Dodge Motorsports Notes & Quotes - Kurt Busch Open Interview - Indy
July 29, 2011 , INDIANAPOLIS - Friday, July 29, 2011
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Dodge Motorsports PR
Kurt Busch Open Interview
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
KURT BUSCH (No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger R/T)
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT RACING AT INDY?
“It’s a great way to kick off the second part of the season with Indianapolis and the (Sprint) Summer Showdown to put the excitement and the value of what these races mean now heading into the Chase. It’s important with $1 million up for grabs for your foundation, a $1 million for a fan and $1 million for the race team as well. It’s a unique way to give back to the fans and that old heritage of that “No Bull” atmosphere of ‘hey, we’re going out there for wins and for the cash as well.’
“Indianapolis, a very prestigious race. Everybody wants to win here. What we have to do this week, different from years past, is make better adjustments during the race to make sure that our car is dialed in for that last 40-lap run.”
DOES THE SUMMER SHOWDOWN TAKE AWAY FROM THE SPRINT ALL-STAR RACE?
“No, not at all. The All-Star race has its own prestigious value. Atlanta (Motor Speedway) seems to be the beneficiary of this because there’s going to be those five guys having the opportunity to go for the millions. It’s going to be interesting how Atlanta works out because it’s a tough 500-mile race and it could come down to a set of tires with eight laps to go. It’s going to be an exciting blend of how the eligible drivers can get in as well as that Atlanta race – and then we head to Richmond, which is the cutoff point for the Chase. Every race has its own value to it now.”
WITH ALL OF ROGER’S SUCCESS HERE AT INDY, DO YOU FEEL ADDED PRESSURE TO WIN AT INDY?
“Definitely. Roger is always excited about Indianapolis. The race team, everybody is just amps it up. Of course I want to win here at Indianapolis. To deliver that first (Indy) trophy on the Cup side is the optimum goal – to do that for Roger Penske here at Indianapolis.”
IS THERE PARITY IN THE CUP SERIES THIS SEASON?
“There’s been more this year than I’ve seen in year’s past with all the different winners that we’ve had. There have been a few guys with three wins, so you see different guys winning all the time. The strategy on how to win, it’s all changed. You can have a dominant car all day long and end up putting it in the trailer in seventh-place just because you didn’t use the right strategy at the end.”
WHAT KIND OF CHALLENGES WILL THE HEAT GIVE THE DRIVERS AND TEAMS THIS WEEKEND?
“It’s hot. It’s slick. You have to stay hydrated, stay focused and not wear yourself out through the practice sessions knowing Sunday is going to be warm, the track’s going to be greasy. It’s going to get rubbered-in throughout the weekend and that will make it slicker as well. You’ll see some big speeds for qualifying, but the pace is really going to fall off a bunch the way that the track gets slick in the daytime heat.”
WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO RACE AT LUCAS OIL RACEWAY?
“It’s one of those cool tracks that I grew up watching “Thursday Night Thunder” on ESPN. The way that they put those sprint cars and midgets out on that track showed the true roots of grassroots racing on the Saturday night level. Yeah, it was Thursday night, it was on TV, but it was that big stage for drivers to make their names. That’s what Indianapolis Raceway Park, O’Reilly Raceway Park means to me. Now it’s Lucas Oil Raceway. The way that the track helped guide a lot of drivers into the paths of their careers, it’s one of those tracks that create those cool memories.”
HAS YOUR TEAM COME INTO INDY ANY MORE CONFIDENT SINCE BEING AT PENSKE?
“This is our best shot at it. But, yet, you can’t expect to do well if you don’t go out there and do the basics. I look at it as a great opportunity to start off our second half with a brand new car, with a brand new program underneath us right now. The best feeling is that we don’t have to worry about points. I’ve come here a lot of years fifth-to-10th in points and you really have to get a solid finish. It’s going to be great to go out there not holding back.”
WHY DOES IT MATTER SO MIUCH TO WIN AT INDY?
“It’s a prestigious track; the history here, the prestige of winning and celebrating with that trophy. For me at Penske Racing, doing it for Roger is that much more special. Daytona is our top track; this is No. 2. Charlotte is big. Bristol is big. There are big tracks all throughout the year. A win at Pocono next week is no bigger than winning here at Indy. It’s a win that counts.”
WHAT’S KEY TO RUN WELL AT POCONO NEXT WEEKEND?
“It’s a very universal setup, one that can get through the bumps in Turn 1 and one that can carry speed in Turn 3. I think the tunnel turn is the most important in trying to gain lap time. It’s really a tough place to get a perfect setup; you have to compromise a lot.”
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE TURN?
“The tunnel turn. If you hit it just right, you slip through there so fast you don’t even realize that you went through there.”
WAS BRINGING BACK SHIFTING TO POCONO A GOOD THING?
“I thought it was great. You have more options as a driver. When you have more options as a driver, you feel like you have more control as a driver during the race and you don’t get as frustrated when things aren’t going smooth.”
CAN YOU ASSESS THE STRENGTH OF YOUR TEAM RIGHT NOW? IS IT THE BEST CHANCE THAT YOU’VE HAD TO WIN A CHAMPIONSHIP AT PENSKE?
“We had a great run in ’09 and that’s what this season reminds me of. Just with the consistency that we’ve had, the quality of qualifying efforts and the ability to find solid finishes at the end of the race. What we need to do is turn those solid finishes into great quality finishes. A perfect example is the last two weeks with Kentucky and Loudon. We were running fourth when we took the white flag and we came home ninth and 10th. (Loudon) we ran out of fuel, the other we just go passed by a bunch of guys on the last lap. Those are the days that you say, ‘man, if I could have those 11 points back, I’d be leading the points right now.’ That’s what it takes to win the championship; you can’t give points away on those final few segments of the race.”
ARE YOU SURPRISED THAT NOBODY HAS DOMINATED THE SEASON ON THE CUP LEVEL SO FAR THIS SEASON?
“It’s interesting. Carl could probably be the easiest, or Kyle (Busch). I think Carl and Kyle have shown the most strength. (Jimmie) Johnson struggled early on and now look at them, they’re third in points and right there in the mix. There’s no dominant front-runner right now and I think that’s what makes the races more exciting, when you can’t pick a favorite.”
ARE WE EVER GOING TO SEE SOMEONE DOMINATE A SEASON, WIN 15 RACES?
“It’s a tough question to answer because we’ve watched the same guy hoist the trophy the last five years in a row. Days of just trying to make it to the finish are over. Cars, quality, technology, we all can do that. We saw my little brother win eight races. Carl Edwards won eight or nine races in one year. I think those days are behind us. I really do. Even eight (wins) is going to be a tough number to achieve.”