide out from underneath us. We are just trying to make the car a bit more nimble. It's a bigger car. It has a higher center of gravity. We're trying to see if we can't make it react like a regular car."
WHEN YOU WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP IN 2004 THE PREVAILING VIEW GOING IN WAS YOU COULDN'T AFFORD TO MAKE MISTAKE. NOW THE VIEW IS EVERYONE CAN AFFORD TO MAKE A MISTAKE OR TWO. WHAT CONCLUSIONS CAN BE DRAWN FROM THOSE DIFFERING YEARS? "It just depends on who has the distinct advantage going in and right now Hendrick has had that. Everybody has talked about how it's been a boring Chase because it's only been two guys or that it's been a boring 2007 because those two guys have had a distinct advantage all year. It's up to the rest of us to keep up and make it a show for 2008. They haven't had their bad luck, like you said and so therefore that's why it is only a two horse race. If each of them would have a bad finish I think Clint Bowyer, you could throw his name right back in the mix. He really hasn't had a horrible race he just hasn't had the average finishes that Jimmie and Jeff have had. That's the bottom line; that's what it comes down to -- the average finish. If everybody in the second race has already had a horrible race and the average finish is 18 for everybody that's what makes it a good Chase. It only seems like those two guys have had the average finishes what it takes to win a championship this year."
HAS ROGER DECIDED IF HE IS GOING TO GIVE YOUR POINTS TO SAM IN 2008? "It hasn't been set in stone. It's merely speculation. I know we're a good program and everybody's on the same page. It will be discussed and it will be left up to the No. 2 car team to decide. You know, all of it, to me we have to focus on these next two races and Sam needs to do a good job with that as well; getting the Busch car in the race and getting the Cup car in the race and we'll see what happens in the off-season."
HOW MUCH DO YOU ANTICIPATE HELPING SAM HORNISH IN 2008? "Things just need to be in an open discussion and whether it's he approaching me or I'm going over there to get him out on the track beforehand. We talked earlier about Sam's IRL success and his three-time championships over there and what was odd to me is he had never been to Dover, he had never been to New Hampshire and he had never been to Charlotte. I started scratching my head. I thought the IRL had raced at Charlotte and Dover and New Hampshire, which they have, but they raced there a couple years before Sam had gotten there. So, it's amazing to me that he's cranked out three championships over there right away and what that leads me to believe is that he is quick to adapt, that he'll have the right approach and so it'll be a team discussion on who's going to help whom out. It sounds like if he gets on it he'll make these races and he'll be threat."
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO THIS OFF-SEASON AND DO YOU HAVE A PLACE TO RECHARGE YOUR BATTERIES, TO PUT IT ALL BEHIND YOU? "You're speaking like this is a bad year, to put it all behind us. It's really exciting, the month of November rolls around and you're like 'wow November 1st' and you're starting to put together off-season plans. Me and my wife will go on a nice week vacation to an island somewhere and just sink our toes in the sand; getaway like that. We're going to have Christmas at our house this year, so we'll have all of her family and my family together. I don't know if that's a relaxing time or not, but we'll have everybody there. The month of December I am going to throw in a couple extra test sessions just trying to make our team better and to try to make this 2008 season a championship-type effort."
CAN YOU ACCESS THE GRADE TO THE COT; HOW IT'S PERFORMED OVER THE YEAR AND WHAT DO YOU EXPECT FOR NEXT YEAR? "I would say you couldn't give the car an A and you can't fail it. It's been better than average at places and it didn't live up to potential at some other racetracks -- mainly Talladega. I thought the car would definitely have a better feel drafting-wise with the side-by-side type draft, but the nose to tail was there. So, there's some places it could have been better and where I think it exceeded expectations was its safety and it's durability. I had questions of durability on the front splitter or the tires. Maybe it's because we only raced it at short tracks this year and we didn't give it many racetracks with speed and we'll see that next year. Overall, I think a B- would be an appropriate grade for this car. The things that it brings to the driver, as far as safety, are nice and exceed our expectations. And so, it's just a continuation of what 2007 was with this car, which was building it up, working out the bugs and now 2008 you've got to be ready to run full-throttle with this thing because it will be there every week."
ASSUMING YOU ARE GOING TO WIN THIS WEEKEND, DO YOU WANT TO WIN AT THE LINE NOSE TO NOSE OR DOMINATE ALL DAY? "It's always exciting for the fans to be able to enjoy a race where this is side by side action and pit strategy involved and then there's time when you get to race and you have a good car like we had at Pocono and walk away from the field. That's always fun and exciting for one team. We hope that we've got a great Miller Lite Dodge that allows us to race up front. This racetrack you always have to race the track, but it's racy enough to where you can run side by side and have somebody catch you in the long run versus the short run. It's an exciting place. It deserves its spot in the Chase. It deserves to have two dates. I enjoy the Phoenix racetrack. It's a fun track. I hope it comes down to a side by side duel and I come out on top."
-credit: dodge motorsports