MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
SOUTH POINT 400
LAS VEGAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
SEPTEMBER 13, 2019
KURT BUSCH, NO. 1 GEARWRENCH CAMARO ZL1, met with media to discuss the progress of his plans for the 2020 season, his relationship with Monster Energy, the importance of personalities in branding of the sport, and more. Full Transcript:
BEFORE YOU MAKE THE DECISION ON COMING BACK TO GANASSI, WOULD YOU HAVE ANY INTEREST IN RUNNING THE INDIANPOLIS 500 AGAIN? IS THAT ONE OF THE THINGS THAT WOULD COME INTO PLAY?
“It’s just a matter of all the different categories lining up, as far as the sponsorships and manufacturer. Yes, Indy is a question. That was one of the things that brought attention towards moving to Ganassi. Even with the sportscar program, there are things around it and I’m just trying to weigh it all out. Again, it’s about focusing on the Playoffs right now and getting the most that we can out of our No. 1 car to make sure we have the strongest Playoff run possible. We have just kind of pushed that off to the side a little bit.”
HOW DID YOU FEEL AFTER FIRST PRACTICE?
“As far as practice, yeah that’s the reason why we’re here. We are getting our car dialed in. Right now, we have just done single car runs and we’ll run into some qualifying runs here shortly. Then, we’ll jump into as much traffic situations that we can find to try to double check the balance, low grove and middle grove. When we raced here in March, the high groove in three and four was the first ever time that I’ve seen the Cup guys up there. So, I believe that will be a factor in Sunday’s race. We’ll see. We have nightfall as well and that will be the first time we’ve raced under the lights here at Las Vegas. I think that’s a great look for everything and everybody thinks of Vegas as the Strip and the skyline at night. It’s tough to have a race at night and still get everybody down to the casinos for gambling, fun and shows afterward. So, it’s a nice start time. It will be a little warm, but I hope everybody can get out of here at a decent time and gets back to the casinos.”
THE TRUCK GUYS HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT GRASSHOPPERS ON THE TRACK. HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT AT ALL?
“There were a few extra splatters on the windshield, but I didn’t know it was the grasshoppers. I did hear about the grasshopper migration, but again, you always have to be ready for anything. Whether it’s the quick-dry buildup that gets into the front grill and into the radiator or a grasshopper; you have you make sure you don’t get caught by something by surprise.”
WITH RESTARTS BEING SO IMPORTANT THIS YEAR AND IT SEEMS LIKE THAT’S WHEN THE CARS ARE MOST ABLE TO PASS, DO YOU GO BACK AND VIEW ANY VIDEO FOOTAGE OF PAST RACES OR AT THIS TRACK TO SEE WHERE YOU COULD MAYBE GAIN AN ADVANTAGE ON A RESTART OVER A DRIVER?
“Absolutely. Right now, pit stops and restarts are the biggest zone to gain spots or lose spots. We’ve got a former driver that helps us at Ganassi, Josh Wise. All of us bounce ideas off of each other and we started to go back to tracks for the second time, like Pocono and Michigan, and now we are here at Vegas. This was really one of the first races where we had these big, big restarts. The information is now on video from what we have this year. Otherwise, every video we were watching was from 2018 and it wasn’t relevant. So yes, it’s a whole new chapter that you have to invest time into to perfect it.”
WITH MONSTER, OBVIOUSLY BEING AN EDGY SPONSER IN THE INDUSTRY, HOW DOES HAVING THEM ON THE CAR ALLOW YOU TO DO SOME THINGS THAT OTHER SPONSORS IN THE PAST HAVEN’T ALLOWED YOU TO DO?
“For me, it’s a perfect connection of a sponsor and having an organic delivery of somebody’s personality fitting within a brand. Dale Jr., when he was Budweiser, seemed like the truest look of a driver and a sponsor. That’s what I told Monster, I said that I feel like I’m you guys, you guys are me and let’s do this NASCAR thing together. It has been incredible. We are getting close to almost a decade together. Monster’s branding and the way we feed off of each other is called a lifestyle in a can. You drink it, you feel it, and you want to be a part of their promotions and their different activities outside of NASCAR. Times when I’m going to the X Games to hang out with other Monster athletes, it’s because I volunteered to go. Then, you end up on TV doing interviews or hanging out with a snowmobiler. Monster called and wanted me in New York City one year for New Years Eve because they were throwing a big party up there, but also PBR riders were up there and the next thing you know, I have the microphone at the Madison Square Garden in front of 18,000 people rooting them on and promoting Monster at the same time. It’s a lot of fun wherever we go, whether it’s Supercross, sport cars or Formula 1. I was in France earlier this year with Chip Ganassi at Le Mans and Monster is looking at that. They are over in Australia looking at different ways to promote their brand there. Asia is a market they want to push harder in and I’m always sitting there like yeah, let’s go race cars wherever. Again, that all comes back into the decision on my contract here for full-time NASCAR. That’s what makes it fun, to have a brand like them to do cool things with. We always tease each other like, what’s next? Like this week, I was on David Spade’s Comedy Central show with the car parked right in the audience. I didn’t know we would take seats away from the audience, but the car was right there and I was hanging out with Jay Leno and David Spade, and we were having fun with things. NASCAR helped set some of that stuff up and it’s great to do those promotions together.”
DO YOU SEE THE OPENESS FOR BIG PERSONALITIES OR IS IT STILL KIND OF A STRUGGLE?
“I have the luxury with Monster Energy, the fun we get to have and the barriers aren’t really set up for me. That’s what I ended up looking for because I know what Brad (Keselowski) was talking about and I agree with Brad on his main point. Winning is everything, that is what this sport is about and that’s why sponsors want to be involved. You are giving their brand on opportunity to show the world that they are winners and that they can advertise in a unique atmosphere. But what Brad (Keselowski) is referring to is what I ran into with Shell Pennzoil; my personality didn’t fit that brand and that’s why there was a problem. That’s why I found a perfect relationship with Monster. It’s ideal, it works, they understand motorsports and that’s what we have to continue to cultivate more of. It’s an opportunity for brands to come into NASCAR and the driver has to have its personality and we have to have the right marketing campaign with it. It all has to work together in a cohesive way.”
AFTER YOU DO ALL OF THE MEDIA DAY THINGS YESTERDAY AND THEN COME TO THE TRACK TODAY, FANS WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE ABLE TO DO TO RELAX.
“It’s a busy schedule. It’s a lifestyle that we are all committed to and you recharge on Tuesday or Wednesday like anybody else. Our weekends are racing, but then we can find a couple of days where it’s quite on a Tuesday or Wednesday to recharge. Again, it gets back to nutrition, hydration, working out, stretching, it’s a process. The younger guys can get away with certain things when going hard. Something you missed on our schedule was the charity bowling event last night at the South Point with Speedway Children Charities. We raised close to $70,000 with bowling. It’s a process we all have to do to make sure you find the right time for everything. You blend it into the seven days. All of our energy is peaked at the green flag start on race day.”
YOUR CREW CHIEF IS AN ENGINEER AND FORMER RACER, WHICH IS KIND OF UNIQUE. WHAT ARE SOME OF HIS STRENGTHS AND WHAT HAS HE BROUGHT TO YOU THIS YEAR THAT MAYBE SOME OF YOUR OTHER CREW CHIEFS DIDN’T?
“His demeanor is very calm and yet, when he says something, he knows that he doesn’t have to say it twice. When he’s saying the direction that they are heading with certain things, everybody listens and they are onboard. Yet, his delivery is very calm and he doesn’t get rattled with things that might go wrong at tech, if the driver is chirping in his ears, or if the balance changes from things they learned in the wind tunnel. He applies it and he moves forward. I think Matt McCall is a diamond in the rough, he reminds me a lot of Cole Pearn. He is an engineer and also a former late model racer. The way he approaches his craft, you can tell he’s a racer and he’s a perfectionist. Right now, it’s just a matter of going through enough lessons to perfect his craft. We ran out of fuel at Michigan earlier this year, he said I need you to save two laps. So, as I was trying to save fuel during that run, he said I need you to save a little more, but we’re good or you’re doing good. We ended up running out going down the back straightaway and after the race, those lessons of you needed to be more assertive on the radio and you needed to tell me that we were not good needed to be communicated a little bit differently. It’s just those little things that I think Matt (McCall) is on the verge of completing and we can grab another gear once we get through some of those.”
Team Chevy high-resolution racing photos are available for editorial use.
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