Kurt Busch - No. 97 Sharpie/IRWIN Taurus (Qualified 3rd) TAKE US THROUGH QUALIFYING. "It's one of those laps where you don't know if you picked up speed because of the race track or you picked up speed because of the adjustments the crew...
Kurt Busch - No. 97 Sharpie/IRWIN Taurus (Qualified 3rd)
TAKE US THROUGH QUALIFYING.
"It's one of those laps where you don't know if you picked up speed because of the race track or you picked up speed because of the adjustments the crew made. It's difficult when you go that much quicker. We had some problems getting into turn one with bottoming out. We just gained so much speed down the front straightaway that the car took such a hard set going into one. I think we lost a little bit of time in turn one and then were able to gain back our speed through turns two and three coming back to the checkered. I didn't get to see the pace on how we were compared to Casey Mears, but he did a phenomenal job to qualify that fast on a track like today."
YOUR CONFIDENCE MUST BE HIGH.
"It's a wonderful feeling. I've never gotten a phone call from the president of Irwin Tools. He called me this week to thank me. I figured he was ready to fire me after all the efforts that we've put together with the Irwin Industrial Tools car versus our Sharpie car, but it's all Newell Rubbermaid. It's all one big company and it's great to be able to showcase two primary sponsors throughout the year and to give our sponsors opportunities to earn the money and to rank themselves higher up in the world Fortune 500."
ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT THE TOP 10 WHEN YOU GO TO THE TRACK?
"This is the season where you start to see tracks for the second time and we're able to apply more knowledge to this new tire and to the aerodynamic changes that we keep making to our cars. Mark Martin had a great car here last time at Pocono, so we modeled this car after his. Our teammates are the best source of information and that's all we can do to run better. We don't necessarily look at the competition, but we know if we do slip up, we're gonna be in a hurtful situation. So we look at it as we're sixth in points. We're 50 ahead of 10th. We're 150 ahead of the 11th-place guy. That's this week. Next week we've got to add up the numbers. The only thing I know that we've made an adjustment for is that car we took to New Hampshire last week. We were able to win with it and now we've got a car cover over it until we go to New Hampshire again. But if we need it, if we are in a position where we might fall out of the top 10 on that 26th race at Richmond, that's a track that comparable to New Hampshire, we'll bring that car to Richmond to try to make sure that we get into the top 10. So we have made one adjustment, but we still have to make sure that we run each week. Indianapolis is the same as Pocono. Watkins Glen is the same as Michigan and then we've got Bristol and California - tracks that we've won on - that are up ahead of us. So we've got a good schedule, but we still have to do the same thing we've done year round, which is run hard every week."
TALK ABOUT WATKINS GLEN AND MICHIGAN?
"They fall together in the schedule and they're about four or five weeks out, so we've got those cars right now sitting on the surface plate - which aerodynamic way do we head with them? Obviously our Bristol car, we're not gonna touch it. I was just grouping tracks together that we're looking forward to building our cars and showing up at the race track."
DO YOU FEEL YOU'RE ON THE VERGE OF BREAKING THROUGH HERE AT POCONO?
"This was by far our best qualifying effort that we've ever had. I asked a media member on how our best qualifying effort was previous to today and we were eighth, so to be five spots better on the grid, that's gonna give us a great opportunity to lead laps and to make sure that we get the bonus points that we can get. Then to look forward to the end of the race, you've got to continue to adjust on the car all day and starting up front it helps you, I believe, keep up with the chance of running up front. Having that nose up in the clean air, instead of being marred in traffic all day, it helps you make adjustments for the car when it's time to lay down some lap times."
DO YOU HAVE A LEGITIMATE SHOT AT THE TITLE WITH THE 24 AND 48?
"This new program has created a lot of intensity between the group of cars that is from sixth to 15th and once we clear out the guys that are 11th back to 15th, it'll be the top 10 that have the animosity between one another. Whether breaks and give-and-take is gonna happen on the race track, whose to say? We can go into Loudon sixth in points, hopefully that will be the cushion that we have, and we'll have a clean slate. If we win the race and a few guys have a bad day, boom, we're leading the points. So it can go up and down. That's the rollercoaster NASCAR wanted to create with this final 10-race shootout and it's gonna be that way. It's a playoff series. You've got to make sure you come away with the best of seven everytime you show up, so you can advance to the next track."
IS THE RACING MORE AGGRESSIVE THIS YEAR?
"I think I've seen two different types of racing. Early on in the season, guys would have a bad day. We got dumped at Talladega and it was kind of like no big deal. We wrecked a guy. We've got to build the best car we can for when we go back to the next plate track and it was kind of like ho-hum. We lost some points. But as long as we stay within the top 10 that's the key point. Right now we're sixth and we don't have much of a cushion, but if we were to have a bad day right now, it wouldn't feel the same. It would obviously be different. Whether it was an intentional bump or whether it was accidental, you just have to roll with all the different circumstances that come your way. Early in the year, it would be easy to deal with them. Right now, it's not that easy to deal with them if you have a bad day."
IS THIS A TRACK YOU JUST SURVIVE?
"This is a race track just as any other - handing out 180 points at the end of the day. It's a fantastic looking trophy and the facility here is a track that you want to win on just as any other. It is a bit treacherous at certain points. In the beginning of the race, obviously, when the cars are bunch up. Probably halfway through when there are a lot of marbles just off the racing line. If you have to make a pass going low into turn two - the tunnel turn - you can get your tires dirty and get in trouble. So that's the same thing you see at any other race track. This one isn't any different, it's just one of those cool race tracks that has three different corners and you have to negotiate all three."
HOW PHYSICALLY DEMANDING IS THIS TRACK FOR 500 MILES?
"I wouldn't shy away from running 400 miles here and having them hand out points at the end of 400 miles. It's a long race. If you add up the amount of time that would be the minimum amount of time, we run 53-second lap times. There are 200 laps, so that adds up to be almost 200 minutes worth of racing action. Add it up at New Hampshire, where we run 23 seconds for 300 laps and it's not quite as long a duration. So this race challenges your body's fatigue and if you can last that full distance - the 450-mile marker to 500 is the toughest one to last because your tire run is gonna be that full stretch. You've got to make sure you're on your game all day."