KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT COMING BACK TO TEXAS FOR THE SECOND TIME THIS YEAR? "We're really looking forward to a good weekend with the Miller Lite Dodge. We have a special campaign that Miller is...
KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT COMING BACK TO TEXAS FOR THE SECOND TIME THIS YEAR? "We're really looking forward to a good weekend with the Miller Lite Dodge. We have a special campaign that Miller is promoting with Operation Homefront, a Texas-based program, where we're supporting our veterans from around the area. And, so with Veterans Day around the corner and Texas obviously is the race this weekend the promotion really kicks off. We're having a good time with that. We ran really strong last weekend at Atlanta, a similar mile and a half style racetrack. So, we're looking for big things this weekend. Each time that I've raced here and finished on the lead lap it's been eleventh or better, so we are looking to try break through into victory lane this time.
PENSKE WAS TALKING ABOUT POSSIBLY SWITHCING POINTS BETWEEN YOU AND HORNISH AND HAVING YOU USE A PAST CHAMPIONS PROVISIONAL IN 2008? "I don't think he actually said it. I think it's been just media speculation and so therefore there is probably not much truth to it. So, I don't know where it stands. I have reached out for Roger and I am sure I will run into him this weekend to see what the actual truth is. That would be great if a teammate could do that for a teammate. But yet it's a decision I think NASCAR would ultimately have to decide for us 'cause it usually just doesn't happen that way.
WHAT KIND OF AN IMPACT HAS THE COT HAD ON THE SEASON? HAS IT CHANGED ANYTHING? "Well, there is the competition side that I think has been advantage Hendrick so to speak. Those guys have really hit the car right where it needed to be hit. They've had a hot spot and that's what's propelled Gordon and Johnson to the points lead. So, those two guys have been the tough guys to beat all year and I think the Car of Tomorrow has helped their program and it's up to the other teams to slow them down and catch up to where they are.
"Safety-wise I think the car has been incredible and as far as the tech inspection process, as far as how they run their templates and how the teams are equal with their body styles, I think that has come into play. There are still some things that can need to be adjusted on the car, mainly the splitter. The front splitter height needs to be adjusted and I think if you asked all the teams in the garage area 99 percent of them would say to raise that thing up an inch and that would aid in making the car more drivable and put on a better race. So, that is one thing I hope NASCAR takes into consideration during the off-season to help the whole process of making the sport a better sport."
ALONG THOSE SAME LINES, WILL THIS CAR DO AS NASCAR INTENDED TO LEVEL OUT THE PLAYING FIELD? "I hope it does. I hope it creates an environment to where new teams can run competitive if they hit on the setup just right. You know, I watched at the Atlanta test, this past week with the COT, that Bill Davis Racing had some cars in the top ten; that Red Bull was running strong competitive lap times. So, that is what we want to see is those teams that are cracking their way in this sport be competitive on a select weekend. It's tough for them to do it week in and week out but you want to see these dark horse teams pop up more often and I hope that is what the car does."
HOW IS THE DRIVING IN THE CHASE DIFFERENT FOR DRIVERS IN THE CHASE VERSUS THE REGULAR SEASON? "I think that it's a proven system that now has a comfort level amongst everybody. Whether it's the teams, the fans, the sponsor, everybody has found what this program for the Chase for the Cup means and that is to race hard, go for wins as well as you have to been consistent still to win a championship. You have to run competitive week in and week out. I think that sponsors really enjoy the regular season and the way that you lock yourself into a Chase now means a successful season. So, you cannot even win a race, like Clint Bowyer did, to get into the Chase and have it considered a successful season. So, that makes it a bit nerving through the regular season that you have to make this Chase. And, with the way you have to race during the Chase, race wins still count but consistency is still the one that is going to win the championship. It hasn't really changed the way the drivers drive. You just have to have a little bit better luck in the first 26 races to have it considered to be a successful season."
CAN YOU EXPLAIN THE RECORD OF THE 48 IN THE CHASE? "I think that some of the tracks we run in the spring are the same tracks that we run in the fall, so the summer months seem to be where he struggles a little bit. But, the 48 car doesn't struggle hardly anywhere. But, when you run tracks that you race the first part of the year, and then the last part of the year, that just makes you strong at the beginning and strong at the end. I think it's just the racetracks seem to fit his style whether it's Martinsville that you race in the spring and the fall are better for him than at Pocono that you race both in the summertime. I think it is interesting that different drivers find different niches at different tracks?
DOES PHOENIX CHANGE MUCH FROM THE SPRING TO THE FALL? "I think the track is fairly similar from the spring race to the fall; usually temperatures are high 80's low 90's and I think that is what we're going to have this time around. The way that the race is in the spring, because you race at night, it races a bit more of a night time atmosphere. Where in the fall it's daytime but still the track conditions are about the same. The Car of Tomorrow, the cars will be much more advanced. That was only, I believe, our third race with the COTs. Now we've got 15 under out belt. So, with this final race being out at Phoenix and the COT a lot of teams will have their cars more competitive and it should be a better race.
IF YOU HAD TO GRADE THE CAR OF TOMORROW IN IT'S FIRST WHAT GRADE WOULD YOU GIVE IT? "I think that a college football coach could probably answer that question the best and what I mean by that is you have to talk positive about it. You have to feel positive about it. Even though you are the home team and let's just say USC's football team is coming in to play you and you haven't beaten them in 12 years in your own home stadium, you have to pump up your players and you have to pump up your team about how you can mentally get an advantage over them and feel like you've got everything you need to win this game or win this race. And, I think that's what our job needs to be, whether you are a driver, an owner NASCAR does it and I think the media needs to jump aboard with it to help with the overall success of NASCAR and that is to accept this car and to say that it is the future of our sport. And, anything that is out there that's wrong with the car needs to be addressed, needs to be talked about, in a positive manner because this is what we have. It is what it is.
"To answer your question, it hasn't gotten an A+, no by no means. It hasn't failed. It's been surprising at some tracks and disappointing at others. So, I would say it's gotten a better than average grade, maybe a B, a B-. The races were great with the finishes at Martinsville, the finishes at Phoenix, it seemed liked the first four or five finishes with the car were side by side. Bristol, my little brother won and Jeff Burton was beating on his back bumper. The way that the car raced at Talladega was surprising. I think there could be a few adjustments to help with the draft at a bigger racetrack because the side draft just didn't seem to come into play. Plenty of things to praise the car about; plenty of things to add to it that could be a little better, but I would give it an overall B, B-, for its debut. If they just went into it cold turkey and said 'here you go' that might have been a better way to do it, but we'll find it next year when that happens."
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE PROSPECT OF VEGAS GETTING A SECOND DATE? "I have no idea, what does that mean?
BRUTON BUYS NEW HAMPSHIRE WITH ONE OF THE DATES GOING TO VEGAS? Is that what's going on? I though he was moving the racetrack from Charlotte. Is that still going on? Oh, So Bruton is in the news, okay, but we're here in Texas. That would be exciting. That would be interesting. New Hampshire has a great fan base. They sell out that racetrack every year we go up there. The Northeast loves their NASCAR. I would hope that racetrack keeps at least one date. I would like to see us go to a lot of racetracks just once a year and maybe trim the schedule down, but that'll never happen. But, it'll make every race that's at their racetrack more important and drivers will feel more excited about winning each race; to do it when there is only one win that you can get at a track each year. But, Vegas would start off in the Chase. It would be a little warm out there the first of September. I don't know all of it is speculation.
"Vegas deserves two dates but I am under the (opinion) that we should try to race every racetrack once that way a track like Kentucky Speedway gets a date, Nashville gets a date, you would race Daytona twice I am sure. But, every racetrack deserves to have a race date. Fans up in the Midwest are dying for their NASCAR and Iowa Speedway is a great racetrack that deserves to be on the schedule. But, a little bit of politics here or there and it all might work out. I think Chris Powell and Las Vegas Motor Speedway deserve a second date."
HOW LOUD WOULD YOU AND THE OTHER DRIVERS COLLECTIVELY GROAN IF THE SCHEDULE WERE EXPANDED TO A 37TH DATE? "Yeah, I don't think we have much choice in the matter. You would either do it or you would whine about it. With all the different speculations that are heading our way only time will tell on what we have to actually do; so there is no sense in trying to get into an uproar beforehand."
-credit: dodge motorsports