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Post-Race Comments From Dickies 500 Winner Kurt Busch

by TMS Media Relations | Nov 08, 2009

POST-RACE COMMENTS FROM DICKIES 500 WINNER KURT BUSCH, DRIVER OF THE NO. 2 MILLER LITE DODGE CHARGER:
"Unbelievable!  I’m proud of our team and everybody pulling together hard.  Racing my little brother head to head for the win is bitter sweet.  I was rooting for him, but at the same time, we wanted to put our Miller Lite Dodge in victory lane.  We raced hard.  It was cat and mouse on those restarts.  Then it came down to the crew chief, Pat (Tryson) putting in the right calls and getting us the fuel mileage to bring it home."

Q:  CAN YOU TALK ABOUT TONIGHTS WIN? 

KURT BUSCH: “A full team effort all the way around.  From the pits stops to pit strategy to the guys back in the shop building a fast race car that I was a little apprehensive to bring to the race track.  It shows what I know and what they know.  Just keep me in the car and let them do the engineering.  And in the end, this makes a real solid team.  We were well rounded tonight with power, downforce, handling, and in the end, strategy is what played out for us to come out on top.  A small bit of fuel mileage we had to play, but it wasn’t very much.  For us, just one lap shy (of making it to the end).  Our Dodge (R6) engine gave us the fuel mileage we needed to come out on top of everybody.”

ROGER PENSKE (Team Owner, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) Winner
“I think it's a real credit to Kurt.  Great job tonight.  He had to pick up a lap on fuel.  We told him early on, Pat, it's your call there to stay out.  Kurt had a little vibration, but stayed out longer.  It gave us not very good track position when we came out, you could see that.  He had to race pretty hard to get back up there.  But we were really picking up on the 18 and the 00.  He took his time.  At the end, I really wasn't concerned because the guy said we only needed one lap.  I knew he could make at least one lap.  You could see that.

“Pat, great job for you.  Appreciate the commitment you made in these last races.  I want to say that publicly.  I know you're a first-class guy.  What a great win for you and for the team.”

Q:  WAS IT AN EASY DECISION TO STAY OUT CONSIDERING WHERE YOU ARE AT IN POINTS, OR IS IT ALWAYS A DIFFICULT DECISION WHEN YOU PLAY THE FUEL MILEAGE GAME?

KURT BUSCH: “For me sitting inside the car, when I came out with two stops to go, or one stop after we just initially stopped, Pat said, save fuel.  I looked at the scoreboard; I saw 120 something (laps) to go, if I'm not mistaken.  I did the math.  Divide that by two, it's 60 something on a tank of gas.  For us, it wasn't necessarily as big a risk as you might think.  We could play it out the way we wanted to.  We stayed out a little extra on the first run.  That enabled us to stay out on the second run.  I could feel it.  I knew that's what Pat's direction was going to be.  To risk fuel, I didn't think we were in that zone of risking.”

PAT TRYSON (CREW CHIEF, No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Charger) “This biggest thing is when you're doing that, worrying about a caution falling late because you're giving up track position.  That's how Kyle got the lead from us the first time, by short stopping, making up half second a lap there for three or four laps, gets him by us.  You know, the only concern was a caution falling before everybody had to pit.”

Q:  WHY ARE YOU NOT WEARING A COWBOY HAT?

ROGER PENSKE: “I don't know.  Sorry about that.  I got my Dodge hat on.  I don't know where it is.”

KURT BUSCH:  “He's got the more important one (Dodge hat) on.  Any hat that he wears is more important.”

Q:  HOW MUCH FUN WAS IT TO RACE HEAD-TO-HEAD AGAINST YOUR LITTLE BROTHER KYLE FOR HE WIN? 

KURT BUSCH:   “You know, it was quite a bit of fun.  I felt it early on in the way that each of us would beat each other out of the pits, and then, we would play cat and mouse on the restarts.  The way we would take off and separate ourselves from the pack.  I knew it was the 18 and the 2.

To have him going for his sweep this weekend, I was rooting for him.  But it's bittersweet because we took the sweet part, which is the victory in Cup.  Sundays, you want to win on Sundays.  I think it takes five wins, Nationwide and Truck, to equal one win in the big time show.

“But we raced him hard.  It felt like old times, the way that we raced Legend cars with each other, coming up through the ranks of racing.  To do it at the Cup level for a win, this one's definitely one of those fun days.  Not to mention Michael McGee, from Dickies’ sponsorship, won a million dollars.  I had an angel riding along with me.  A million bucks for a fan and beat my brother on the sweep.”

Q:  THE FUEL STRATEGY GAME STARTED BEFORE THE LAST STOP?

PAT TRYSON:  “Yeah, it was pretty much made the stop before the last one.  So, it was two stops.  You know, you're sitting there figuring if it stays green, how far you can go.  We had to stretch it a little bit that first run.  I think we picked up just about everything we had in the cell.”

ROGER PENSKE:  “You could see the 00 pitted four laps before we did.  The 18 pitted.  I think we ran two laps longer than they did.  We knew if everything went to the end, with Kurt having to pick up one lap, we were in pretty good shape.  We weigh the fuel after every stop so we know exactly what the fuel mileage is.  I think he ran probably a little more of a fuel mileage run at the end, the last 10, 15 laps.”
 
Q:  HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO SAVE FUEL AND NOT HAVE A HEAVY FOOT ON THE THROTTLE?

KURT BUSCH:  It's definitely challenging in all aspects.  You have to make sure when you're letting off the throttle that you do it a proper way or when you pick up the throttle you're doing it a proper way.  Maybe there isn't the right way to do it, other than I worked with my dad racing cars at an entry level.  We had to take care of our equipment.  We had to race it for what it was worth, ginger it, make it to where it could be brought back next week.  That's the mindset that you go into.  I asked Pat, I said, 'Do I have to worry about the 18?'  He said, ‘No.’  I don't even know that he exists on the race track is my thought process.  I just have to be in front of the 00.  Then I radioed in and said, he told me I was a lap ahead of him.  We really didn't conserve fuel till the last 20 laps.  Otherwise, we were hammer down,  Get our car back the track position that we lost.  That was the give-and-take.  We lost a lot of track position by stretching it an extra two laps.  We had to really hammer down, get those spots back on the track.  We had to pass Mark Martin.  We had to pass Matt Kenseth.  We had to pass the 00.  We were as far back as sixth place on the racet rack.  We hammered down to get through these guys.”

Q:  WITH WHAT HAPPENED TO JIMMIE TODAY, IT LOOKS LIKE HOMESTEAD IS NOW IN PLAY.  DOES THAT SPEAK TO THE POWER OF THE CHASE WHERE ONE BAD RACE CAN DERAIL YOU OR DO YOU THINK THE POINT’S SYSTEM STILL NEEDS TO BE LOOKED AT?

KURT BUSCH:  “It's very competitive, no matter who is in the lead or who is behind trying to gather points.  We hope it always goes to Homestead and there's five, six guys eligible, like the first year, 2004.  Jimmie Johnson, they've won an incredible amount during this Chase. 

A couple years ago, we thought the Chase format needed adjusting, so we gave more points to race wins.  Now he's so far ahead, we're thinking we have to adjust it again.  We can't keep doing that.  They're that good.  For them to stumble today puts everyone back in the picture, within a reasonable amount.  For us, I'm kicking myself for what happened to us last week at Talladega.  Running sixth place with a lap and a half to go, I put the car on the hauler at 30th.  I didn't do my job last weekend.  We find ourselves too far behind, but we're still within a reasonable distance.”

Q:   JIMMIE TOOK A BIG HIT IN THE POINTS.  WHAT DO YOU THINK THE NEXT TWO WEEKS WILL BE LIKE FOR HIM?

KURT BUSCH: “I don't want to give all of the mental approach on what Jimmie Johnson has to do because his game has now changed.  They definitely have to look over their shoulder at who is around them, who is behind them, because the other guys feel like he's vulnerable now. Who knows.  I mean, we race the races.  That's why we do it.  We don't do it off paper.  We go challenge ourselves to be the best at Phoenix and challenge ourselves to be the best at Homestead in two weeks to try to see how we can move up in points.  We don't wish any bad luck upon anybody else.  I have a great car owner, great crew chief by my side, great engineering staff.  We're doing what we can to put ourselves in position.”

Q:  CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR RECENT PERFORMANCES?

KURT BUSCH:  “You know, I didn't quite hear your full question.  I'll go with a report card type status.  If we can get 10 grades, we got an A-plus tonight.  If we grade ourselves throughout the Chase, I would say we're a B-plus.  We had some A-plus runs so far.  We had a C at Martinsville where we finished 17th.  But that so far is our worst finish, but we did finish 30th at Talladega.  That kills you.  Talladega, overall we came from two laps down and battled back.  That's what you have to do as a Chase contender.  But right now, I can't give ourselves A-pluses in all categories.  Right now, the 48, they have A-pluses all the way till this weekend.”

Q:   YOU PUT BRAD IN THE 12 CAR THIS WEEKEND.  CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE STRATEGY BECAUSE YOU HAVEN’T NAMED A CREW CHIEF FOR THE 2 CAR FOR NEXT YEAR?

ROGER PENSKE:  I think from a crew chief perspective, we're focused on Phoenix and Homestead.  Pat is fully committed.  We got some great guys internally.  Right now, we're looking at internal candidates and external.  For one thing, we're not going to announce what we're going to do until after the season, right, Pat? “

PAT TRYSON:  “We're going to go finish it off.”

ROGER PENSKE:  “I think we're going to finish it off.  I think the guys have done a terrific job.  This gives us some momentum for the last two races, and certainly some direction from a car, from an engine.  And certainly the driver lineup we have, we think we're going to have a great shot to do even better next year.”

Q:  CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHY YOUR WIN IS BITTER SWEET?

KURT BUSCH:  “It's fun having a sibling out there to race with and to challenge.  For us to do it at this top level, there's just so many emotions that go with it.  For him to be going for the sweep this weekend, winning the Truck and Nationwide race, for our car to be competitive, for him to be competitive, it's that thought that you have as a young teenager growing up in racing.  I see my little brother, my dad is helping us out a lot.  Maybe we'll make it to the top level one day and be able to race each other for a win.  It wasn't quite the door to door, nose to tail, fender banging, 'green white checkered' like we would have hoped, but it came down to strategy and it came down to who could persevere with their team. Right now, with the way that we're situated, it's bitter sweet because, hey, Pat is leaving.  We wish that we could stick together.  We want to get the best we can out of these last few races.  It's bitter sweet to beat Kyle.  He was going for the sweep.  We took it away from him.  I don't think he could have picked a better driver to lose to tonight.  So it's fun (smiling).  It's really fun.  We race each other to the bone, but we pat each other on the back at the end of the day.”

Q:  A 73-POINT LEAD FOR JIMMIE IS STILL A BIG LEAD.  ARE WE (MEDIA) CLAIMING THE POINT’S RACE IS TIGHTER THAN IT ACTUALLY IS?

KURT BUSCH:  “We're not the guys 73 points out.  That might be better served for Mark Martin, who is in that position.  For us, we have nothing to hold back.  We may as well go for broke and see if we can't bump up in points before the last couple races.”

Q:  CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE DODGE R6 ENGINE AND HOW IT WILL HELP MOVING FORWARD FOR YOU GUYS? 

ROGER PENSKE:   “I think if you go back, you really got to go back to last year.  Kurt agreed, we'd started running the R6 last year.  We've really been running it all season.  I think we had to get it to a level of power of the R5.  You can see Kasey Kahne has had some good runs with the R5 even this year.  I think each step has been a little bit, we saw it in the restrictor plate last week with Stremme.  Kurt didn't have one because we were worried about reliability here.  We had probably the best engine we've had all year.   I think that, along with the new car, it gave us at least a piece he could drive.  There's no question in his ability to drive it.  We just need to give him a car that's competitive.  The engine side looks good.  We got a lot of work to do to make it better, to be competitive every weekend with the top teams.  But I think overall, we're very happy with the Dodge commitment.”

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