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TRANSCRIPT: Kurt Busch at Michigan International Speedway

Posted On Friday, 10 June 2016 00:00 Written by
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Kurt Busch, winner at Pocono this past Monday, met with media to start his race weekend at Michigan International Speedway. Here's the full Transcript:
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Q: YOU HAVE FIVE TOP 5’S AND10 TOP 10’S AT MIS. THIS IS A GREAT TRACK FOR YOU. YOU ARE THE DEFENDING WINNER OF THIS RACE LAST YEAR. GIVE US A LITTLE BIT OF A SENSE OF WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN HERE. OBVIOUSLY YOU FEEL GOOD ABOUT YOUR WIN LAST WEEKEND AT POCONO. TALK ABOUT HOW YOU PIVOT FROM THAT MOMENT TO GETTING READY FOR MICHIGAN AND THE IMPORTANCE OF THAT

“The biggest thing at Michigan is respecting the speed. This is a very fast race track. And the way this weekend’s rules are shaping up with lesser downforce, it’s definitely a weekend where there’s a question mark, heading into it. And so, we’re going to make sure on the No. 41 car that we stay focused on our plan and not try to let the excitement of winning here last year and winning last week’s race jade the effort because every week is a new challenge. This week is a little bit different because it is the 2017 rules package and we want to make sure we stay on top of it and get the best effort that we possibly can. And so, it’s great to have (crew chief) Tony Gibson back and Johnny Klausmeier in his role as the lead engineer. But, I want to make a comment on last week’s win and not having our main crew chief. It just shows the depth. It shows the amount of quality effort that Stewart-Haas Racing is putting forth in building cars, but also in building people. And that’s what I was very proud of last week to be able to win with an interim crew chief.”

Q: WHAT ARE YOU ANTICIPATING FROM THE AERO PACKAGE?
“What I’m anticipating is hopefully a lot of slipping and sliding; a loss of momentum, and the ability to stack up some guys and to get a big run from third, fourth, fifth on back. That’s what we hope we see and that we don’t have a leader that just gets out there and then we’re not able to chase him down. And then the restarts are going to be that much more exciting because of the lack of downforce and how stable will the cars be side-by-side? Nobody knows that yet.”

Q: WHETHER COINCIDENCE OR NOT, YOU’VE HAD GOOD SUCCESS WINNING RAIN-DELAYED RACES. I RECALL YOU’RE WINNING HERE ON A TUESDAY. IS THAT JUST SIMPLY COINCIDENCE, OR IS THERE A MINDSET THAT YOU’VE GOT TO RACE THE NEXT DAY AND KEEP IT TOGETHER?
“There are quite a few rain-delayed wins that I have. And with all the different teams I’ve been with, with Roush and Penske and Stewart-Haas, I don’t know. I was Rain Man a couple of months ago and I should have practiced-up on some of my quotes. But I’m glad that Dad lets me drive Sundays. The rain is definitely something you have to be patient with. It’s something you can’t predict. We do have a lot stronger tools in radar and everything else, but whenever the green flag drops, no matter if it’s a quick rain delay. And one of the biggest things we have now that we didn’t have in year’s past are the Air Titans. And so they can quickly get a track in race conditions. And so you have to be ready at all moments, whenever they’re going to drop the green and try to stay as levelheaded and focused as possible whenever we get to go. You can’t challenge Mother Nature. It feels good to be able to be ready, to be prepared, and to have a team behind you to go out there and perform at any moment.”

Q: BOTH YOU AND MARTIN (TRUEX JR) GOT A WIN THE WEEK BEFORE THE RACE THAT WOULD HAVE BEEN YOUR ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY SINCE YOUR PREVIOUS WINS. I’M KIND OF CURIOUS. WOULD IT HAVE MATTERED IF YOU CAME IN HERE THIS WEEK WITH IT BEING ONE YEAR WITHOUT AT WIN? DOES THAT MESS WITH A DRIVER’S PSYCHE? CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HAVING TO OVERCOME FRUSTRATIONS LIKE CHICAGO LAST YEAR, BRISTOL THIS YEAR, VEGAS THIS YEAR? RACES WHERE YOU MAYBE FELT LIKE YOU DEFINITELY WERE IN CONTENTION TO WIN.
“It’s great to have the win. But we want more wins. Gene Haas is a great owner to race for. He said congratulations and then in his normal sarcastic Gene Haas tone, he said, ‘I want more. Where are more? Why do we only have one?’ But you have to stay patient. If we didn’t win, to answer your question, last week, we’ve had such a strong season with consistency that there’s no reason to panic or to stress any type of part of the team because we hadn’t won. Honestly, we were second in points and we had a three-race cushion on 16th in points. And so that was a cushion that I was trying to tell the guys, that’s important; because if we had any kind of mechanical failure, we’re not in any kind of jeopardy of not advancing to the Chase. But we just need to continue to push and to do smart things. And I’m glad that we won because there’s a few new crew members on the No. 41 car that hadn’t tasted Victory Lane. And they were getting a bit nervous or a bit agitated or maybe just a bit frazzled that they hadn’t gotten that win yet. And so it’s more for the team. It puts the No. 41 car parallel with the No. 4 (Kevin Harvick) as far as results this year, internally. And one thing that’s very important to recognize is when I was at the shop on Tuesday, at SHR we work on weekdays and we don’t normally race on weekdays. And so everybody was huddled-up in the cafeteria watching the race on Monday as a unit, as a core group of people, rooting for their car out there. And normally, people are at home watching on Sunday’s with their families and they’re not there together as employees watching the race unfold. And that was a special moment to hear everybody say the break room erupted, the cafeteria erupted with cheers. The guys in the transmission room, we didn’t even know they had a laptop back there to watch the race on. They had their own celebration. So it’s really neat to see the team enjoy it together on a Monday win.”

Q: TONY GIBSON SAID HE THINKS ONE OF THE REASONS THE NO. 4 AND THE NO. 41 TEAMS DO SO WELL IS BECAUSE OF THE RELATIONSHIP THAT HE HAS WITH RODNEY CHILDERS. HE SAID THEY’RE BOTH OLD SCHOOL CREW CHIEFS. HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THE RELATIONSHIP SINCE YOU’VE BEEN THERE BUILD BETWEEN THOSE TWO AND BLOSSOM AND MADE THE TWO TEAMS AS A WHOLE, STRONGER?
“Yeah, I would agree with Gibson 100 percent in that Rodney Childers and Tony Gibson are more of old school crew chiefs and they’re very good at assembling the crew members in the specific positions. Such as their lead engineers are very strong-minded, very good at simulation, and Klausmeier called a perfect race last week. And then you see (Michael) Bugarewicz has moved on from the lead engineer into a crew chief roll for Tony Stewart. It just shows the quality of people that they have working for them. And then there’s the old school things that crew chiefs do to help push one another on hey, I saw this in tech inspection or hey, did you see the Toyota’s do this? Or, hey this Ford had that. And they’re able to easily communicate that back to the engineering staff on just the visual things that they see. It’s neat though, to have as many teams as possible pushing each other within the same organization, and that’s what makes the Toyotas tough right now is there’s four of them that are definitely huddled-down in there together, and we want to see Tony Stewart get stronger and Danica (Patrick) get stronger, so that we can have our total of four strong horses every week.

“As far as being under the radar, it’s just the way it happens. It’s something I don’t necessarily focus on. I know that we’ve had nice internal victories each and every week with certain things. And it might not be the glorified big moment win, but we now have that. And there’s no ignoring the fact that the No. 41 car has been a very consistent car this year.”

Q: IS THERE ANY SHARING OF INFORMATION WITH GENE HAAS AND HIS F-1 TEAM WITH YOUR TEAM?
“Yeah, I’m excited. Next week, we have an off-week from our NASCAR circuit and I’m headed over to the Middle East to watch our Formula 1 team at Baku, (Azerbaijan) and I can’t wait to hang out with (Romain) Grosjean and (Esteban) Gutierrez and have the opportunity to sit next to a Formula 1 driver and see his tools that he uses; whether it’s simulation, whether it’s mapping. I’m hoping that I can discover things that I’ll be able to ask Gene. Hey Gene, why don’t we have that? Let’s bring that back over to the North Carolina side and use it for the Sprint Cup teams. It’s just an exciting time for Gene, all the way around, with the success that he had early on in F-1. But now to settle-in as the season is going on and for us to deliver a win, it’s really a neat time with Gene Haas. He’s having a lot of fun in motorsports and he’s pushing harder and harder and harder. And I hope that there is something that I can bring back and cross-pollenate with our Sprint Cup team from the F-1.”
“I have not driven a Formula 1 car, just an IndyCar. I’m sure I’d fit right in the seat and I’d figure out where the start button is. I just don’t know if they’ll let me go out there on my own, but with Gene, you never know. And I would love the opportunity to have a test session or a fun day with a Formula 1 car. Those cars and the engineering and the amount of technology is something so exciting, as a driver, you want to get your hands on it.”

-- Release courtesy of Chevy Racing

Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

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