Dearborn, MI (July 11, 2000)- With his most recent win at New Hampshire, Kurt Busch became the only rookie in NASCAR history other than Tony Stewart to win back-to-back races. Kurt and the entire No. 99 Exide team head into this weeks race at ...
Dearborn, MI (July 11, 2000)- With his most recent win at New Hampshire, Kurt Busch became the only rookie in NASCAR history other than Tony Stewart to win back-to-back races. Kurt and the entire No. 99 Exide team head into this weeks race at Nazareth Speedway like hot lava running down the side of a volcano; ever changing and adapting while moving, but solid as a rock in the end.
Matt Chambers, Crewchief
IT SEEMS LIKE IN THE LAST THREE YEARS YOUR THREE DRIVERS; JOE RUTMAN, MIKE BLISS, AND KURT BUSCH HAVE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES. WHAT IS IT LIKE?
"Yeah, they all have completely different personalities. I learned a lot from Joe (Ruttman). He really taught me a lot of things since he has been racing so long and I am so young. I was able to apply that knowledge to working with Mike (Bliss) and we were able to get one win together and a few really strong runs in there. Then this year with Kurt has been a combination of my first two years and what I learned and we've been able to get Kurt into the Winner's Circle a couple of times already."
IT SEEMS LIKE THE ENTIRE #99 EXIDE TEAM IS COMPRISED OF UNDER THIRTY YEAR OLD GUYS AND KURT IS ONLY 21. WHAT IS IT LIKE WORKING WITH THIS YOUNG GROUP OF PEOPLE?
"Yeah, that's correct. We've got a lot of really young guys on our team. They really have a lot of energy. The only drawback is that it takes a lot of time to get them up to speed and get them trained to where you are able to rely on them. It is obviously working though. I think that we've really got a good team now and it's beginning to show with our results. Especially in the last two races."
WERE YOU SURPRISED WHEN YOU WERE GIVEN THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF THE #99 TEAM?
"Yeah, I was surprised. You know I worked under Randy Goss for a few years with Joe (Ruttman) and he taught me a lot of what I know now. At the time, we had three trucks we were going to run but we could only get sponsors for two of them so we had to consolidate the three teams down into two. That's when Randy (Goss) went to crew chief the #50 truck and I was offered the position of crew chief on the #99 truck."
TELL US WHAT IT'S LIKE TO WORK WITH KURT. HE CAME INTO THE SERIES, LIKE GREG BIFFLE, WITH NO EXPERIENCE ON RADIAL TIRES OR IN A TRUCK. WERE THERE ANY TREPIDATIONS WITH THIS YOUNG KID COMING IN THAT HAD A LOT OF GOOD CREDENTIALS BUT LITERALLY NO EXPERIENCE?
"Yeah, definitely. Going into the season I think we all expected a rookie season similar to what Biffle had. We've done way better than I expected and we are having a really good time this year. Kurt is real easy to work with and he learns the tracks very quickly. It usually takes him about ten laps or so before he is ready to start making changes on the truck. It's made me feel a lot better and feel a lot more confident as a team with a driver that can show our results."
YOU GUYS HAD A GREAT RACE HERE LAST YEAR WITH A 1-2 FINISH FOR ROUSH RACING. YOU MUST HAVE A NOTEBBOK FULL OF GOOD STUFF FOR THIS WEEKEND; DO YOU THINK THAT IT WILL BE AN ADVANTAGE HERE WITH KURT?
"I think that it's definitely a benefit. We've had a pretty good package to run at the mile tracks so far this year. The times have changed a little bit and the competition has stepped up quite a bit so that requires some changes in the set-up. Biffle gets around the Nazareth speedway really good so hopefully we can hook up with him a little and learn the lines and rub on our set-up a little bit and be right there."
FORD IS CURRENTLY ON A FIVE-RACE WINNING STREAK, WHICH IS THEIR OWN HIGH WATER MARK IN THE SERIES. WITH THIS WEEKS RACE BEING SPONSORED BY THE COMPETITION, DOES IT MAKE YOU GUYS WANT TO GO AFTER THE RECORD THAT MUCH MORE?
"No, not really. We look at every weekend the same, it doesn't really matter who the sponsor is. You want to do the best you can every weekend. If you get a win, you get a win. We'd like to go out and beat our mark we set last year of ten wins, so that's one of the things that we have set out to get."
Kurt Busch, Driver
NOW THAT YOU'VE HAD A LITTLE BIT OF TIME TO THINK ABOUT THESE PAST 8 OR 10 DAYS, TELL US WHAT YOU THINK?
"It was really a quick week for us after Milwaukee. To pick up the second win right in a row made it tough for the first one to really sink in. But now that we have this second one and I keep getting the e-mails and calls from all of the people I was associated with in Las Vegas when I was racing there, it's really starting to sink in. It's great. It's a great feeling. I love to win races, it's what I've done before and it just takes commitment and getting the right set-up under the truck. Roush Racing continues to give me the awesome equipment and the team just keeps getting better and better."
AT THE POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE JACK ROUSH SAID QUITE CANDIDLY THAT HE DIDN'T EXPECT YOU GUYS TO WIN A RACE THIS YEAR AND TO BEND UP A FEW MORE TRUCKS THAN YOU HAVE. IT'S CERTAINLY GREAT TO GET A VOTE OF CONFIDENCE FROM THE BOSS AFTER YOU'VE PROVED HIM WRONG.
"Yeah, he's not one that's quick to give compliments either. He likes to tell you when you didn't do so well, so I was surprised to hear that from him. We've really built a great relationship that started at Daytona and has grown from there. What more can you ask for than to get advice from Jack Roush?"
YOU'RE ON A GREAT RUN RIGHT NOW, GIVE US YOUR FEELINGS ON MAKING A RUN AT THE CHAMPIONSHIP STILL THIS YEAR AS WE HEAD INTO THE LATTER THIRD OF THE 2000 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN TRUCK SEASON.
"It could be a possibility. It's all about making the race trucks as good as we can. Really our team has come together over these past five races. Their calling card might have been Kentucky. I think that I clearly had the best truck there and had a shot at winning my first race at an inaugural event and we came up really short there. It really smacked me down and made me realize that we had to get back to our original game plan at the beginning of the season. To run a little bit smoother pace and think a little bit before we make decisions. Once I did that, the crew has been doing that and everything has just clocked perfectly since then."
HAS IT BEEN DIFFICULT TO GO TO ALL OF THESE NEW RACETRACKS AND RUN WELL? YOU SEEM TO ADAPT TO A NEW TRACK SO QUICKLY.
"There are only four of the tracks on the series this year that I have been to before. We have got just a quick short practice session on Friday before we qualify. We've got our game plan set up just like we do at a lot of the other racetracks; to get out there and get as much track time as we can. Nazareth Speedway is a very unique racetrack. It reminds me a lot of a track that I raced on a few times back in the Southwest, so I've got that as experience. I've also got the great experience of Matt Chambers with the set-ups. They are real conservative when we start the weekend and get more aggressive as we go through so that we are able to run up front in the race."
MATT (CHAMBERS) TALKED ABOUT HIS SURPRISE IN THE QUICK SUCCESS THAT YOU HAVE HAD THIS SEASON, ARE YOU AT ALL SURPRISED?
"It really is quite surprising. I don't think anyone had any idea that we would be this successful after Biffle's rookie season. There was some things that he did wrong that I have had the chance to learn from. From watching TV to working closely with the team, it all comes down to experience. From the guy that puts the decals on the truck all the way to Rich Rikenbach, who has been here 20 years, it all comes down to experience."
WITH ALL OF THE RUMORS FLOATING AROUND ABOUT YOU DRIVING THE #97 WINSTON CUP CAR NEXT YEAR IS IT AFFECTING YOU AT ALL AND WILL IT AFFECT YOU LATER ON IN THE SEASON?
"I'll tell you what this has done for me. Just the fact that I have been considered for this is really giving me a giant confidence boost. That's probably what has contributed to a lot of our success in the last five races and hopefully on into the future. Being one of the candidates, if they choose me, will be a tough road to go but I think that I'm ready for it and we can put together a package where there would be extensive testing and things like that to help me out."
THEY SAY THAT THE TRUCKS ARE A LOT MORE LIKE THE WINSTON CUP CARS THAN A BUSCH CAR. WOULD YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE MAKING THAT JUMP AFTER ONLY ONE YEAR IN THE TRUCKS?
"Yeah, as far as a race car drivers standpoint it would be a logical jump. There are a lot of different steps in between from the Busch to Winston Cup. But to get back to where I'm from, racing cars with the greater downforce package, it's more comfortable to drive the cars than the trucks at the big super-speedways. It would be more comforting to me, but when we have an odd day in the trucks we can still finish well. An odd day in a Winston Cup car will put you twentieth. It's a tough road to go."
HAS JACK ROUSH GIVEN ANY INDICATION AS TO THE FACTORS THAT WILL DETERMINE IF YOU WILL GET THE WINSTON CUP RIDE NEXT SEASON?
"No, he hasn't talked to me that much. It's just mostly things that I have gathered form talk around the shop. He hasn't actually talked to me about it at all. The President of Roush Racing, Jeff Smith, has talked with me a little bit. Jack has been really busy, but he's going to make the call. We all know Jack, he's made crazy decisions before but they all seem to work out in the end."
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT HOW YOUR RELATIONSHIP CAME ALONG WITH ROUSH RACING AND WAS IT SURPRISING TO YOU AT ALL THAT YOU HAVE ENDED UP WHERE YOU ARE?
"It's been very surprising this far, racing in the Southwest series before the truck series. We have come a long way very quick and it's really turned into a great success story so far with just the way that the team has come together. We were basically a brand new team at the beginning of the season and we've come together really quick."
HOW BIG OF A RACE WAS DAYTONA AS FAR AS A CONFINDENCE STANDPOINT FOR THE REST OF THE SEASON?
"Really Daytona was such an awkward race for me. I felt like I was getting thrown into a great big ocean with a bunch of sharks out there. It was tough to learn the draft, to learn the series, and to learn the other drivers. There really wasn't much expected of me in that race. I think that the expectations came from the next few races. It was really the awesome Roush Racing equipment that got me through and got me the great finish that we had and hopefully will continue to have."