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May 23, 2014

Kurt Busch

Scott Dixon

Tony Kanaan

THE MODERATOR:テつ Welcome, everyone.テつ We'll be joined by Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan in a bit.テつ
There were a lot of laps turned today.テつ I notice, Kurt, you jumped up a little past mid pack in the late going of the events.テつ Tell us about the final practice and your thoughts going into the running of the Indianapolis 500.
KURT BUSCH:テつ Just had to get back up on my horse, as the NASCAR guys always say.テつ Just got to thank my crew.テつ Honestly, this is a thank-the-crew moment from Andretti Motorsports.テつ Those guys worked tirelessly on Marco Andretti's car that he's going to run next weekend at Detroit to put it in oval condition, to go out there, make laps, stage ourselves to progress through the day today.テつ
That one-hour session, that old school Happy Hour thrash that we would call in the NASCAR world.テつ Felt good to get out there and get comfortable.テつ I'd give it a B overall.テつ Nice feeling to get settled back in and thanks to the Andretti Autosports guys.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Car feels pretty much the same?テつ
KURT BUSCH:テつ I've been through three different cars.テつ One was the rookie orientation, the car I qualified, and then this one here.テつ
Each one has had its own little characteristic to it.テつ This one has a lot of response out of the front tires.テつ The mistake I made the other day on how I didn't have the car in an understeer position, I've learned to do that.テつ
It just makes it a little bit more imbalanced in practice.テつ I've got a lot to learn once they drop the green flag on Sunday.テつ Simulating dirty air can only be done when there's a pack of cars.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Questions for Kurt.テつ

Q.テつ How are you feeling physically?テつ Has everything you've done this month caught up with you?テつ How is the training affecting you now this weekend?テつ
KURT BUSCH:テつ You know, this morning I was a bit anxious to get back in the car and to see how I was going to feel.テつ There's a lot to be said about guys when they hit the wall.テつ They lose their confidence a little bit.テつ I didn't lose my confidence.テつ I just needed to make sure I didn't over-adjust the car when I got back in traffic.テつ
I settled back in once I was able to make laps.テつ Once we jumped back up on the speed charts, they threw an adjustment on the car based on my comfort level.テつ
I need to do a better job reading the traffic and that will help our Sunday effort.テつ

Q.テつ Was this your longest stint in traffic?テつ If so, how was the traffic?テつ
KURT BUSCH:テつ It's just a matter of anticipating what's in front of you, getting a run on the guys.テつ
The traffic, yes, this was my longest stint in traffic.テつ On Thursday last week, that's where I felt the most comfortable.テつ But that was when Ryan Hunter-Reay was helping me, the Andretti Autosports guys.テつ There were only five of us out on the track at a time.テつ
With the bigger packs out there, it dirties up the air.テつ It makes you very busy inside the car.テつ Today I was able to feel busy, to stay on top of the adjustments, and to communicate to the crew what I think I need for Sunday's race.テつ
I think I made nice steps today to get back up on my horse, to feel the car again, feel confident, then they made changes to make it go up the speed charts again.テつ

Q.テつ I think Tony said yesterday, before he won, this race in particular you don't pick it to win, it picks you.テつ I wonder if the Daytona 500 and some of your NASCAR races are like that where so many things have to go right, sometimes it picks you.テつ
KURT BUSCH:テつ I would agree with Tony's assessment.テつ This race and the Daytona 500 are two very prestigious races that the preparation that you have to put into it and the survival aspect of it, to position yourself at the end of the race are all the things that you're trying to do to add percentage points in your favor to be in position to win.テつ
So if you're prepared to meet that opportunity at the end of the race, then luck might shine your way and you might end up with the royal flush or blackjack.テつ You have to position yourself all day long.テつ
With technology evolving, aerodynamics, fuel strategy, what I see in both races is you have to put yourself in position towards the later two-thirds to be in that group that's going to have a shot at it.テつ

Q.テつ You're starting in the middle of the pack.テつ Have you watched video of it a lot?テつ Have you asked drivers about it a lot?テつ Are you going in with wide open eyes?
KURT BUSCH:テつ From my time here in NASCAR, you go down into turn one, it's the most brake you've used all weekend.テつ The draft just sucks you right on in.テつ They said that this morning in the drivers meeting, they said it in the rookie meeting, that the draft and the air will just pull you right on in there.テつ
I'll definitely be prepared for it, watch videos for it.テつ It's part of this spectacle, though.テつ It's part of the presentation and protocol to be three-wide and parade down the front straightaway and then fan out and fill up the front straightaway.テつ
It's exciting.テつ It's a moment in sports.テつ I can't wait to be part of it and apply the knowledge I have to corner through one and two and then get on with the race.テつ

Q.テつ You practiced well at Charlotte, but didn't have a great qualifying effort.テつ How do you feel about the car?テつ Are you concerned about it or feeling good?
KURT BUSCH:テつ Yeah, we threw our qualifying run away last night, knowing we would be starting in the back.テつ We made an attempt, but it wasn't full-fledged itself because we spent 90% of it in race trim trying to make laps in the daytime.テつ Tomorrow morning I'll be out in the cool conditions with the Cup car.テつ That will simulate a little bit of what we see at the end of the Coke 600.テつ

Q.テつ Can you assess a little bit your relationship with Father Grubba, what he's going to bring to you this weekend.テつ
KURT BUSCH:テつ I met Father Grubba through Tom Roberts, my PR guy in my days at Penske.テつ Father Grubba has been with a lot of the ASA guys in the Midwest guys, late model guys, racing, taking photography, saying mass for those individuals.テつ He was close to the late Alan Kawicki, Rusty Wallace, Mark Martin.テつ
Just to have him on my side, it's just great to have a pastor running shotgun with me.テつ I'll try to pull anything I can to try to make it through.テつ

Q.テつ (No microphone.)
KURT BUSCH:テつ I have Alan's medallion coin, and he'll be saying mass for me on Sunday morning with my family.テつ

Q.テつ Kurt, as a champion race driver you don't get caught up in the moment, but are you starting to feel this right now, especially on a day like today?テつ
KURT BUSCH:テつ There is the 'stop and smell the roses' moment.テつ To me it's getting closer to race time.テつ I have to be focused, put the blinders on.テつ I've had enough time to smell the roses.テつ
Today reminds me the Saturday of Brickyard weekend.テつ The crowds are coming in, it's vibrant.テつ I'm sure Sunday morning will be that much more than what it is for the Brickyard.テつ
But it's race time.テつ I'm starting next to Dixon.テつ I have a responsibility to be a racecar driver.テつ

Q.テつ Everything is done, you have nothing left but the race.テつ Can you win Sunday?テつ What is an acceptable race for you on Sunday?
KURT BUSCH:テつ Everything is done.テつ The Andretti guys have worked their tails off helping me prepare cars and helping me progress through being a rookie.テつ
These cars are different to drive.テつ The draft and the tow are much more violent than what it is in NASCAR.テつ The simulation of 33 cars won't happen until Sunday.テつ
I give myself a B minus right now.テつ I still have to work through traffic and to pass cars and let others feel confident around me.テつ I need the first half the race to do such.テつ
Can we win?テつ We have to put ourselves in position to win; we can't ask for it.テつ

Q.テつ (No microphone.)
KURT BUSCH:テつ Tony Stewart set the benchmark in this race in the procedure of the double, lead lap on both races.テつ Top of the field is what I'm shooting for.テつ If I can maneuver into that position through the first half the race, I don't need to get overconfident and think I can chew on that much more, try to do that much more, try to get to aggressive, make a mistake.テつ
To me it's about executing and being a professional about this whole thing.テつ

Q.テつ As the double gets closer, does it seem more daunting or more doable than maybe a month ago or a couple of weeks ago?テつ What kind of input have you gotten from Tony Stewart?テつ
KURT BUSCH:テつ As each day gets closer, you're getting more anxious to get it done because you've been preparing for so long, then experiencing so many new things.テつ
I'm the least prepared of the individuals who have done the double.テつ They've all come from the open-wheel world and settled into the NASCAR world.テつ For me, the lack of experience in the IndyCar world is what makes this fun, exciting, challenging.テつ
At the end of the day it's just about giving it my best and not making a mistake on Sunday to try to get 1100 miles in.テつ

Q.テつ (No microphone.)
KURT BUSCH:テつ With Stewart, he's been wanting me to stay on top of giving him information.テつ He's been giving information back.テつ He asked me if I needed a bulldozer to move the turn two wall (laughter).テつ
It's great to have his experience as a driver and then to have him as an owner on my NASCAR side.テつ I can see his eyes light up every time I go over there and talk to him about all of this.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Kurt, thank you for coming in.テつ
KURT BUSCH:テつ Thank you.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Teammates at the top, Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon.テつ We thought we'd see you guys emerge when it got down to full fields and racing.テつ
Tony, what do we take from it?テつ Do you feel good about it?テつ
TONY KANAAN:テつ We feel good about it.テつ I think we worked pretty hard together to make it up for our Saturday qualifying.テつ We have great people back in the engineering office at Target Chip Ganassi Racing.テつ We showed that a little bit on Monday after qualifying and today.テつ
Lap times don't count today.テつ It feels good to be up there, but that's not what it's all about.テつ
We ran a lot in traffic.テつ I can say I'm pretty happy about it.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Scott, I noted that you guys ran quite a few laps today.テつ 50 and 46 were the totals for you two.テつ
SCOTT DIXON:テつ Sometimes the engine manufacturer puts you in a position where you can't run too many.テつ I think with the mileage, the engines, the reliability, they've increased over the years, it sort of allows you to run at will.テつ
Yeah, the 9 car feels good.テつ The 10 car, quick this morning.テつ As Tony touched on, it's just placing yourself to get a big tow.テつ You try to take the most you can out of it, pop up to the top.テつ
I think the cars were consistent.テつ Balance-wise, very good.テつ Able to sort of maneuver through some of the traffic.テつ But I think as we all know the competition is extremely tough and it looks like there's many good cars out there.テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Questions.テつ

Q.テつ Scott, the start of this race can be wonky.テつ You're starting alongside a rookie on Sunday.テつ Have you had conversations with Kurt?テつ
SCOTT DIXON:テつ No, you know, I think obviously Juan and Kurt have a ton of experience.テつ The three-wide start is a little bit different, but it's nothing too crazy.テつ Three-wide probably just for the parade lap, then it cycles out pretty quickly.テつ
But, yeah, no concerns there whatsoever.テつ

Q.テつ (No microphone.)
TONY KANAAN:テつ I don't think so.テつ I think if you saw last year at one point Scott was saying you're like 18th, you could see the leader in the straightaway.テつ This year I think is going to be even worse in that matter.テつ I don't think anybody is going to pull away.テつ I don't think anybody is going to want the lead either.テつ
It's going to be a pack race, for sure.テつ

Q.テつ (Question regarding the green-white-checkered.)テつ
TONY KANAAN:テつ If the boss wants that, we want that, too.テつ Whatever he wants.テつ
I don't know.テつ It doesn't matter to me.テつ I don't make the rules.テつ I try to follow them.テつ

Q.テつ Scott, I feel like I've seen this show before where you guys are not that fast, then Carb Day you all of a sudden are at the top of the leaderboard.テつ Are you setting us up for another Ganassi win on Sunday?テつ And, Tony, were you ever concerned that the speed would get here?テつ
SCOTT DIXON:テつ We definitely don't do it on purpose (laughter).テつ We'd like to roll out straightaway and be quick.テつ I think we are normally the opening few days.テつ Qualifying with this car, I think the last couple years we could have blamed some of the performance on Honda's difference to the Chevy.テつ
I think ideally we've got a lot of work to do with the qualifying setup for the car here for next year.テつ Hopefully we can sort of head in that direction.テつ
But as Tony said, the times that you see now are kind of how you place yourself.テつ I think there are a few cars capable of the same thing.テつ
But, yes, last year we kind of did the same thing, and the cars were actually pretty horrible in the race.テつ Hopefully that's not going to happen.テつ
TONY KANAAN:テつ For me, I actually leaned a lot on Scott in that matter.テつ I kept talking about it, Is this normal over here?テつ
I don't think I was that concerned because, to be honest, that's normal to me.テつ It was normal for me for the past few years.テつ I wasn't in anyplace that I wasn't comfortable with.テつ
So I think on that matter, I was able to actually help my engineer to understand that we're going to be okay.テつ Used to start in the front, lead, have dominant cars.テつ
I kept it calm because I think if I concentrated on my racecar like last year, we will be able to do the job.テつ I think we did a great job on Monday.テつ We felt pretty good today.テつ So for me it was different because also my expectations were much higher than 16th, especially with this car.テつ
But after all was said and done, there was nothing I could do about that.テつ Nobody remembered where I qualified last year, they remembered where I finished.テつ I turned the page and concentrated on that.テつ

Q.テつ Scott, the circumstances are different because you had an engine change in 2012 between qualifying and the race.テつ Does this remind you of that when you and Dario ran midfield?
SCOTT DIXON:テつ Not really.テつ I think what's different this year is if you look at most of the practice times, everybody is running full fuel, we were pretty high up.テつ I don't think we were quickest on any day.テつ I think the majority of the time we were in the top six.テつ It's not like we've miraculously found a ton of speed.テつ
That year was different.テつ Honda brought a different spec, the mapping was different, which gained the speed.テつ I don't see this year like that.テつ

Q.テつ Tony, take us through the last 11 laps from last year.テつ I'm sure you probably replayed it a little bit.テつ
TONY KANAAN:テつ I think on the last 11 laps, amazingly enough you didn't want to be leading.テつ That was the thing.テつ That was the problem.テつ I got caught in a yellow flag.テつ I think it was Graham's yellow flag and I was leading, then restarted and I lost the lead right away.テつ I don't remember laps, 10 or 9 or whatever, then went yellow again.テつ That's when I said, Wow, okay, I am where I wanted to be, which was second.テつ
After that, when it was three to go, four to go, went green, I just said, I'm going to go.テつ If it goes yellow again I'm going to lose this race for sure.テつ That was the mindset.テつ At that point it was three to go, I wanted to be leading.テつ

Q.テつ How many laps can you hold the lead?
TONY KANAAN:テつ Half a lap.テつ One straightaway, and if the guy is good enough, he'll pass you in the back, you'll pass him in the front.テつ At that point I was trying to see if I could get a run on the guy before the start/finish line.テつ

Q.テつ Tony, you had pit stops with this new team but not as many as you're going to have Sunday.テつ What, if anything, do you do for relationship building going in here?
TONY KANAAN:テつ I've been spending a lot of time in the race shop.テつ Those guys are not strangers to me.テつ Dario drove that car.テつ Some of the guys worked back with me in the Andretti days.テつ
Today it's about them.テつ They have this pit stop competition and the race is about all of us.テつ I think the team has enough experience.テつ I just got to stop where they want me to stop and everything is going to be okay.テつ

Q.テつ The white flag lap this year, how much do you force a guy to lead so you can be in the passing position for the victory?
SCOTT DIXON:テつ The rules have changed this year, too.テつ You can block.テつ

Q.テつ (No microphone.)
SCOTT DIXON:テつ We haven't gotten clarification on that.テつ You can defend now.テつ
TONY KANAAN:テつ There is no rule that says you cannot move to the left.テつ
SCOTT DIXON:テつ Last year we had to leave the car at all times to the inside of the track.テつ
TONY KANAAN:テつ We don't make the rules.テつ

Q.テつ Tony, I wonder how much winning this race changes your perspective on it?テつ Do you feel more free, more burdened by being the center of attention?テつ
TONY KANAAN:テつ I mean, it's changed a lot of things.テつ To me obviously for all the times that I tried and I couldn't succeed, it was a huge relief.テつ
You know, the popularity was always there, so I don't think that increased a lot as far as the fans and people when I walk around this place.テつ People are always great to me.テつ
It's just a wonderful feeling.テつ It fulfilled my career dream.テつ I landed in a very good job because of it.テつ Trying to take advantage of it again.テつ

Q.テつ When you guys talk about this, it sounds like restrictor plate racing, like Texas when that was insanity.テつ Sounds like you don't mind it too much here.テつ Can you talk about what Texas was like versus this?テつ Is this better than that or...テつ
TONY KANAAN:テつ C'mon!テつ I don't know.テつ I think Texas was more of a pack race than this, by far, especially the nature of the track.テつ The way we used to race there side-by-side, we can't do that here.テつ
You can always look and say, This is the Indy 500.テつ You are like leading the race and you have the right to lead.テつ I don't think it's fair enough sometimes to the leader that he'll be exposed and he's going to lose the race because he was in the lead.テつ It doesn't make any sense in my head.テつ
From that, I would say maybe the defending will be fair because the leader should have the right to defend because he had the right to be there.テつ So that would be my opinion about it.テつ
It can be dangerous, for sure.テつ Racing was never safe.テつ I don't think the fans would appreciate if we go, Oh, please, go ahead, it's your turn.テつ Oh, please, you go in this one.テつ
There is a certain amount of defending that should be allowed.テつ The way the rule is right now is you cannot react to a move of a car behind you, but you can move.テつ Basically you know what's going to happen.テつ The leader is going to move to the left.テつ You have a clear track to the right.テつ In my opinion, that's fair.テつ
SCOTT DIXON:テつ You covered the whole thing (laughter).テつ
THE MODERATOR:テつ Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming in.テつ
SCOTT DIXON:テつ Thank you.テつ
TONY KANAAN:テつ Thank you.テつ

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