NASCAR CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
OCTOBER 1, 2020
KURT BUSCH, NO. 1 GEARWRENCH CAMARO ZL1 1LE, met with media via teleconference and discussed the recently announced 2021 schedule, road course racing, his strategy for upcoming races at Talladega and the Roval, what it was like to win at his hometown track in Las Vegas, and more. Full Transcript:
YOU’VE HAD A LOT OF PAST SUCCESS AT BRISTOL. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE BRISTOL SPRING RACE MOVING TO DIRT NEXT YEAR?
“I think it’s a huge move. It’s exciting. And, it’s fun because yes, it’s something different. But Bristol is a place to host events. With the colossal TV, the different bar areas that I see popping-up, and high-top tables, and different viewing/seating sections and areas opening up, they have the facility to do whatever they want. We saw a football game in there a few years ago. So, with dirt and this NASCAR race early in the year, I think it works. The tough part is going to be 40 race cars that are big and heavy; and, on the dirt, how much are we going to change that track’s conditions? Think of big, heavy cars cooking that clay and it’s going to be dry and slick in a hurry. I don’t know how many laps we’re going to run or how the format will be set-up, but the cars are going to look like they’re in slow motion is my biggest fear. But overall, the fun factor is going to be through the roof.”
HOW DO YOU TAKE THAT EXCITING WIN IN LAS VEGAS LAST WEEK INTO TALLADEGA? HOW DO YOU TAKE THAT DRIVE, THAT MOMENTUM, AND THAT RUSH OF A WIN WHEN YOU STRAP-IN AND ROLL-OFF?
“It’s been an awesome week. It’s been a great week of reflection and celebration. The fun of winning at your hometown track, and then for it to be Vegas, it’s been through the roof and I’ve lived it up. And today is a team meeting shortly, and it’s to really zone-in on what we need to do at Talladega to be as competitive as we can be. And it’s the same Thursday meeting that we have every week. And so now it’s time to come off the Vegas run and laser-focus-in on Talladega. And from what I’ve told my guys and from what I believe we need to do is to not let up off the gas. It’s to stay on it hard. To go for Stage wins, Stage points, to be up-front; if we wreck-out, so be it. We’re still going to advance. But we need to go and keep the pressure on and get as many points as possible these next two weeks with Talladega and the Roval coming up.”
YOU HAVE EIGHT TOP-5’S AT TALLADEGA AND YOU’LL START SECOND THERE. HOW MUCH WOULD A WIN AT TALLADEGA MEAN TO YOU TO GET THAT JOB DONE?
“Well, I’d almost do the same thing and grab that checkered flag and just like point it at the track itself, because that track has taken away so many wins for me with either leading on the last lap, running second, having a yellow come out or not having a yellow come out, and running out of gas, or getting passed, or making the wrong move. Talladega, I feel like, has slipped through my hands more times than now. And I run consistent. I run well there. I feel comfortable. But it’s definitely been one of those tough tracks where I don’t have that win. And it would be great to check that box off, so we may as well keep rolling with checking off these boxes.”
COULD YOU TALK ABOUT THE EMOTION OF FINALLY WINNING AT YOUR HOME TRACK IN LAS VEGAS?
‘It’s an emotional win. It’s one where you have so many emotions from the love and the family and the friends that helped me get to NASCAR in the first place; and just the feeling of Vegas and how much time I spent there as a racer and as a kid. The volunteer crew members (like) Craig Keough from Star Nursery and my mom was out there this weekend and her friends. What was so cool is like afterwards, I made a couple of texts and I said 11 pm South Point bar. Everybody already knew where we were going to meet up at which bar it was. I asked Brendan Gaughan if he could help rope off an area to keep things private and safer and more secure with the COVID and everything. And he’s like man, I just ran the Baja 500 and finished second and I’m going to shower-up and I’ll be right there. I wasn’t going to go out tonight, but I’ll be right there since it’s you. So, to have that comradery and that feeling and that energy from everybody has what’s made this so special.
“And it’s a lifelong dream to win at your hometown track no matter who and where or what hometown or who you are. And then to have it be Vegas, it was just that much more special. I woke up the next day to conference calls. I had a call with FOX television about the Truck Series broadcast. It was like 10am and I thought, you know what? It’s 1pm eastern and I’m going to crack a beer. And so I just had those couple of beers on the plane ride home and then another surprise of all the crew members and close people for our race team and Ganassi were at the Concord Regional Airport when we landed there, and another safe COVID-zone setting.”
DID YOU FEEL ANY RELIEF THAT YOU GOT THAT WIN IN THE FIRST RACE AND NOW YOU’RE SET FOR THE NEXT ROUND?
“Yeah, that’s what settles in and sinks in over the next couple of days. Sunday night, it was all Vegas. It was all the empty grandstands and the disappointment of not having people there. And then the connections of everybody’s spirit and people watching and helping me with that win and then it was like right, hey this is cool. We don’t have to worry about Talladega, which is a wildcard race. We don’t have to worry about the Roval, which things can happen pretty quickly there. If you win at the Roval, you’re automatically moving on to the next round and focused on that. So, we do have this two-weeks of what you could call a celebration. But at the same time, I told my guys when they met me at the airport, and we had a cold beer together and I said all right. Let’s finish this and let’s get to work. Let’s keep the gas on. Let’s go for Stage points and Stage wins and bank as many points as we can when we don’t have to worry about it.”
CAN YOU COMPARE THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A ROVAL-STYLE COURSE, WHICH WE’RE STARTING TO SEE MORE OF, WITH A PURPOSE-BUILT ROAD COURSE IN TERMS OF HOW YOU DRIVE THOSE AND HOW YOU ATTACK THEM? WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENCES?
“The Roval is a very unique road course. It’s built within a 1.5-mile oval track. So, a track very similar to the Roval is Daytona International Speedway’s road course; but it’s inside a 2.5-mile. So, the Roval is a bull in a china shop-feel because of how big and heavy our cars are in that tight little space with that many turns and that many chicanes. Whereas, what the 2021 schedule is branching out to is the Circuit of The Americas (COTA), a permanent-built Formula I-style course and Road America, a course that’s been up in Wisconsin for ages, decades back, probably after World War II; I don’t know when it was built, but it’s a four-mile course that’s spread out with a lot of high-speed straightaways. So, we’re seeing a variety of road courses being sprinkled into the NASCAR schedule, where they’re taking over some of the 1.5-miles, what people refer to as ‘cookie cutters’ tracks. They’re kind of being phased out right now. I think it’s a great trend.”
WITH THE NEXT GEN CAR RE-SCHEDULED FOR 2022, HOW WILL THAT IMPACT ANY DECISIONS REGARDING YOUR FUTURE IN NASCAR?
“Yeah, I was disappointed to learn that the Next Gen car was being pushed to 2022. So that’s now made me re-evaluate all the different scenarios that are out in front of me with racing; I’m in the Truck Series booth commentating all the Playoff races right now. I’ve got a phone call later today with Monster Energy about different races around the world and where do I want to go for some ‘bucket lists’ races. So, these were things that were already in motion pre-COVID. With everything going on with COVID and different schedule changes I’m seeing in NASCAR and the Next Gen car, there’s just too many. What I’m starting to explain to people is that I have a deck of cards sitting in front of me and I’ve still got to go through all 52 cards to prioritize which ones are more important to me.”
AS YOU LOOK AT THE ROUND OF 8, HOW DO YOU LOOK AT THOSE UPCOMING TRACKS LIKE KANSAS AND TEXAS AS WELL AS MARTINSVILLE?
“Yeah, we’re focused very heavily on Kansas. Texas especially. Martinsville has been a bit tougher for me over the years. But we’ve run consistently well with the Ganassi car there. We’re really focused on the 1.5-miles. That’s where we’ve had our success together at Ganassi. We won at Vegas. We’ve won at Kentucky. We’ve been right there in Texas, where a yellow in the same kind of sequence as Vegas, came out wrong for us and trapped us a lap down. Vegas finally, it happened to be on the positive side. So, we hope we gain points at Talladega and the Roval and keep pushing toward this. And now that we’re in the elite eight, we don’t want to squander this positioning away. We’re here for a reason. And we’re here to attack to win and try to get our ticket punched to Phoenix.”
Team Chevy high-resolution racing photos are available for editorial use.
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