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February 26, 2017
Daytona Beach, Florida
THE MODERATOR: We'll continue on with our post‑race media availability and start with the winning race team for the 59th annual Daytona 500.
We are joined by team co‑owner Gene Haas. No stranger to Daytona Beach, a local, crew chief Tony Gibson.
Let's start with you, old man. You've been coming here since who knows when, and now you're a winner in The Great American Race.
TONY GIBSON: It's insane. I grew up five miles from here. My mom retired from here. My dad raced here all of his life. To come here ‑‑ and I've won it in the 500 before, but not as a crew chief. To come here and do this is amazing. I'm getting old, towards the end of my deal.
It's nice to be able to get this done. It still hasn't really sunk in. Other than Stewart beating on me in '71 at Daytona 500, I didn't really realize we did. I just think everybody, especially Gene, Tony, Ford Motor Company, Doug Yates, Monster Energy, Haas Automation, everybody just back at the shop. I'm just a small part of what goes on here.
I just happen to be the fortunate one that gets to sit up here. All my guys, most of them have been with me for over 13 years as a crew. We were fortunate enough to be with Dale Jr. for one of these things. To see those guys stick with me for so long and finally win it, it's truly amazing.
THE MODERATOR: You have championship as a car owner, but now you have a Daytona 500 title to your name. How does that feel?
GENE HAAS: I tell you, being a NASCAR owner by myself and with Tony, you know the frustration it takes to come to these races every week in, week out. Most of the time you go home with nothing. Most of time you go home with a wrecked car.
It's a really, really grueling racing schedule. The Daytona 500 is probably the hardest frigging race to win out there. You cannot believe how hard these guys work on these cars. They sit there and massage them, get the templates to fit perfectly. Every little gap is perfect. They color code them. There's so much work that goes into these cars.
Then you bring them here and you wind up destroying them. Most of us kind of feel, Wow, is this really worth it? When you do win it, you get one of these little rings, it suddenly feels like it's worth it.
Yeah, it's an awe‑inspiring win. Makes you feel like all the frustration, the years and years of not winning it, it just makes it all suddenly, Okay, that was okay. It's a great feeling. It's a great feeling to say we finally accomplished that, both Tony and myself. It's been a long time. I know Tony has had a long career. I've been doing this for a long time, too.
It's a real feeling of satisfaction I think for both of us to say we accomplished something that so few people can accomplish in the racing world.
THE MODERATOR: It's my honor now to introduce to you the champion of the 59th annual Daytona 500, and that is Kurt Busch. Some superlatives on Kurt. This is his 29th victory in 577 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races. Of course, it's his first Daytona 500 triumph.
You did it without a rearview mirror. How did you pull that one off?
KURT BUSCH: Thank you. I'm still blown away by the amount of effort that it takes to win one of these races, let alone the Daytona 500. This is very special.
To have come here over the years and to have fast cars, to not deliver for the team, you leave here feeling more dejected than any other racetrack. The years that you have really fast racecars, you end up on the hook, wrecked, those are the worst feelings.
Then there's years where you don't have speed and you can't figure out why. You try to salvage a solid finish and jump into points mode.
This place will challenge every emotion. Every day you wake up when you're here for Speedweeks, you have a full tank of optimism each and every day. Tony Gibson is an incredible crew chief. I can't thank him enough. Building.
This car started back after Talladega last fall. We had a lot of switch‑over at SHR this off‑season building all these Fords. Extra trips to the wind tunnel, extra massaging on this, changing that.
When you have a crew chief that grows up in the shadows of the grandstands here in Daytona, you know you have the best guy because his heart is in it. That's what Daytona is about. You have to give it your heart.
I gave my heat to a beautiful bride, Ashley, this off‑season. It's been a fairytale since the day I met her. Here we are sharing Victory Lane together as a team, with my new bride, with Ford, our first race together with Ford, and my first race with Monster Energy, you know, with them being the title sponsor.
And then for Gene Haas to believe in me years ago. He said, I'm all about the trophy. Not much a points racer, he just wants the trophies.
This is an incredible feeling to have all this hard work delivered today and driving into Victory Lane. It's unbelievable.
THE MODERATOR: We are now also joined by team so‑owner, Tony Stewart, Smoke, your first Daytona 500 win as a car owner. Talk about that experience for you.
TONY STEWART: If I knew all I had to do was retire to get it done, I would have retired a long time ago (smiling).
Couldn't be more proud to be up here with these three guys. To go back to when we joined with Gene and his group, made it Stewart‑Haas Racing and bringing Tony Gibson and his crew and then hiring Kurt, it's neat to say how this has all gelled, come about.
My hats off and biggest thanks to everybody at Stewart‑Haas Racing. We threw every curve ball we could in the last eight years. It's just a big group of racers. All they want to do is go out and win races, championships.
Nobody complained this winter when we had all the hard work and hours. I can't think of a better way to thank them for that hard work.
And for Gene, for letting me be a part of this with him. Everyone at Ford Performance that really has worked hard to make us feel a part of their family in a short amount of time and help us get acclimated quickly.
Doug Yates brought awesome horsepower like he always does to Daytona. Just a great group of guys. Tony Gibson does a great job on the box, as always. I told Kurt, I said it's probably the best race and most patient race I've seen him run today. He was definitely very deserving of this win.
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with questions.
Q. Kurt, Mitch said earlier this week that he called after the Clash and told you, Great job getting Monster all over TV, even though you wrecked. He didn't think you were very pleased with his assessment. How did Mitch and them feel today after a victory?
KURT BUSCH: It's incredible to have such a powerful brand share the car with Gene Haas. The way that Gene Haas worked together with Rodney Sacks, Mark Hall, Hilton Schlosberg, and Mitch Covington, it feels like family. When you share a car like we do and when you're in wrecks and they're doing a super slow‑mo of your car going through the grass, that's what my bride, Ashley, has turned me into such a positive thinker. She's like, That's such great exposure for Monster.
Mitch is texting at the same time. No, think of Tony Gibson and all the effort be out into building this beautiful car, and now it's thrashed. Here we are in Victory Lane together after such a difficult race. The more unpredictability that keeps getting thrown into the Daytona 500, now you just predict unpredictability.
With the segments today, that threw in another wrench. With guys on old tires, guys on new tires, a lot of veterans were taken out. Then there was the lap 80 wreck when it seemed like that should be the time we all settled in as a group that knows how to race at Daytona. That's when we had the most wrecks.
I was thankful that I got through a lot of the wrecks with minimal damage. Gibson managed the five‑minute clock. Here we are, minutes away from not being able to repair the car and having a clock tell us that we can't compete any more. We were that close to being eliminated.
There's just so many new things within this sport. You just keep rolling with it and you smile. You know you got a great team with Stewart‑Haas, a great team with Gene Haas in Oxnard, California, and a great team with Monster Energy in Corona, California.
Q. Gene, what made you take a gamble on Kurt? Doesn't look like a gamble now, but when you did it, maybe you were offering him a second chance.
GENE HAAS: It's still a gamble. You never know about Kurt. (Laughter.)
TONY STEWART: He's joking. He doesn't really mean that (laughter).
GENE HAAS: I tell you, early on, when you look for drivers, some people like to develop their own drivers. We did that a little bit. That's a difficult way to go.
I look for a driver that has proven talent. Kurt is already a past champion. He's won, when I think we started, over 25 races. He definitely had the ability.
When we met in a steakhouse in Indianapolis, I just said, Would you be interested in driving for me?
He said, Yeah.
It just started from there. It wasn't really a big leap of faith on my part. I knew he had gone through a little bit of a transition out of Penske. I knew he had the talent to do it.
Like I say, I wasn't interested in points racing, I was interested in winning. I thought he could deliver that. And he has done that. I knew he had the ability to do it. That was really the basis for my decision.
It looks like, today, it all paid off.
Q. Kurt, you touched on this a little, and Gene had mentioned the work that goes into massaging the car. What rolled into Victory Lane was a lot more than massaged, as well as many of your competitors today. Did you feel this race turned into more of one of survival?
KURT BUSCH: Daytona's always about survival. As I gave Tony Gibson a high five before we started the race, I said, It's 90% protect the car, 10% go for aggression, race hard, and execute at the end.
I'm thankful enough we didn't have too much damage. The nose was clean and the tail was clean. Yeah, the sides were a bit wrinkled up. You just kind of let the rough edges drag and you go for it. There's things that everybody has to go through to win this race. Usually there's not a perfect car anymore.
I just let the care go to the side when it comes to protect the car, making sure it doesn't have too much damage, because you always want a perfect car to have the most speed at the end. That's not the case any more.
Q. Kurt, when Gibson told you you were a lap short of fuel, what started going through your mind? Did you start feathering the car? Also, so many times you have been the pusher instead of the pushee. Has that prepared you for what you did today?
KURT BUSCH: With the fuel situation, he said we were half a lap shy. I just figured he would figure out how to gain a half a lap as we raced.
TONY GIBSON: We had a plan. Stewart is sitting beside me. I look to him and I said, How much fuel is he actually burning right here running third? Is he running half throttle, quarter throttle?
Stewart said, No, all out, he's matted. That's the only way you can run there.
I said, Oh, perfect. Not what we wanted to hear.
He wasn't helping me any.
KURT BUSCH: I wasn't helping you any. I was full throttle.
Either we were all going to come to the line together like we did or we were going to run out together. We were on the same sequence as the majority of those cars up front. Sometimes you've just got to roll with it.
Q. And about seeing the finish so many times from second place?
KURT BUSCH: To have the mirror fall off, and it broke on the left hinge, and so the right hinge was still mounted to the upper roll cage. I took my right arm and tried to fix it. Now the mirror is going vertical. I couldn't get enough angle in it to see behind me.
I was like, This is just exciting. What would Ashley do at this point? She laughs at stuff like this. I'm laughing at it, too.
I couldn't see crap out the back. I could see nobody back there. I said, What would my dad do? What would he teach me to do as a young racer?
I thought of the times I raced my dwarf car with my dad as my owner and crew chief. I watched that little dwarf car without a mirror. You go off intuition, off momentum, off sound of other cars. I envisioned a track that the top groove was the primary groove when I was growing up at a kid. I said, I just got to stay up high, take advantage of other people's mistakes, and I have to leave two to three feet to the right side of my car to try to absorb guys from the left side, and make my car as wide as I could.
Just going off of feel. Everybody kept making moves. I knew that I was sticking to the topside. I couldn't believe it all worked out. I mean, the spotter said, They're four back, after I exited turn two.
I'm like, Oh, we're done.
Then he said, Five back.
I thought, This is a new spotter. What the hell is he talking about?
I hunkered down. I was expecting to get hammered from behind all the way to the start/finish line because I thought the momentum of the pack was going to come up and take the lead away from me.
And we won.
Q. Aside from tonight's win, because it's a first for everyone, what was your most meaningful victory previously? If each could answer that.
KURT BUSCH: He's won the Daytona 500 before. This is one of the biggest ones that there is.
TONY GIBSON: It doesn't get any better than this. I've been fortunate enough to win it before. To win it with this guy beside me right here, Gene and Tony Stewart, Smoke, those guys support us. It's just a different feel.
In today's times to win, it's so competitive, so hard to win. Each time you win, it means more because it's harder and harder to win each time.
You're only as good as your last win. So this means more to me than anything I've done. I won the championship in 1992 with Alan Kulwicki, but this here is huge.
KURT BUSCH: This moment and feeling of giddiness, a surprised feeling, reminds me of my first win at Bristol in my second year of racing. It takes you all the way back. You feel like a kid again when you get to Daytona's Victory Lane.
GENE HAAS: I'll have to defer, but I would say probably the greatest victory was when we won 2011, and Tony won at Homestead. That was winning the championship. He went to the back, I don't know, twice.
TONY STEWART: Twice.
GENE HAAS: Drove to the front. That race was the best race I ever can remember. Yeah, that's the one I remember the most.
TONY STEWART: I'm the same way. That's the one that means the most to me. To battle all the adversity we had to battle, to go back and forth. I think we passed 120 some odd cars for position that day. That's a lot of cars to pass. Definitely was pretty cool.
But I can promise you this. Even though I ran here 17 times, didn't win this race, this is pretty daggone cool to win it as a car owner. This is pretty special.
Q. Kurt, Tony said this is probably the most patient, best race you've ever run. I'm wondering how much your new positive attitude kind of played into that.
KURT BUSCH: Patience, a compliment coming from Tony Stewart, that means a lot, too (smiling).
Again, Daytona will challenge you mentally and emotionally. For me, all the stuff that was getting thrown at us today, our car still had speed. I just kept digging.
It's a matter of having the right strategy, and you believe in your crew chief. It's a matter of having the right engine, and I believed in Ford. Then there's fate that helps you navigate through some of these wrecks.
I mean, the circumstances that happened out on the track, avoiding wrecks, you just have to be lucky. I was thankful that I was able to slide through a lot of these wrecks and be in position at the end.
Q. Kurt, was there anything that you would have wanted done to your car if you had more than five minutes or if you could have added a part or a piece? Would you have done anything different fuel mileage‑wise if you were in a Chevy versus a Ford? Anything you have to do differently?
KURT BUSCH: I think they repaired it to the best of their ability. When you have damage, and you have to put tape and repair work on the back bumper, what that means is that's a blinker, and people will just change lanes on you and not run with you.
I was very thankful we didn't have damage on the back bumper because it still convinced guys our car had a good shape to it, and therefore people from behind are more friendly.
So they did a great job to keep tape off of the back of the car.
As far as fuel mileage goes, when you're switching over a manufacturer there's a lot of components. There's so many different things that can go wrong.
This just shows the strength of what SHR went through this off‑season to be able to find every ounce of fuel on a switch‑over and to get all the fuel to that Ford engine. It's a testament to all the hard work. I'm very thankful to everybody.
Q. Tony, obviously you never won the Daytona 500 as a driver. Do you think the feeling as an owner compares to it at all?
TONY STEWART: I'm pretty happy right now, so...
I'm thinking, yeah, might kind of compare a little bit (smiling).
I mean, when you've grown up all your life as a racecar driver you want to win it as a driver. For every driver, there's a point where you step out of the car and you do something different. To have an opportunity to come back this year as an owner and still have the opportunity to be where we're at right now, I mean, that's a pretty exciting feeling.
It's what anybody that does anything with a race team, especially owners, that's what you strive for. You strive to win races and you strive to win championships. But first and foremost, you want to win the biggest one of the year. That's out of the box here at Daytona.
Like I said, if I knew I would retire and win the next race, I would have retired 17 years ago and got it that way.
It's a pretty cool deal. I mean, this is one that we've waited for for a long, long time.
Q. Earlier this week at Daytona 500 Media Day you said the track had been tough for you but it owns you. Now that you're a Daytona 500 champion, how has the track changed for you?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, I said it owns me, it doesn't owe me anything. You have to be humble when you walk through the gates here. You have to approach each and every year with, again, that optimism and belief that you can get the job done.
The more years that go by, there's certain strategies or handling characteristics that you have to ignore or have to forget about it because those aren't relevant to what it's going to take to win in 2017.
You always hope that it can happen. Today is that day. It happened because of all the great teamwork, great sponsors on this car, the great engine under the hood from Doug Yates. I felt like this time around was the most complete that I was going into Speedweeks. I believed in it. I'm just so happy that it all turned out. So thank you, Daytona.
Q. Kurt, you played the role of the good teammate in 2008 when you pushed your teammate at Team Penske, Ryan Newman, to the victory. You know nothing in this sport is ever guaranteed. Have you ever reflected back on that and wondered if that might have been the closest you were ever going to get?
KURT BUSCH: I always looked for Newman to hang out with me in 2009, '10, '11, '12, '13, '14. He was never there. Everybody is very selfish in this garage (laughter).
You always have to believe. I tell you, the time I finished second to Waltrip in 2003, that was sheer luck. The rain started while I was running second.
2005, I was following Jeff Gordon, going down the back straightaway. I wanted to peak out high and go around him. I saw a line of Chevrolets behind me. This is when I was driving for Ford. I tucked back in line. I wanted that one back the most.
2007 I had a fast car. I wrecked with my owner over here to my left. That was a tough defeat because both of‑‑ one of us should have ended up in Victory Lane that day.
'08 I had to push Newman. I couldn't go around him. It would have just stalled the whole drafting line.
2011 I won the Clash, the qualifying Duel. I was in the same position, running third, on the last lap to win the 500. I didn't close the deal in 2011. That one stung the most.
Then you got to have a top team. Stewart‑Haas has been that for me. This year all the pieces came together. You always have to believe it can happen.
Q. Gene and Tony, as owners and as racers, what does a day like today mean when you're able to provide the resources, the parts, pieces, and the people to help guys like Kurt and Tony fulfill a dream?
TONY STEWART: That's for you, by the way.
GENE HAAS: Okay.
Well, you know, I always kind of look to the team, because the team is composed of so many people that work so hard. I know the drivers, they're the culmination of everything the team does. But I actually kind of think that sometimes the team members work as hard if not harder than the drivers to get the car to Victory Lane.
To be honest with you, I kind of like that. I think the process of getting to Victory Lane sometimes is more rewarding than, say, being in Victory Lane because all the work and effort that goes into these cars. You have the crew chiefs and the engineers, the guys on the pit wall, all the fabricators back at the shop. There are so many people it takes to make this happen.
Sometimes we're sitting there popping the champagne and we forget about them. They're really the heroes. That makes me feel good. I really feel like it's good to have done something to show them what they did was really worth the effort.
Anyways, that really works for me. It's really cool, too, to be able to pick a driver and have that driver really wind up in Victory Circle because it kind of validates, you know, what your processes are in picking him.
Same thing with partners. I certainly wouldn't have wanted a business partner to be involved in racing. So Tony was the perfect fit because he understands racing. I learned a lot from Tony about what it takes to be successful in this business.
Prior to that, you know, we were a small team, like there are out there today. It's hard. It's hard to break through that ice and to be on top, but there's so many people that contribute to it. Here we are sitting up here thinking how wonderful we are. There's so many people back at the shop that got us here.
TONY STEWART: I mean, the cool thing, first year we had Stewart‑Haas, when we won the All‑Star Race, that was the first race that the whole organization had won. It was really an eye‑opening experience for me because I went from being a driver that had been fortunate enough to win races, you know, be there in Victory Lane.
On that particular night, to be there and see guys, especially at Charlotte where guys that don't get to travel on the road get a chance to be there, but to see a lot of our guys there in Victory Lane, to realize that a lot of those guys had never won a race before in this series, it was really an eye‑opener for me.
The fun part was I realized it was cool to be there as a driver and win. It was cool to bring Gene to Victory Lane. Like Gene mentioned, it was really cool to take a group of people that had never been to Victory Lane before in the series, to be able to be a part of getting them there.
I was watching grown men cry, guys that had worked a long time to get to that point in their career. I guess from that moment on it kind of changed my perspective of how I look at it as an owner. I've known all along in 38 years of racing that you have to have a good group of people to get you there. I think the best part of it is when you get to celebrate with all those people.
That's probably what I'm looking forward to most this week, is being able to get back to North Carolina and go to the shop and pat all of them on the back and tell them, Congrats. Like we said, we really put those guys through a lot this winter with all the additions and changes we made. For us to be able to come down here and win a Daytona 500 and be able to take it back to SHR, that's something I'm really proud of from the ownership side.
To be able to thank those people, that's a pretty good way to pat them on the back and say thanks, is to win this race for them.
Q. Tony, I think you might have made a few of us tear up with your emotions.
TONY GIBSON: Was it him?
TONY STEWART: He was comatose. He doesn't move.
TONY GIBSON: He was like a frog jumping up and down.
TONY STEWART: He put his head back. Did he pass out? I had to shake him a bit.
TONY GIBSON: He said, You won the 500. Wasn't sure I did or not (smiling).
Like I said, this is where I grew up. I was born in Halifax Hospital across the street. Like I said, my mom retired from here. My dad raced all his life. He's had some great drivers drive his stuff.
To come here and win the Daytona 500, anything I do, my dad, he worked two jobs, I had two other brothers that raced. Dad had to work night and day and everything he had to make sure we could race and have fun. So my mom and dad are the ones I thought about very first thing.
Growing up, where I'm at today, my wife Beth, she's been my biggest supporter for the last 26 years, sticking with me when things are bad. I'm laid up in the hospital, whatever.
All those emotions just clamp on you at one time. It takes a few minutes for it to sink in. It's pretty incredible.
Q. Kurt, how, if at all, has Tony changed in retirement, either with demeanor or involvement, these last few months, and especially Speedweeks?
TONY STEWART: Be very careful (laughter).
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, I love your glasses. It makes you look so educated.
TONY STEWART: Fake it well (smiling).
KURT BUSCH: I tell you, the times we raced against each other over the last few years, the role that he plays as a racer and then as an owner, he puts each hat on distinctively. When he walks into team meetings and has to talk as a team owner, he is spot on. You can't pull the wool over a racer/owner.
I made one stupid move at a Pocono restart. He came in there and gave me a smack across the back of the head. What the hell were you thinking? I was like, that was the racer Tony, but that was the owner as well, because I didn't put the car in a good position to get the best finish.
Tony is very patient. He is astute to the management of the people. You can hear that is his voice tonight talking about he was watching grown men cry. There is that self‑satisfaction he gets, as well as Gene, as well as Tony Gibson, to watch their team perform and to put all these puzzle pieces into place.
It's great to have this powerful team, a great owner, a champion driver that turned into a full‑time owner. We've made our stable that much stronger with Tony Stewart in this role.
The sky's the limit. I'm just so happy to have everybody in the position that they're in. To win in our first race with Ford, those guys, they have some passion. It matches our passion at SHR.
Q. Kurt, before Chase ran out of gas, were you starting to plot any strategy to make a run at him at all?
KURT BUSCH: I didn't even know he ran out of gas.
I felt like the car numbers I was looking at, 24, it wasn't Jeff Gordon. When I was looking at the 14 car, who wasn't up front, but that was Tony Stewart, a legendary driver. I didn't see Kenseth up there. I didn't see Harvick up there. I was seeing all these young guys, all these new guys.
I'm like, Aha, I'm the old bull here. I just got to take my time. I'm going to walk around here the right way and give it my best, smartest decisions that I could make, even though I had all the damage I had. I figured these guys would get a little overzealous and make a few moves they couldn't keep up with.
I didn't know that Chase ran out of gas. I hate that for him. He definitely had the car to beat. The kid is going to be a superstar in this sport. Circumstances weren't on his side today.
But all those kids... We put on a performance those last 50 laps. Nobody wrecked. Everybody came home safe and put on a great show. That's what I'm really happy about.
Q. Tony Stewart, can you describe the journey that you and Greg Zipadelli have gone on, especially at this place, through the years, the successes, what it meant to win this with him today, to share that.
TONY STEWART: I'm glad you asked that actually 'cause that was one person that I ‑‑ we talked about a lot of people here, and that's someone that I feel we need to give a lot of credit to. He should be sitting up here as much as the four of us are because he's the one that's really led the charge.
With the whole switch‑over, leading everybody at the shop, it starts with him. Like Kurt said, there was a year here that Kurt's car and our car were the best two cars here. I got a pit road speeding penalty. I knew that was one I let get away from us, when I caused the wreck that took Kurt and I out.
Kurt is forgetting when he pushed Ryan to the win, he pushed Ryan past us for that.
KURT BUSCH: I didn't forget. I just didn't mention it (smiling).
TONY STEWART: I was remembering at the same time (smiling).
That was really before guys really blocked like they do now. I sat there and I couldn't even look at Zippy for the whole week leading into Atlanta because I felt like if I moved in the upper lane there, they were coming so fast, I was going to wreck us doing it.
We had Kyle as our teammate at the time. Tried to stay with our teammate and make it work. I just felt like I let it get away.
This is really cool. Zippy is here pretty much with his whole family, except his oldest son isn't here this weekend. That's a big relief. That was cool to see him in Victory Lane, too. He just kept saying, It's just a relief finally. We knew we were close a couple times. Just never could finish it off.
Like I say, even in this capacity, it's nice to finish it off this way.
Q. Kurt, I'm surprised nobody asked this before. What are you doing tonight to celebrate? On a more serious note, how long do you get to savor this win before starting to think about next weekend?
KURT BUSCH: I'm sure Monster is thinking about something as we speak. I don't have my cell phone yet. I'm sure the party will start somewhere. I have no idea where. I hope the fog lifts by the time Friday rolls around when we get to Atlanta.
This is something that's special. Like Tony Stewart has said, Gene Haas has said, Gibson has won this race before. This is a championship wrapped into these two weeks. There's so many emotions, it's hard.
When I put my hands in the concrete that they're going to put out front of the speedway after it dries, that's when it sunk in literally, when my hands were going into concrete, that we achieved this special moment.
Great family that's here with me with the Van Metre family. My mom and dad didn't make it for this race. We will have a nice celebration, but we have to keep it in perspective. Don't we take the car to the museum tomorrow morning?
TONY GIBSON: Yeah.
KURT BUSCH: I'm sure I have to go to New York, a few other places to celebrate this with different media members, different shows.
This is a celebration. As my groomsmen said before the wedding, We have to pace ourselves. We have to pace ourselves.
I'll use their words of wisdom. We'll get to Atlanta, jump on the track, be smart, attack, and try to win race number two.
Q. Kurt, how do you feel like you've changed as a person, not just as a driver, but as a person off the track, since you joined Stewart‑Haas?
KURT BUSCH: I feel like experience on the track continues to grow, but I was neglecting experience in life. The different circumstances that were happening, I wasn't learning enough from.
My wife Ashley has helped me digest better feelings towards how to approach situations. It's like today when the mirror broke with 30 to go. I looked at it. I saw her in it. I'm like, She's just going to smile. She's just going to figure it out.
I tell you, age and wisdom, they come together. Youth is wasted on the young. I've been through some different patches here or there, but to have a team that believes in me, that's the most important part. To have a wife that believes in me, and a family of course, all the way through all of this.
Then to be a Monster athlete for the last six years, they're a sponsor that stuck by my side. We've won some good races together. Now we get to toss a Daytona 500 trophy in the lobby in Corona, California, as well as Oxnard, California, with Haas Automation.
Q. Kurt, watching the race today was a little bit like your career. If it was a television show, you'd call it Survivor.
KURT BUSCH: How many times have you told me, Gene, that you're a survivor?
GENE HAAS: I don't remember.
KURT BUSCH: You don't remember, okay.
That's what Daytona's about. You have to roll with it. You have to find what it's going to take to win. Our car didn't have too much damage on it, on the nose and tail. I felt like it still had speed in it.
I knew Gibson was going to give me the right pit strategy. I just kept believing it was going to happen.
17 years of heartache can be erased. It's erased tonight. Having the chance to win as a team, with all of these sponsors, this new Ford partnership, it flashes through your mind of all the people that have helped you get to this point in life.
I have a lot of great friends back in Las Vegas that helped me in the grassroots racing that I think of on a night like tonight.
THE MODERATOR: Kurt, you are no longer just a survivor, you're now forever remembered as a Daytona 500 champion. Congratulations again, guys. Best of luck next week in Atlanta.
KURT BUSCH: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports