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September 8, 2007

Kurt Busch


KERRY THARP: Kurt Busch finishes tenth in the championship points after the first 26 races. But with the seeding, he will be the fifth seed coming into the 2007 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup. Kurt, talk about your thoughts about being back in the Chase, and as you look over the next ten races, what do you think?
KURT BUSCH: It's great to be back, and to hear that we finished tenth overall after the first 26 races, that's a little feather in the cap. That's a nice little note to know that we did a good job over the first 26 races, especially as of late with Pat Tryson coming aboard since July, the beginning of July, it's felt like a very solid race team. We're poised to be a threat in this deal. We have fast race cars, we have consistency, and we've got patience. And the best thing is we've got that experience. Pat's been in the Chase as a crew chief every year that it's existed. I took a year off last year to get the team rebuilt up. But here we are and we're ready to go.
It's great that we've positioned ourselves and got a couple of wins, to be fifth overall, that's how you have to work the system. Bonus points move you up when the Chase starts, so you'd better have some wins. Jimmie Johnson is just on a tear right now and he's going to be tough to catch.
For us at Penske Racing, it's great to have one Dodge car in the Chase. But we want to have more Penske cars in and more Dodges next year. Hopefully Newman will come across something in the next few weeks that will help make the Miller Lite Dodge go a little faster. So we're looking forward to it.

Q. What did you feel getting nailed from the rear end there in that wreck, you had to have a moment of panic; did your heart jump in your throat there?
KURT BUSCH: Definitely. I saw my teammate get loose and spun there, best thing I could do there is just stop and hunker down and wait for the impact. So I held the wheel pretty tight and when you do that, you just get hit from behind when you stop like that.
Our heart was beating 1,000 miles per hour after that, because I figured the rear bumper cover was flapping in the wind, or there might be drags on the tires and we have to throw all of our track position away. Luckily, there was the red flag at that point, and we checked the car out and everything was okay. But our car was a little loose after that, after the crush panels got tore out of the back and the downforce just didn't seem to be there. But coming home ninth, it's just a testament to what this team is doing.
While we stopped on that accident, we were running sixth behind Kenseth and Newman, and since we stopped for the wreck, we decided that -- we were part of the wreck I guess and we lost about five spots when we went back green because they pushed other guys in front of us. So we just didn't gain that track position back, but overall it was a good day.

Q. The next ten races that you have coming up, what are the ones you're looking forward to?
KURT BUSCH: You have to be optimistic about each and every one of them. The way that the Chase starts out is that you've got a flat track with New Hampshire, I'm excited about; I won there before. You have Dover, another COT race. That will be a tough one because these cars have an interesting quirk to them when you race at Dover.
I'm looking at the couple of troublemakers like Talladega. That will be a tough one especially with the COT there. And Charlotte, that's been a tough one for me. I'll talk to Humpy Wheeler and see if he can give me some tips for Charlotte

Q. Getting hit from the back, if you think about the current cars, because the bumper covers are not even, might that have caused more damage and spun you out where the COTs, the bumpers line up?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, I believe the COT helped with the impact. With the old cars probably would have got the tires lifted off the ground and spun back and now you're free game for anybody to run into you. You could say we got lucky or you could say we did all of the right things when the smoke was out. We just stopped and tried to stay out of the way and luckily we were hit behind square enough where we didn't be part of the wreck.

Q. You've been in a close championship race before, 40 points behind in these ten races; how tough can that be to make up for ten races when typically these are the guys that are running well?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, the guys are running very well, Johnson, Gordon, Stewart is going to be tough. You know, in 2004, I came in I think 35 points off the lead and I was within ten after the first race.
So the points aren't tough to make up; it's just to maintain. The stretch that we've been on since the 1st of July, that's the philosophy we are going to take through the Chase, which is to be consistent. If we have an opportunity to win and lead most laps, we've got to make sure that we do that.

Q. You had mentioned this the other day, I thought it was interesting, your first Chase, everything that possibly went right did; do you go to New Hampshire trying to stick your toe in the water or can you have that mentality because it seems like to us you have the first three guys -- the three guys who have won championships and then you make it four out of five. Of the Top-5 going into the Chase, four of you are past champions. You're not going to be able to give away any points, do you have to go in between being aggressive and being cautious?
KURT BUSCH: Oh, yeah, definitely, I think you're on the right track. You can't just ride around and finish 7th at these COT races and expect to be at the top of the points. Johnson is unbelievable right now; Gordon -- those two cars, you can see they have a distinct advantage on the field when it comes to COT races. The Gibbs car is there and I think we fit in there about third as far as team ability to get these cars handling.
So you have to go for it. You have to be fast and usually fast cars are easier to drive and the weekend just goes smoother. It's those tough days where you have a 12th place car and you're sliding around and three guys are on top of and you're racing side-by-side with guys you don't normally do that with and they feel nervous because they don't want to hurt a Chase contender. So those are the situations you want to stay away from.
KERRY THARP: Kurt, congratulations, great finish down the stretch and we'll see you in New York this week.

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