KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) YOU'RE A FORMER WINNER HERE AT POCONO; WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR PRACTICE TODAY AND THE RACE TOMORROW? "It's always good to come to Pocono with some of the success that I've had here; just the...
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
YOU'RE A FORMER WINNER HERE AT POCONO; WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR PRACTICE TODAY AND THE RACE TOMORROW? "It's always good to come to Pocono with some of the success that I've had here; just the challenges that Pocono always presents on which corner (the Turns) is most important. Is it Turn 1? Turn 2? Turn 3? Each year we come back, there are slight rule changes and sometimes in this case, it's double-file re-starts. And then again, it's all about putting down the best horsepower that you can build to get down these long straightaways. It's a good feeling. Right now, our team has some fresh ideas that we want to try. Yesterday was a bummer that we didn't get on track to try some of those things; it just seems like you're always working from behind after a rain-shortened session gets away from you. I'm anxious to get in the car. These next couple of weeks are important to us with how we can get the car to handle on these big two-and-a-half and two-mile tracks since we haven't been to this style of track in a while. It just presents a few questions and we hope to get those answered in today's practice and then we'll have to see how the strip they layed down last year in Turn 3...that asphalt groove they layed down... comes into play and what the double-file re-starts will bring us going down into Turn 1 each time. I don't think it will present much of an issue. The outside groove may be the preferred groove."
WITH WHERE YOU ARE IN THE POINTS, ARE YOU ABLE TO TAKE SOME CHANCES THAT OTHER GUYS WHO ARE NINTH, 10TH, 11TH, 12TH WON'T BE ABLE TO? "I think it's irrelevant on where you are in points and who you're re-starting next too. You always have to keep track of who is starting next to you. At a track like (Pocono) this weekend, with all the points' runners running up front this weekend, a track like Michigan next week, you'll have surprises from guys who are running 18th to 25th in points, like a guy such as Montoya, he's very fast at those tracks. Then when we go to the road courses, we're going to have our hands full with different guys running up front. You're going to have those double-file re-starts, we've never had double-file re-starts at road courses, and we've always been single-file lines. So this weekend will be great to work the bugs out of the new system. Michigan will be another test because we'll see more guys get a lap down at Michigan than we will at Pocono. And then, when we get to the road course, I don't think we'll see anybody a lap down. We'll see them side-by-side for re-starts and that's going to be very exciting, but it could be frustrating at times."
HOW DOES NASCAR DRAW THE LINE OF WHAT CAN BE A GOOD PROCEDURAL CHANGE AND SOMETHING THAT MIGHT JUST BE GIMMICKY AND CONTRIVED? "I think that everybody in the garage area, drivers, owners, crew members are in favor of double-file re-starts. I think that we've seen its positive results in the Camping World West Series and Camping World East Series. We saw that result in the (Sprint) All-Star race where you have guys double-file and it produces great re-starts. The concept came from everybody aboard. The fans ultimately can receive the benefit of saying that they were the ones in charge (contributed to NASCAR's rule change) because we want to make the right decisions to create more excitement for them to watch. Where do we draw the line? I think the line has to be drawn where everybody has to agree on it and I don't think a 500-mile race would be appropriate if we threw a caution with 20 laps to go just to bunch the field up for more excitement at the end (of the race). I think pit strategy always comes into play. I think Dover was a really exciting race even though it didn't have a mandatory caution at the end of the race. What it did was create an element for some guys who were on two tires, some were on four (tires), some even stayed out. We're going to see that mix even more so in this day in age when it's so difficult to pass.
That strategy, when it comes into play, if we had a mandatory caution with 20 (laps) to go would really throw it (strategy) out the window. It's tough to draw the line. We're in an entertainment business, a racing business; I would like to beat the next guy by three laps if I could. That doesn't happen this day and age. We have close, competitive racing. We rarely see a guy win a race by more than a second and that's the competition we want to see on the track."
IT'S PRETTY OBVIOUS YOU'RE GOING TO MAKE THE CHASE, AT WHAT POINT DO YOU START TO PREP FOR THOSE LAST 10 RACES? "Nothing is a gimme. You can never count you chickens before they hatch because of the fact that 190 points available every race. Things can swing pretty quick. Yeah, we have a comfortable cushion on 12th-place, my PR guy writes about that all the time. I hate looking at 12th-place. I like looking at first (place). What can we do to be better prepared heading into the Chase? If we can win some races, we would have the extra 10 bonus points, so that's on the docket. Let's try to win some races, get some points built up when the Chase starts. The time that we had a successful campaign in the Chase in 2004, we saved some cars. We didn't take the car we wanted to run at Loudon to Richmond. We saved it for Loudon. So those are the questions that will start to come up. We still have a long summer stretch with two races at Pocono and Michigan in there. We have two road courses, head back to Daytona, plenty of races for things to happen and help us develop to get stronger. We just have to look at where we can go and test for some of the short-tracks. Right now we're scheduled for the Indy tire test in two weeks. That will be a big information gatherer. It's really one race at a time, but you do have to think in advance, it's just a bit too early."
WHAT MAKES FOR A GOOD RE-START? WHY ARE SOME GUYS BETTER AT THEM THAN OTHERS? "That's going to be a disappointing thing that's been taken away; the ability to be the leader and to take-off at a different re-start point each time event though we're in a box of 90 to 120 feet. You just always want to keep the guy behind you on his toes and you want to try and break away, get those lapped cars in-between you and give yourself a cushion. Those things are gone now. The art of the re-start is to have really good gear ratios that match the tire grip to the race track. A track like Atlanta, you're never going to get the power layed down because you're going to be slipping the tire so much. A place like Pocono, you have good grip and good re-starts and you can put all the power down, you just have to have the right gear ratios. Now, you're a bit more vulnerable because the guy in front of you could miss a gear and you're not allowed to jump out of line. I think that drivers are going to be a bit more cautious on re-starts just so they don't run their front bumper into somebody and poke a hole in their radiator. That's always a concern when you have double-file re-starts."
HOW OPTIMISTIC SHOULD THE GUYS THAT ARE 13TH TO 17TH IN POINTS BE IN MAKING THE CHASE? "The guys that are still in reach (of the top 12) can feel really optimistic. Guys who have recently done well, maybe they had a few races in the beginning of the year that has set them back, are able to run well each week and consistently, they should feel real confident that they can bump their way back in. I'd have to have a (points) list in front of me to see the top 12 and to see who's in and who could slide out. It's difficult though. You can have a group of races where you have everything right and you finish 20th each of those races and you'll see yourself slide back in the points pretty quick. It just comes down to consistency. I think it's the guys who have been in it for a while or it's the team that has caught on to something new that can outrun the rest of the guys consistently each week who can make the Chase. That's what it's all about, consistency."
THERE ARE SO MANY GROOVES AT MICHIGAN, HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT FINDING THE RIGHT GROOVE THERE? "In practice at Michigan, you start out on the bottom of the race track and see if your car is hitting the front rubbers too hard or if it's not hitting them enough and make changes. Once practice starts to wind down, now the outside groove is starting to get burned-in a little bit, maybe even the third groove is starting to come in a little bit. You just don't want to be the first guys up there, normally there is some debris. If you run over something that puts a cut in your tire, it can set you back for the weekend if you're down a set of tires. Really, it's a patient game where you wait for the top of the race track and sometimes your car runs better, sometimes they really like the bottom. With NASCAR's gear rule, they give us a really conservative gear and that means that when we run up the race track to keep our momentum up top, the gear ratio matches the race track a little bit better. So that's why you really see it come into play during the race instead of during practice."
WITH LOSING YESTERDAY'S PRACTICE TO RAIN, DOES THAT PUT MORE URGENCY FOR TODAY? "The biggest thing that we'll be behind on is just qualifying practice for the next time that we come here in August. The other thing is that we usually like to take the first half-hour at every race track that we go to this year and use it as a test session and try some off-the-wall things that we learned from last week or that we've wanted to try, just off-the-wall (stuff). We're behind on just getting a few items off of our check list; we'll try those this morning."
HAVE YOU TALKED TO ROGER (PENSKE) ABOUT BUYING SATURN AND DOES THAT HAVE POTENTIAL OPPORTUNITIES FOR NASCAR DOWN THE ROAD? "I haven't talked to Roger on his business acquisition. When he does something, he usually has all his ducks in a row and things are very thought out and he has a process for doing such. Penske Auto Group, with the position that it's in, he's trying to build it up and anytime that he incorporates into his umbrella, you hope that and you know that he'll create success around it. I wish him the best of luck. Those cars (Saturn), when they were first introduced years and years ago...I don't know if it was the last 80s or 90s, it was interesting because I didn't know that they were under the GM umbrella for the first five or six years. Just learning from my dad, who was an auto mechanic, said that those cars were GM cars, I thought they were independent. So it will be interesting to see how that cycle comes back around."
-credit: dodge motorsports