NASCAR CUP SERIES
AUTOTRADER ECHOPARK AUTOMOTIVE 500
TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
OCTOBER 22, 2020
KURT BUSCH, NO. 1 MONSTER ENERGY CAMARO ZL1 1LE, met with media via teleconference and discussed last Sunday’s race at Kansas, his expectations for the Texas race, his mindset, and more. Full Transcript:
YOU HAD SUCH HIGH HOPES, AND THEN ENGINE FAILURE. EMOTIONALLY, HOW DID YOU COME OUT OF THE RACE IN KANSAS?
“That’s just part of the emotions and the ups and downs and everything that goes into NASCAR Cup racing. You prepare all week, all month, to build a car that’s going to take you to the next level in this Round of 8 at Kansas just didn’t turn out all that well for us with the engine failure. The things that led up to all of that, it’s just part of racing. Everybody prepared at the highest level at Hendrick Engines and of course, at Chip Ganassi Racing. And we just didn’t have the luck to get to the end of that race and to have a shot at winning.”
EVERYBODY WHO KNOWS KURT BUSCH KNOWS THERE’S NO GIVE-UP IN YOU AND THE MONSTER ENERGY TEAM. YOU ARE DOWN IN POINTS. HOW DO YOU LOOK AT IT?
“I look at it as I like Texas better anyway (laughs). We’re going to gas-it-up-hard at Texas. We ran really well there the last few races together as a unit at Chip Ganassi Racing. And what’s great is we were in position at the Spring race, actually it was a race in the Summer months of July, when Austin Dillon won; we were on the same pit sequence as he was; we took two tires just as he did, and he beat us off pit road. So, we were that close at having a shot at winning earlier this year. And so that gives us good motivation and good vibes and good feel to know that we’re close; and now we have to execute here in November to do the right things to win with cooler track temps.”
LOOK AHEAD A WEEK TO MARTINSVILLE AND THE APPROPRIATENESS OF HAVING AN OLD SCHOOL SHORT TRACK BE THE RACE THAT DECIDES WHO GETS TO RACE FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP ULTIMATELY
“Yeah, you look at it as a wild card. That’s how I see it. We’ve had the race at the ROVAL as a cutoff, we’ve had Talladega in years past as a restrictor-plate, wild card, cutoff race. And so, Martinsville is a track where you’re going to see all the front-runners running up front. Some are going to gamble on tires and have to race with elbows out and to move guys out of the way. And heck, you could be running third and the leaders take each other out and you get an invite to the championship round. There are going to be so many variables and so many wide-open chances for Martinsville; that’s why NASCAR chose to put that track as the cutoff.”
GOING BACK TO TEXAS, YOU HAVEN’T FINISHED OUTSIDE THE TOP 10 THERE SINCE 2016. AND ALSO, THROWING OUT LAST WEEK, YOU’VE BEEN FAIRLY CONSISTENT ON 1.5-MILE TRACKS THIS YEAR. DOES THAT MAKE IT A BIT EASIER TO RE-FOCUS YOURSELF AFTER LAST WEEK?
“We felt like we had two solid bullets in the chamber, at Kansas and Texas with this Round of 8. Martinsville, we’re not all that bad, either. The Ganassi team has helped me run better at that track. And so, we just have to adapt. Those new right-side tires that we’re going to have that was the same right-side that we won with at Vegas. It’s what everybody raced with at Kansas last week. And those are those things that you have to adapt to with no practice. And then what you have to do to win. It’s understanding all the little things that make up big differences.”
IN LIGHT OF YOUR ENGINE FAILURE LAST WEEK, IS ANYTHING GOING TO BE DONE DIFFERENTLY TO THE ENGINE THIS WEEK AT TEXAS SINCE IT’S A SIMILAR-SIZED TRACK?
“I don’t believe so. As far as them, at Hendrick Engines, going through all the diagnostics and researching what had happened; there are still so many little details that have to add-up to what the final result was at Kansas. So, there’s just normal preparations; and in my mind, gassing it up as hard as we can for Texas because second place isn’t going to cut it at the end of the day. And so, if there’s a chance to go with something big, of course I’ve got my arm up as high as it can go; and I know that everybody will make the right decisions together on what we need to win at Texas.”
TALKING ABOUT MARTINSVILLE BEING A WILD CARD, GIVEN THERE IS SO MUCH AT STAKE, IF YOU’RE IN A POSITION WHERE YOU’VE GOT TO DO SOMETHING THAT MAYBE YOU MIGHT NOT WANT TO DO, DO YOU HAVE TO KIND OF PREPARE YOURSELF FOR THAT?
“Yeah, for me, I’m already past that line. I’m not even going to think about it. I’m going to do it. I feel like all the goodwill I’ve built up with other drivers, my position of being a veteran in this sport, and knowing what it takes to win a championship, I’ve put all the puzzle pieces in place. And we just have to have those puzzle pieces fit together seamlessly. And some of those are decision out on the track where you can’t hesitate. You just have to go. And, that’s where we’re not going to back down. It doesn’t matter who it is. We’ve got Matt Kenseth out there on the Ganassi side helping and other Chevy guys that aren’t in it. We’ve got to go up against these Toyotas and these Fords and these powerhouse teams, and we’re not looking at any kind of ill side effects, we’re going for it. And so that’s the tone and the mood for the No. 1 Monster Energy Chevy team.”
ON THE EMOTIONS OF LAST WEEK, HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN TO FANS HOW IT FEELS TO HAVE THE HIGH OF WINNING A RACE AND MAKING YOUR WAY INTO THE PLAYOFF ROUNDS AND THEN HAVE SUCH DEVASTATION DELIVERED IN THE OPENING RACE OF THE NEXT ROUND?
“It’s difficult to put it all into words. It’s a roller coaster, for sure. Everybody tuning in and watching, our social media following, different texts from friends and family members; it takes you on that ride even when the race is over. Over 500 texts were on my phone after winning Vegas. There were only about 50 after an engine blow (laughs). You can see just in that, how people want to react with a tough situation versus the enjoyment. And when you’re riding that roller coaster, and you’re at the top, everything looks great from up there. And then when you take the ride down and you hit that g-force at the bottom and you have that sinking pit feeling in your stomach, that’s exactly what an engine failure feels like. And yet, you’ve got to bounce back quick. That’s what Mark Martin told me early-on in my career. You’re going to have the highs. You’re going to have the lows. You’ve got to draw a line in the middle and get back there as fast as you can.”
CHEVROLET HAS THREE CARS IN THE ROUND OF 8. WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST DIFFERENCE THIS YEAR WITH CHEVY COMPARED TO LAST YEAR?
“I think the small things are making big differences. The re-evaluation of the Camaro, the understanding of this 550-horsepower package and how you have to have every horsepower on the dyno counting toward your effort on race weekends. It seems like the wind tunnel time and the work back and forth between all Chevy teams, with Hendrick and Richard Childress Racing and Chip Ganassi Racing and even JTG, it feels like the wind tunnel stuff has been shared more so, and the engine data; and even just with the collaboration of racing on restrictor-plate races, we’ve done a better job in all categories. So, it’s not one thing that’s made a difference. I think it’s just chipping away at having more darts hit the dartboard.”
USUALLY BY THIS POINT IN THE SEASON, YOU’VE HAD A LONG YEAR WITH WEEKENDS FILLED WITH PRACTICE AND QUALIFYING AND RACING. THIS YEAR IS DIFFERENT WITH THE PANDEMIC LAYOFF. HOW DO YOU FEEL MENTALLY AT THE END OF THE SEASON? DO YOU FEEL LESS FATIGUE AND BETTER GOING INTO THE FINAL THREE RACES?
“Yeah, I feel like there’s always that mindset of how to manage the time and how to manage the season and when to peak, so to speak, with all elements. With no practice and no qualifying, days such as Friday and Saturday that are opened up, that’s when you pour all of your energy toward that Sunday and getting the best out of the car all through the stages and through the race and try to win. And then for us at Chip Ganassi Racing, the win at Vegas a couple of weeks ago, we’re still on a hot air balloon ride. It feels great to be up there, and that’s where we want to stay. There could be ten races left this year. We’re still going to go after it just as hard.”
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