KURT BUSCH (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger)
DO YOU HAVE TO ADJUST HOW YOU RACE TO WHAT THE COMPETITON IS DOING DURING THE CHASE? “You can’t focus too closely on one guy per week. I think that you have to look at a group of guys over a few weeks time. I look at the Chase as being broken into three, six, nine (races) and then you have the final Homestead race. If you’re in position at Homestead, that’s when everything is crazy. The first three races, I just kind of group them together and hopefully we finish in front of half of the Chase field and find ourselves in good position. But if a guy goes out and wins these first three (races), you have to change your game plan because you have to keep up or you’re going to get left behind.”
YOUR ONE OF NINE CHASE DRIVERS USING A NEW CHASSIS THIS WEEKEND; ARE YOU A LITTLE BIT NERVOUS? “It’s just giving the confidence to engineers and the groups building the cars. You hope that the quality control is there and that if it’s something new, it must mean that it’s better. The way that three months can go by and you find new speed in the car, the game changes that fast and you have to bring the best piece that you can. Even though it’s not proven yet, you hope that quality control gives you the confidence that you have the best piece out there. And when you feel it out on the race track and it feels different, then you just have to make adjustments to it and hopefully, you’ll have the speed to be there at the end of the day.”
IS IT SIMPLE SET-UP STUFF? “We were able to calm the car down with one big rear-end change. That’s not something that we normally do, but it asked for it, we gave it to it and it picked up speed today.”
CAN YOU LOSE THE CHAMPIONSHIP IN NEW HAMPSHIRE? “Absolutely. I won (the championship) in ’04 by winning this race. I lost it in ’05 by being taken out on the third lap. I was dumped by a non-Chase guy and I finished 40th. That whole Chase, we were digging out of a hole and when you dig out of a hole, you stretch yourself thin, gamble on a pit stop when you’re not supposed to. We got impatient. It’s easy to get impatient when you’re behind.”
WHEN YOU LEAVE LOUDON IN A HOLE, HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO TELL YOURSELF THAT YOU CAN STILL WIN THE CHAMPIONSHIP? “It’s tough. You get shot in the leg and now you’re dragging a limp leg the whole time. You’re hoping that the other guys end up getting shot in the leg and they come back to you and they’re easier to catch. You have to sit there and go, ‘We have to race the same way, but we need help now.’ In the end, if you have a top performing car that can run in the top-three every week, you can overcome that type of battle. If you don’t…if you’re a team that’s been running sixth-to-12th all year, it’s tough to make up that kind of ground.”
DID YOU THINK THAT YOU WERE OUT OF IT IN 2005? “That first week was rough. I think that we went to Dover and were running third with 10 laps to go and blew out a right-front tire, so we were behind again. It just seemed like we were behind the whole time. When you have that feeling, it’s hard not to think of it.
“When I had cars that were fast, when I won the race, I had a car that was good on long, green-flag runs. That was key for us. The race that I won on fuel mileage, we had enough fuel to make it to the end and it’s just that the rain came in and we happened to be in the lead. We had short pitted to do that. So you have to be smart in the pits, but ultimately, I think cars that win the races here are the best cars on the long green-flag runs because this track doesn’t chew up tires like some other tracks.”