NASCAR CUP SERIES
LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
SOUTH POINT 400
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
SEPTEMBER 24, 2020
KURT BUSCH, NO. 1 MONSTER ENERGY CAMARO ZL1 1LE, met with media via teleconference and discussed the heat and other challenges of the upcoming Las Vegas race, the pressure of the next 2 races at Talladega and the Roval, the importance of points, and more. Full Transcript:
GOODYEAR HAS CHANGED THE RIGHT-SIDE TIRE FOR LAS VEGAS FROM WHAT YOU RAN EARLIER THIS YEAR, TO HAVE MORE GRIP. HOW DO YOU THINK THAT WILL HAVE AN IMPACT?
“I feel like each race track we go to and each tire combination, and then the PJ1 spray compound, and even the application of how they spray it, changes it each and every week. And so, we’ve learned to just be on our toes. We researched through the Truck races, the Xfinity races, and it’s not a proven science on what all the combinations led to, and again, you have to adapt and roll with it. So, we’ll see how it plays out. I was hoping the Bristol tire would have a little bit more grip like they had said, but it was fairly close to where we were with the previous race. So, a lot of factors where temperature and other things all come into play.”
THE MGM GRAND IN VEGAS HAD A PICTURE OF YOU AND YOUR BROTHER ON THEIR MARQUEE. WHEN YOU SAW THAT, WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS?
“Yeah, I thought it was fabulous. As a kid, I always had a dream or vision and a push to try to be on the marquee of any of the hotels. To have that on there and to not have fans at the race track, it’s all kind of the way that all different things are looked at right now with advertising. And so, I saw the NBC Sports logo at the bottom, the MGM Resorts chain of hotels helps with putting that up there, of course. It’s just neat to see the love for the hometown boys. And with NASCAR in town without fans at the track, we’re hoping people tune-into NBCSN. You’ve got to find different ways to advertise and to pump people up and to get the word out. And so that was great from MGM Resorts.”
KYLE BUSCH HAS POSTED VIDEO OF HIS SON BREXTON, AND YOUR DAD AND MOM, AND THE WHOLE FAMILY. DOES THAT REMIND YOU OF WHEN YOU WERE LEARNING TO RACE WITH YOUR MOM AND DAD GOING TO ALL THE TRACKS?
“Yeah, it’s great memories. Ashley and I were over at the dirt track on the first few of his outings to make sure we were there on the first trip to go watch him drive on the track and hold the pedal down and go fast. It immediately brought me back to when I saw my little brother do the same thing and head out onto the track for his first time. And I know it does that for my dad and my mom when they see a grandchild out there racing. So, it’s just neat to see the timeline. I need to find more time to separate on whether it’s the Tuesdays over at Millbridge (Speedway, in Salisbury, NC) or on Saturdays over at the other track. I just need to find my time to be a better uncle and to be more involved.”
WHAT WOULD IT MEAN TO YOU TO FINALLY GET A WIN AT LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY AND TO DO IT WITHOUT FANS?
“The Vegas track has definitely been one of the tough ones for me over the years with results and finishes not where I would have expected them to be. And, the teams that I’ve race for just have never quite found that right magic set-up or combination. And then for me, It’s a track that I just have that trouble with. There are a few tracks like Indianapolis and Martinsville; those are a few places where I struggle. And so with Vegas, I always put that little extra hometown pressure on myself and I would love to win there. I would love to win through the spirit of the camera and everything on NBC Sports; and I know the fans there, local, will be watching and cheering on the Busch brothers. So, that’s where I would connect. And hopefully do it through the TV side of it. We’ll get fans back one day and we’ll come back and race.”
ON ROSS CHASTAIN JOINING CHIP GANASSI RACING IN 2021:
“I feel like Ross Chastain is a perfect addition to Chip Ganassi Racing. Ross has done an incredible job to race hard and to promote himself and to battle through this perseverance. Some of the sponsorship changes at Ganassi over the years left him somewhat out of a ride with the Xfinity side of things. The kid is one of those true family-man workers that helps with the family business and has this passion for racing, and he reminds me a lot of myself; and just has true grit and the way that he just keeps pushing and has now landed that first big time contract. So, I’m very proud of Ross and I know he’ll bring that same tenacity and drive to the organization as a teammate. And I couldn’t think of a better kid to try to help out to get him established in the Cup Series.”
HOW IMPORTANT IS COMING OUT OF THE LAS VEGAS IN GOOD SHAPE WITH THE UNCERTAINTY OF TALLADEGA AND THE CHARLOTTE ROVAL?
“That’s why they’re all in this mix and that’s why they are Playoff race tracks in this round, or in any of the rounds. They are all difficult tracks. They’re all a challenge for their own reasons. And, a 1.5-mile, you could look at as being sort of a standard type of flow with pit calling and pit stop and racing. But a place like Vegas fits into a track like Texas, as well; where you can change just left-side tires like we saw Austin Dillon do to win the Texas race earlier this year. So, there are all the different strategies and different things playing out. There are two Hendrick cars now not in the Playoffs, but they’re fast. Same thing with Gibbs. You’ve got the No. 20 car, Eric Jones, not in the Playoffs but he’s fast. Those are points that those guys could take away from the contenders that are still left in the situations they’re in. So, you’ve just got to race hard and race smart. There are three ways to get points each and every weekend: Stage 1, Stage 2, and the finish of the race. And, that happens at all the race tracks.”
WHERE IS SUPERSPEEDWAY RACING RIGHT NOW IN TERMS OF ALL THESE DIFFERENT ELEMENTS THAT WE’VE SEEN OVER THE PAST FEW YEARS?
“I remember winning Daytona a few years ago. I had this Adrenalin quote of something I can’t even remember I said. The more that we race on these restrictor-plate tracks, the more they become unpredictable, to be predictable and to not be predictable. I don’t even know what I said. It kind of sounded right but again, there is no constant in these superspeedway races. I was running fourth behind William Byron with 15 laps to go a few weeks ago for that Playoff cutoff race to get in. And, he peels off and pits, and I’m like, where’s he going? That’s the stupidest call I’ve ever seen. We just now bumped-up a row. After the restart, I was leading the inside lane. And then, I get wiped-out in a wreck the next lap. And there he is with fresh tires, just navigating through everybody, and comes back and wins it after he pitted from third place with 15 laps to go. And that’s what all the restrictor plate races have turned into being.”
THE WEATHER IS EXPECTED TO BE HOT AT LAS VEGAS. HOW MUCH HAVE YOU BEEN HYDRATING TO PREPARE? DOES THE HEAT ALSO MEAN THE TRACK WILL BE SLICK?
“Yeah, Vegas, I’m glad it’s back a couple of weeks from where it was last year for the first time in the Playoffs. It’s going to be a 105-degree heat index. We had that earlier this year at Texas. And guys had some trouble there. Austin Dillon, the winner, and myself; we needed fluids after the race. At the Daytona road course, tons of guys had trouble in that 110-degree heat index. So, Vegas, it’s dry heat. It’s a little different. But still, it’s one of these races that you have to hydrate, you have to stretch, you have to acclimate your body to the heat going into the race. By sitting in your hot motor home or your hot rental car to try to have your body forewarned that extra heat is coming. And so, it’s a sequence. And I have a great trainer with Josh Wise at Ganassi, that helps all the drivers in the Chevrolet camp be their best when they get to the race track. And the track will be hot as well. It’ll be super-slick compared to where it races in February and March.”
YOU HAVE TAKEN ON A LEADERSHIP ROLE AT CHIP GANASSI RACING. HOW MUCH DO YOU EMBRACE THAT ROLE AND DOES IT HELP YOU INSIDE YOUR CAR TO BE THAT ‘VETERAN QUARTERBACK’ FOR LACK OF A BETTER TERM?
“I figured it was time for some change and to adapt to my age and utilize my experience the best way possible. And that’s to create that level headedness, to create the leadership/mentor role; I feel like it’s this time in my life it’s great to give back to young engineers and young crew members to help them come up through the ranks quicker and better and stronger. And so, it’s just a nice fit as well, with Chip Ganassi. Racing for a legend like him who has that tenacity and who has that fire and desire to win every single week. There’s only so much room for those big egos and he helps me moderate mine. And that’s part of the combination of why it works so well and being able to deliver good results over there.”
WHERE DO YOU FEEL YOUR TEAM SITS RIGHT NOW IN THE ROUND OF 12?
“What I like is we have had better lap times at all three races so far compared to maybe the five or six races leading into the Playoffs. So, I look at Darlington as a pretty solid result. We had one really good pit stop and one bad one mixed together and that’s where we fell back to eighth place. I feel like our lap times at Richmond were solid; but we were on a pit strategy from our engineering crew. And from our data that said we should go this route, and it took us from running sixth, we led some laps, but it took us all the way back to 13th. So, that was a big mistake on losing points. And then at Bristol, we were running pretty strong. I felt like we were a Top 5 car and then ended up with a loose wheel. And so, we had to battle back. But a lot of other guys had trouble as well at Bristol. So, we’re on to the next round. We know that our cushion is gone. We ended Bristol with 33-points to the good. And now we start Vegas minus four. So that’s just part of the system and now we have to be perfect. We have to get every point possible that we’re able to get on our own at Vegas, Talladega, and the Roval. And, that should help us advance.”
YOU ARE A TECHNICALLY MINDED DRIVER. IN YOUR POST-DRIVING CAREER HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT OF PUTTING ON THE CREW CHIEF HAT?
“That is probably the toughest position in NASCAR. I think it’s the most under-rated position. And, for me to be a crew chief, I tried it one time for my little brother when he was in an ARCA car at Charlotte. And I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I had no idea what was going on, all the expectations, all the responsibility. I don’t see myself being a crew chief. I even struggle to this day with pit strategy calls from the race car. And so, I think more of a mentor or a driver coach would be down the right avenue; not a crew chief.”
Team Chevy high-resolution racing photos are available for editorial use.
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.