MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTOR SPEEDWAY
FOXWOODS RESORT CASINO 301
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
JULY 19, 2019
KURT BUSCH, NO. 1 MONSTER ENERGY CAMARO ZL1, met with media and discussed his contributions to various race teams, the importance of family and racing with his brother, Kyle Busch, a few of the boxes he’s like to check during his racing career, and more. Full Transcript:
WHEN IS THE LAST TIME IN YOUR CAREER THAT YOU REMEMBER HAVING THIS MUCH FUN?
“It’s always funny. Like when people are telling different stories. Yeah, like back in the day, when it was fun. And, I’ve been trying to remind everybody, or just influence the fact that no, this is right now and this is fun. It wasn’t more fun then. We’ll look back on this a go, yeah, it takes time for things to settle-in and sink-in. But, for me when I first came into the series, a 22-year-old kid from Vegas who had to cut my way through some pretty heavy areas to make it to the top. You’re still nervous that you don’t know if you’re going to make it stick or make it to where you’re going to be around for a long while. I’ve had a blast with every team. And, it’s just a matter of keeping it competitive and at that top edge. Over the years, it just feels like the older I get, the easier it is to accept some of the tougher days. And then, to enjoy the big days with more excitement, and more of a passion and more fun. It’s tough, though. Mark Martin said hey, you’re going to have some good days and some bad days. Just try to draw a nice line and keep it there. And, ever since I met Ashley, there are no bad days. And everything is up here for excitement and fun. I would say that right now, with Monster and Chip Ganassi, and everything that’s going on, it’s a blast. Each week is fun because there’s speed to be found and teamwork to work on to make sure we’re going to have the best weekend. And it brings it back to that passion and desire when I was younger to go out there each week and try to make sure we’re getting the most out of each session.”
AFTER THE RACE LAST WEEK YOU WERE ASKED WHERE YOU NEED TO BE TO IMPROVE AND YOU SAID YOU FELT LIKE YOU NEEDED TO GET BETTER ON SHORT TRACKS AND LOWER-GRIP TRACKS, AND TO THE TEAM HEY LET’S INVEST ON GETTING BETTER ON THESE TRACKS. WOULD THIS BE A PLACE LIKE THAT? WERE THE COMMENTS WELL-RECEIVED? DO YOU FEEL LIKE MAYBE THE TEAM IS PUTTING IN AN EXTRA EFFORT NOW THAT YOU’VE WON AND HAVE QUALIFIED FOR THE PLAYOFFS?
“Yeah, I feel like a few weeks back we were leading into the half-way point. And I left some bullet points with some of the top engineers and management on this category or that category. And then with the way that Daytona went for us, where it was so close to a win; but yet, okay, what else do we need to position ourselves better to be closer to wins? That’s when some other bullet points from other engineers popped-up. And (Kyle) Larson’s evaluation where he feels where the No. 42 car is; and yes, that has opened-up more talks about building different style cars for different style tracks instead of just trying to use a 1.5-mile-style car for a short track. There are things that Gibbs is doing. There are things that Penske is doing. We have to apply it the best way that we can. And, some of it’s through the motivation of Chip Ganassi, Rob Kauffman, and Felix Sabates to get it to that A-plus level. It’s been well received. You can’t just completely tip over the apple cart mid-season, especially when things are going good. But, it’s looking ahead to the future and what we can do to make sure that we make the best Playoff run this year; and look at things for 2020 and beyond.”
“Yeah, to finish your question, this is a short track, low-grip; this is where if we have a good run this weekend, then we have turned a good corner. If we struggle a little bit, it shows that this is that weakness for us and we have to get that fixed.”
HOW DID YOU END UP GETTING HOME LAST WEEK?
“The Ganassi team plane, they reserve seats on Victory Air. So, there’s like six different crew-member planes that a bunch of guys jump on. And so they held us and we got on that. I think there were maybe three or four seats left on the whole plane itself. And so Ashley and I jumped on that plane and we got home around 4:15 a.m.”
YOU MENTIONED LOOKING AT 2020 AND BEYOND. AFTER THE RACE, YOU SAID ON MONDAY YOU WERE GOING TO START LOOKING AT CONTRACTS AND THINGS OF THAT NATURE. HAVE YOU STARTED THE BALL ROLLING? I GET THE INDICATION YOU HAVE NO DESIRE TO GO ANYWHERE
“It doesn’t matter if I’m driving in 2020 and beyond. It would be what I’d want to do to help a program or to give my knowledge and to be part of a team and to make things work here for 2019 and continue to improve whether I’m driving or I’m not, to help all of Ganassi. It’s just a matter of if I’m driving or I’m not. I’m still going to do my job to make sure we are progressing and pushing toward the future on what I believe is important and what they want to do to apply it and what they believe is important and what I have to listen to.”
IT DOESN’T SOUND LIKE YOU HAVE ANY INTENTION TO STOP DRIVING
“You’re asking me all these fun questions when everything is on a high. When everything is great and we’re coming out of Victory Lane and having fun scavenging rides home and just living at the top level. We’ll see how things all piece together. I don’t have all the full answers, but things are all pointing in the right direction to be teamed-up together and to continue to race and to win races and to run at a championship. I mean I haven’t thought about other than through your question. But if I’m able to make a run at the championship, that could change things as well, and that wouldn’t happen until the week of Thanksgiving.”
LOOKING AHEAD TO POCONO, THEY ARE GOING TO US THE PJ1 THERE. LEARNING WHAT YOU DID WITH THE NEW CAR CONFIGURATION THE LAST TIME WE WERE THERE, HOW DO YOU THINK IT’S GOING TO CHANGE THE COMPLEXION OF RACING WHEN WE RETURN?
“It’ll definitely help with creating different lanes and being able to produce a lap time not in the optimum groove. That’s been the tough part about Pocono and some of the other tracks. The optimum groove is utilized and that’s where the best lap time comes from. Therefore, there’s not a lot of passing for the lead. If we can create a second lane or third option and be able to run a really good lap time, as the second or third place guy, then you have a chance at passing the leader. So, I think it’s a good option to try out. You have to commend the tracks and Goodyear and NASCAR and the drivers all working together to find the best product.
STARTING WITH RYAN NEWMAN IN 2002, JIMMIE JOHNSON IN 2003, AND YOU IN 2004, THERE ARE SIX DRIVERS IN THE FIELD THIS WEEK THAT HAVE THREE WINS APIECE AT THIS TRACK THROUGH VARIOUS GENERATIONS OF RACE CARS. WHAT IS IT ABOUT THIS PLACE? IS IT A FEEL THAT YOU GET THAT CARRIES THROUGH ALL THAT TIME AND RULE CHANGES AND LETS YOU CONTINUE TO BE SUCCESSFUL?
“Yeah, there are certain tracks that when you find a nice set-up, that it stays hot for a while and you’re able to use it the next time you come back because not much changed; whether it’s been aero or the tires. I remember in 2004 when I swept the two races here, the second race had a lot of weather issues and we didn’t get a lot of practice time. So, we were all forced to use the set-up that we used at the first race. That helped us as a race-winning team to be able to sweep the races that year. It’s similar to Bristol. If you find that right set-up, it works for a little bit.”
YOU’VE REALLY RAISED THEIR BAR AT EVERY TEAM YOU’VE BEEN WITH AND EVEN SOME TEAMS THAT WERE STRUGGLING. WHAT IS IT ABOUT YOU THAT YOU’RE ABLE TO DO THAT NO MATTER WHERE YOU GO AND WHAT TEAM IT IS THAT YOU’RE ABLE TO BRING THEM UP?
“I appreciate that. I started out racing with my dad and when I was with my dad, we didn’t have a big racing budget. We were just kind of scraping it together. He taught me a lot about communication and he would ask me so many questions. As a 16 year-old, I felt frustrated. I was like really? I’ve got to analyze the car this much? And he goes well, if you do that, it makes my job easier to help you with the set-up. And so when you learn at and early age and from a successful racer like my dad was, it gets instilled in you on how to communicate the proper things with the car and gives you that confidence to know what you want changed in the car and to help. And then there are days when it can hurt, though, where I’m so confident where I know what I want with the car and the crew chief didn’t get it to me that there’s that frustration with it. And so, it’s just a matter of trying to help the crew chief and engineering and everybody. I want their jobs to be easier because if their jobs are easier, they are doing better and ultimately the car that I’m driving will have better results.”
YOU MENTIONED THAT THE TITLE SCENARIO MIGHT IMPACT HOW OR IF YOU RACE NEXT YEAR. CAN YOU IMAGINE A BETTER SCENARIO THAT RIDING OFF INTO THE SUNSET LIKE THAT? IF YOU WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP, WHAT WOULD BRING YOU BACK NEXT YEAR?
‘It’s always hard to play ‘what if’. I don’t want to put too much ahead of it and it would be the ultimate scenario, right? And with everything that’s been accomplished in my career, that’s what has allowed me to also have more fun. I’ve got a lot of boxes checked-off. Even last year, to get my first-ever superspeedway pole at Talladega, last October; not a lot of guys would put much emphasis in that category, but it’s like all right. Now I have a pole on short tracks, road courses, intermediates, and finally a superspeedway pole finally. That’s what’s made this fun. And so, what would bring me back is if like Monster Energy, Global Poker, GearWrench, and everybody’s putting together their advertising campaign and how they want to push to sell more product, that’s where it would hit home for me here. And then I would react to what we want to do together to make sure everybody is feeling the benefits. Selling more stuff, having more fun at the track, and ultimately for me, I would then be approaching 42, 43-years old. There’s a lot of young talent out there and it would be that chance to maybe pick the guy or the girl who is going to come up and drive after I’m done racing.”
“Good question. Another championship ultimately. More playoff wins. And again, the last few years I haven’t led a lot of laps and I want to lead some more laps and be up front. I don’t know the exact boxes. Let me reevaluate and I’ll get back to you.”
TALK ABOUT HOW IMPORTANT FAMILY IS IN RACING EVEN WHEN YOU GET TO THE POINT WHERE YOU ARE NOW
“I would say ninety percent of everybody that’s made it to this top Cup level and if you’re a winner, it helped with the way you got here by family. Family is what really helps keep the drive alive, so to speak. With the travel that it takes go to when you’re first starting out and the money that it takes because racing is very different than stick and ball sports. You have to have extra money for sets of tires and the fuel and crash damage and things that it takes. So the time and investment from a set of parents, that’s something that Kyle (Busch) and I are very grateful for. Our mom and dad didn’t sacrifice much and we went to the track with as little and as much as we could and made the best of it. And, Dad was there to teach me. I felt like I was there to teach Kyle along with my dad teaching Kyle. And it was really neat. Like I was racing Late Models, struggling in college, and didn’t know how far I’d get because Mom was like, you probably need to get a real job. This racing thing is really starting to take over your life and we’re almost out of money. And yet, my little brother was just starting out at the age of 12 in Legend cars. And I wanted to help him as much as I could. So, family has always been there. It’s great to race Kyle at this top level. I always have to remind people a lot that Kyle and I didn’t race against each other much when we were kids just because we are seven years apart. So anytime I was bumping up in a racing division, he was never there racing until we got ultimately to this Monster Energy Cup Series level. And so this is where we’ve had the most races against one another. The family-side is still there. It’s fun. Kyle and I have got to deal with each other a lot and that’s why it’s no sweat for him to drop me on a plane ride because I’m going to see him the next week and I can give him some flack for it. So, it’s really fun. The family aspect, the team aspect, and everything that goes into all this and there’s a lot to it. I’m checking the boxes off. I have yet to win the Southern 500 and yet to win at Indianapolis. Those are the top two. And if I can find a third for my trifecta, I want to win at Watkins Glen really bad.”
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is one of the world’s largest car brands, doing business in more than 100 countries and selling more than 4.0 million cars and trucks a year. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature engaging performance, design that makes the heart beat, passive and active safety features and easy-to-use technology, all at a value. More information on Chevrolet models can be found at www.chevrolet.com.