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February 10, 2019

Kurt Busch

Daytona Beach, Florida

THE MODERATOR: We are joined by our second‑place finisher, Kurt Busch, driver of the No.1 Monster Energy Chevrolet. We will open it up to questions for Kurt.

Q. Tell us what you saw out there. Were you mirror driving it to kind of see what was happening behind you as you and Jimmie were battling at the end?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, it was a pretty wild race with everything going on, with the race, the lineup under one of the yellows. I was watching my little brother. He just went and passed like 15 cars under yellow, and then they almost went back green. I'm like, all right, we've got to get all this straightened out, but it just seemed like everybody was really antsy. The draft is still pretty tough to gauge, and then with all the rain, it was start, stop, start, stop, so today was a how‑you‑can‑juggle‑it‑the‑best.
I felt like I had a good wing man with my little brother behind me, and it just didn't quite materialize in the fashion that I hoped it would have, but everybody that's running up front is smart and they're trying to protect their track position, and when you don't know when the rain is going to come for its final time, everybody is elbows out and antsy and you're just hoping that you're the leader when the biggest raindrops hit.
So Johnson made a move on Menard, and he stayed in that no‑zone ‑ I call it the no‑zone ‑ in that left rear quarterpanel for way too long, and it just drug Menard around with him, and that's some of the instability in the draft that these cars show. And that's why we end up single file a lot is just trying to make sure we're making our move because sometimes your final‑‑ your move is your last move because the cars are so unstable.

Q. Kurt, a couple practice sessions, Daytona 500 qualifying, a little bit of a race today. Have you gotten first impressions of your group of guys, and how do you feel about this new team around you?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, it's been nice. We've really gone quite a bit in making big steps to go, you know what, by Thursday, we need to act like a team that's been together for a half a year. So each and every day there's been tons of communication, sometimes over the top on this switch or this and that and this setup, this thousandth of an inch on the setup and things like that. I think today like I didn't know we were pitting at lap 25 under green. I just assumed the yellow was going to come out and then we'd all take the yellow and then all of us would pit under yellow, so that was a miscue on our part. I would have charged for the lead knowing that we were going to pit under green. And so that was one of those small things that slipped through. There's plenty to juggle out there, though.

Q. I was just kind of curious what your relationship was with your spotter Tyler Green and how you guys worked together today.
KURT BUSCH: We're just starting off. Today was our fourth day together on the radio. We luckily had two days at the Vegas test, a couple days at the race shop to talk about things and to review tape. But I like his enthusiasm. I like that he was a former racer. He comes from a racing family. The Green last name is a strong name in racing, and so it's good to have him on the spotter tower.
I think he's the youngest spotter I've ever had, and we're going to have some fun together.

Q. Kurt, you talked about Jimmie getting into sort of the no‑zone and staying there too long. Did you feel like once he made that move and stayed there that the wreck was coming and you were looking for a way out?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, it‑‑ you never know when there's going to be a lack of traction with the tires, but when you challenge the air and with Jimmie's run that he had on Menard, just seemed like he stayed there for a long time to do the side draft, and that just gave it more momentum for Menard's car to have a bigger wiggle, and then it looked like Jimmie had to go and duck below the double yellow to try to clear the cars from spinning, and yet that's a pass for the lead, and he went below the double yellow, and here we are, we're the next guy that didn't have problems.
It's like one of those judgment calls. It was close, we almost got the win today with the Monster Energy Chevy, but you've just got to try not to make mistakes, and I think we did okay.

Q. What is the acceptable time to stay in that no‑zone, and how difficult is that to judge at that speed and with everything happening around you?
KURT BUSCH: There's no real set time. With fresher tires you can hold things longer, older tires you've got to bail out. And I think Johnson had a legitimate run to go for the lead, and again, it's like, you want the cars more stable. You want us to run side by side. You want us to change lanes and not have side effects, and it just shows you how trimmed out everybody has got these cars to find that speed, and when you're looking for speed, it usually brings instability in the cars.

Q. Just got done talking to Matt outside, and he said that the communication so far was pretty good. This was just kind of a trial run race. I know it's early days still, but just the communication process with Matt and getting to know him as a crew chief?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, I like his leadership skills with the guys. He's a racer himself. I think he won a late model race Thanksgiving weekend this past year. And then we had a go‑kart outing. I just gave him the pole position off the invert for the go‑kart outing just to see if he could hold it, and he beat Larson and I. Larson and I couldn't quite catch him.
With that mentality of being a racer, being in the seat and knowing what has to happen, I've never really had a crew chief that was a racer, so I'm looking forward to everything we have around this No.1 car right now.

Q. Fans would naturally have a lot of questions after a race like that, seeing mostly single‑file racing and why we don't see those type of passes being made mid‑pack or up front. Try to make the fans understand why we don't see those type of moves being made.
KURT BUSCH: I wish I knew. That would be the golden ticket, to create the better racing and the stability of the cars side by side. If I had a magic wand, I would wave it. We're all smart guys. That's why we're running the high groove. The cars don't side draft as well off the left side. The right side is too vulnerable. And so when you draft off somebody on the right, you dump a lot more air on to their rear spoiler and you take away their sideforce on the right side of the cars. We've an at oval; we're turning left. The right side is very important. So if we can get the cars less dependable on the sideforce, that's what I would try to explain to the fans, and that's what I thought the cars were more of when I first started racing.

Q. At Talladega we saw all the Fords were able to really hook up together and dominate. Obviously they weren't as good today. Is that because of just the width of the track? Is it because maybe you can't run as much rear skew as you could in the past?
KURT BUSCH: Each time I looked up I counted a lot of Fords, so I still think they were hooked up. For me, I have the intel of being on the inside and knowing how they operate, and so I was just like trying to blend in and act like I was a Ford for a little bit, and then we started picking them off one at a time, and then once we got just Menard by himself, that's when I really thought the racing was going to get good, and unfortunately the wreck happened and then the rain came. It was all matching up to be a really good finale with the 25 laps to go.
Yeah, the Fords win in numbers, and that's the key. They're still just as strong, but there's a lot of them.

Q. Just curious how much different your Chevrolet felt compared to what you've been driving with the Stewart‑Haas Fords.
KURT BUSCH: In the short run and short‑term, everything felt very similar. I was just hoping for a longer run to see how the handling was going to come into play with 20 laps on the tires and just feel it from that point. But we never really got that long run because of the weather and the caution and other things.
I'm impressed, though. I like this group's enthusiasm. They know that we don't quite have the speed. Watching the four Hendrick cars qualify one, two, three, four today and the fastest Ganassi car was 21st, that shows you that we've got to go to work.

Q. I didn't know with you being up at the front if you felt like the Fords could close up on the back of the car a little bit more than the other makes, if you experienced that, or if that just depends on what situation you were in? Did you notice the Fords could suck up a little bit more and affect your handling in the rear?
KURT BUSCH: Apples to apples, because I came from a Ford last year at Talladega, and I felt like I had an easier time pulling up to the car in front of me last year versus today's race.

Q. You mentioned the double yellow line. Did you see Jimmie go under the line, and did you notify your team about that?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, I didn't quite see him until I saw the first replay after the race, and it clearly shows he's below the double yellow. Can the rule be interpreted he went to go pass below the double yellow? Yes. Can it be interpreted that Menard forced him below the double yellow? Yes. Right now Ganassi is over there at the hauler just checking in, just seeing what the call can be, and again, it's‑‑ like any sport right now, we see it in the NFL, the NBA, Major League Baseball, it's all an umpire or referee call, and they can decide which way it needs to go, but hey, we almost won our first race together, and we'll take second. Either way.
THE MODERATOR: Kurt, thanks for joining us, and good luck next week.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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