Ford Performance NASCAR: Kurt Busch

Ford Performance NASCAR Notes and Quotes
Daytona Speedweeks – Daytona International Speedway
Saturday, February 10, 2018

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion, kicked off Daytona speedweeks with a visit to the media center to discuss his reign as defending Daytona 500 champion and more.

KURT BUSCH, No. 41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford Fusion — YOU HAVE BEEN IN TOWN A COUPLE DAYS, WHAT HAS IT BEEN LIKE DOING ALL THIS MEDIA AS THE REIGNING CHAMPION? It has been great. It is good to be back at the track. I am looking forward to the practice sessions this afternoon and getting our car dialed in for the Clash and for the 500 of course. It is really an experience to win Daytona and come back and experience it all and be promoting the race as the defending champion. It is unique. I am looking forward to this opportunity to defend this title and try to make it back-to-back for Stewart-Haas Racing at Daytona. We have our work cut out for us. I like the way the new ride height rule has been implemented by the series. There is so much more that we have to do with these practice sessions than normal to try to get all the speed out of the car with a different routine. In practice we used to only do like five or 10 laps at a time but now we will make as many laps as we possibly can make today to try to get the car dialed in.”

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WHAT HAVE YOU DONE AS FAR AS TEAM BUILDING IN THE OFF-SEASON WITH BILLY TO TRY TO GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER BETTER? “As far as my new crew chief, Billy Scott, honestly it has been seamless. The best part was the test session at Las Vegas two weeks ago. To have two days at track in practice sequences doing short runs, long runs, the time together has been easy with texts, calls, lunches, dinners. I know he is anxious to get to the track and just get going but for me and him it has been easy. The communication has been seamless and in all honestly it has been fun just because it is a new sequence with him and new guys. We are trying to learn as much as we can in a short amount of time.”

HOW DO YOU LIKE THE NEW INSPECTION SYSTEM? “With the new Hawkeye laser system, it is a new procedure but it is a much needed system because the way the templates are shaped and different ways you can make the fenders or hoods look and the way the whole assembly of the car comes together, I think the Hawkeye system does a good job of seeing where there are differences, where teams are trying to take advantage of certain areas and hopefully it will equalize the way some of the teams were pushing the limits in certain areas. Kudos to NASCAR for implementing that type of system and we will see how the process plays out moving forward.”

WHERE DO YOU RANK YOUR DAYTONA 500 WIN AMONG YOUR CAREER ACCOMPLISHMENTS? “Winning Daytona is like winning a championship. It is one of the coolest things in stock car racing, to win Daytona. To hoist up that trophy and have that with us at Stewart-Haas, it is equivalent to winning the championship. I know Gene Haas was excited, everyone at Monster was ecstatic with the way it all came together last year in our first race back with Ford, it was a tremendous win.”

YOU ARE ABOUT TO GET YOUR CAR BACK FROM THE MUSEUM FROM LAST YEAR. WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THAT? YOU GET TO KEEP IT? “Hopefully we are pushing a 41 car back into the museum on Monday and we can just trade it out. The team is the one that has the rights to the car. I actually asked for that in my contract negotiation but didn’t get the rights to the car. It will be pushed into the front lobby area of Stewart-Haas and go right along with Harvick and Stewart’s championship cars. It is special to have a car like that. We will see. HOpefully we will push another one in there next Monday.

YOU SIGNED WITH AN AGENCY TO DO SOME TV WORK. WILL THAT BE OUTSIDE OF RACING OR IN THE RACING WORLD? “It is a wide range. No real specific category. Just trying to learn more about the TV side of things. There are so many connections whether it is live tv, film, commercials and the overall TV world.”

ANYTHING SPECIFIC THAT PEAKS YOUR INTEREST? YOU LOOKING TO ACT? “Oh man, I have been acting for 18 years in the garage area. No, it is fun to sign with those guys to learn more about the TV side of things. Whether it is with commentating, I love motorsports and think that is the biggest focus for me. If I am able to do anything in TV, I think it would be car related.”

DO YOU FEEL PRESSURE AT ALL TO REPEAT? IT HAS ONLY BEEN DONE THREE TIMES. “I feel the pressure. I like it. I want to bring home another trophy but mainly I want to do that because it has only been done three times for someone to go back-to-back. The pressure is there. Why is it difficult? I think it is just that you can’t go back to the same pattern from a year ago. Everything changes so quick. If you think you have mastered this track, you can never do that. You have to respect this track. You have to respect the race itself and you have to find new things each and every year when you come back here to apply and find the right spot to be in at the end of the race.”

WILL GRONK BE IN YOUR PIT AGAIN THIS YEAR? “I haven’t talked to Mitch Covington at Monster to know who is coming. It is always a fun surprise for who is coming to different events, who is doing different cross promotions. The Monster brand is so much fun to work for and to be a part of the Monster athlete fraternity. Each race there is somebody cool, somebody different. We will see who pops up next.”

LAST YEAR YOU STARTED ON SUCH A HIGH NOTE WITH YOUR MARRIAGE AND WINNING THE 500. HOW DID THAT HELP CARRY YOU THROUGH THE SEASON TO START ON SUCH A HIGH NOTE? “It was an incredible feeling to win the race but most importantly one of the most special moments of my life was getting married to Ashley and just sharing life together with her at the track and away from the track has been a wonderful time in my life. For her to experience the whole NASCAR world and to be an athlete like herself, to play polo and come into the NASCAR world and take it all in. There has been so much love and connection between the two of us. That motivation to go out there and win each week has never been stronger for me. I like the fact that I am able to go out and support her with her polo and be there for her events. It is a unique balance.”

THIS USED TO BE THE HANDLING TRACK AND TALLADEGA THE POWER TRACK OF THE SUPERSPEEDWAYS. DO YOU EXPECT THE NEW RIDE HEIGHT RULE TO PUT MORE HANDING BACK IN THE TRACK HERE? “Yeah, the way the cars will be pinned to the ground, it is the first time really that we are looking at moving around nose weight and the balance of the car to adjust the handling. We haven’t done that really here in Daytona for eight years. They repaved it in 2011, so since then it has been no handling issues whatsoever. I am really excited about this time around to hopefully see what the tire wear shows and how the balance of the car will shake out with the ride height rule.”

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