Saturday, June 12, 2010

Kurt Busch Comments Following Friday's Practice at Michigan

HOW WAS YOUR CAR IN THE FIRST PRACTICE? "I feel like things went good for us in practice. We managed our time right up against the window of when the rain came to maximize our race potential. We got one qualifying run in to make sure we were prepared. We ran most of our laps in race trim. The car felt comfortable. The track’s just not rubbered-in. It’s just not quite up to the point that it will be for Sunday’s race with more and more laps that need to be run on it. With the weather in question, we’ll see how it all plays out."

CAN YOU COMMENT ON BENEFITS OF BEING THE ONLY TEAM WITH ONE MANUFACTURER? "It’s great. The technology that crosses over between the race teams and production cars, it’s really neat to be part of that program. To walk through (Chrysler Tech Center) that facility, now being with Dodge for my sixth year, I almost know my way around that campus. It is special to be a program where we have all of our eggs in one basket. We are their factory team and they’re pulling for us like we’re part of the family."

YOU GUYS GET THE ADVANTAGE OF BEING THE SOLE TEAM GETTING ALL THE TECHNOOLOGY? "We have to work harder to make sure that we have the correct data that we need streaming both ways. With their wind tunnel and what they discover, we need to double-check it with ours. It’s cool because they have engineering-minded people there building production cars and assisting our race-car team. Then you have the engineering support of our race team supporting their needs and concerns. It’s unique to have the two worlds come together to push each other harder to build better products on the car and at the race track."

HOW HAVE YOU LEARNED TO DEAL WITH RUN-INS WITH OTHER DRIVERS ON THE TRACK? "Being a new guy, you don’t necessarily know how to handle all the situations. When you’re a new guy, you don’t get the benefit of the doubt. That’s where I’m at a mix with this whole scenario. I raced Jimmy Spencer early on in my career and I wasn’t supposed to be lipping off and sticking my neck out. Now it seems OK for somebody to do that. It’s amazing what 10 years in this sport can do. Not just on my side of it, but on how everything gets viewed. I don’t think that (Kevin) Harvick did anything terribly wrong. He was a veteran teaching a young kid a little bit of the ways of the world. That’s what a veteran did to me early on in my career and it helped to elevate my game pretty quick."

DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU’RE CAR IS BETTER THIS YEAR ON RESTARTS? "I feel like we have adequate power under the hood. What you need to compliment that power is what we call short-run speed. Your car has to be good on sticker tires and if you don’t have that, especially in this day in age with double-file restarts and green-white-checkers, if your car isn’t good on stickers you’re going to get run over and guys are going to pass you and (you will) find yourself in compromising situations. There’s always room to improve. One area that we feel like we’ve improved on is short-run speed, especially at Charlotte where we were able to win the All-Star race and have a good 20- to 30-lap car in the Coca-Cola 600. That ended up paying dividends for us by winning both of those races."

IS THERE ANY SENSE OF VINDICATION THAT PENSKE HAS STAYED WITH DODGE AND HAVING SUCCESS? "It’s special to be able to be the only group out there and have so much success. With the odds stacked up against you, you always feel like you’re running an uphill battle. With us and Dodge, Dodge and Penske, it’s a genuine respect for each other in knowing where we both stand. Whether it’s the competition side, contract side or engineering side, we’re working on it together. Anytime we come up to Detroit and race here in Michigan, we’re always pushing harder. It’s a nice balance knowing that those guys are working just as hard as we are. To come into this new (MIS) media center and see the different images on the wall, the Model-T line, I feel special that my Miller Lite Dodge is on the wall. Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Cale Yarborough on the wall, there’s a lot of heritage for all the manufacturers here in the Detroit area, especially at Michigan Speedway. We’re pushing hard. The Dodge group is our group. We’re pushing hard to win for them and sell on Monday."

FROM A COMPETITIVE STANDPOINT, WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE MORE DODGE’S IN CUP? "It’s hard for me to speak on the big, global plans for Dodge and all the brands. I do know that Ralph Gilles (Dodge, president and CEO) is very committed to our racing program. He’s a great guy. He’s real down to earth. He’s got some quick witted lines about him that you wouldn’t expect from a CEO. That’s the kind of guy that I look up too (smiles). The way that he runs the program, he’s very grounded and he knows that with the tough economic times that all the auto manufacturers are going through, we have to take one step at a time. Once we get through these next few quarters, I see more products being released. I see more excitement around the Dodge brand. When that happens and we see the sales, hopefully there’s going to be more opportunities to see more Dodge teams out there."

WHEN YOU WIN A ROAD COURSE EVENT, WILL YOU RUN A VICTORY LAP REVERSE? "We thought about it (laughs). If the race goes with a lot of green flag runs and there’s enough TV time left, I’ve thought about it. There’s a lot of blind corners going forward, I’m not sure what we’re going to do going backwards."

DO YOU FEEL PRETTY GOOD AS A ROAD COURSE RACER? "I still think that I can improve on the road course. Right now, the way that the game has changed, everybody is really competitive on road courses. It use to be where guys like Kenny Schroeder and Jimmy Spencer, they’d all joke around and say we’re not even going to show up on Sunday. We don’t need to run fast. Know a guy like Kasey Kahne can go to a road course that’s from an open-wheel, midget background and win at a road course. Tony Stewart’s dominated at Watkins Glen over the years. You have to be on your game. You have to show up and make sure that you don’t lose a lot of points. I had a good run for a while. We sat on some poles at Sonoma and Watkins Glen. We’ve had some top-five runs. It just seem like the fuel mileage is a big, big issue when you get to the road courses. You race the races from backwards to front on when you have to pit for the final time. You stretch your fuel for as long as you can go and that’s what we have to work on this time around."

DOES DIPLOMACY WORK WHEN DRIVERS HANDLE ON-TRACK ISSUES OUTSIDE OF THE CAR? "It can both ways. This is a sport about racing. It’s also a sport that’s been build off of rivalries and excitement that we see outside the car. In my mind, the racing needs to be done on the racetrack and that’s what needs to be covered. That’s the exciting part for me is to read who dominated the race or who passed who when or who gained the most spots the last few laps. And then there’s the drama, the People Magazine stuff that’s covered in our sport as well. You have to have ticket sales. At the end of the day, you want things to be settled on the race track."

From TRPR Kurt Busch Press Release

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