KURT BUSCH, NO. 1 MONSTER ENERGY CAMARO ZL1 1LE, spoke with media via teleconference to discuss getting back to racing at Darlington, his new teammate Matt Kenseth, and more. Full Transcript:
REGARDING THAT TURN ONE MOMENT WITH NO PRACTICE OR QUALIFYING. WILL IT BE DIFFERENT OR WILL YOU TREAT IT LIKE ANY OTHER RACE?
"It will be exciting to say the least. When I ran the Indianapolis 500 a few years ago, everybody was hyped up and going three-wide into turn one. It’s because the whole month of practice, preparation, and drafting, you are only doing it with a few cars at a time. This will be the same thing for us. It’s a group of cars, group of professionals, all barreling down into turn one with months of built up anxiety and excitement. Everybody knows it. Everybody can feel it. And I hope everybody uses their best judgement because we all know there is going to be a competition caution for everybody to check their settings with the front splitter, cambers, and the set-up balances. My approach is that we all need to drive down there at an 80% level and then ramp up our percentage of aggressiveness as the race moves forward."
HOW DIFFERENTLY DOES DARLINGTON RACE IN THE DAYTIME VERSUS THE NIGHT THIS TIME OF YEAR AND WITH THIS PACKAGE?
"You know, each of our upcoming races are all going to be in different time slots and the track grip levels are going to be very different than what they have shown for patterns in the years past. For this race, I want everybody to look at how bleached-out the asphalt will look when we turn on that broadcast on Sunday. You are going to look and go, ‘wow, I don’t even recognize the racetrack’, and that is because there has been no track activity. No Xfinity Series, no Trucks, and nobody that put any kind of rubber down from the practice sessions. So, the whole thing will be a whole different look. It will get built up with rubber and it will be slicker in the daytime and turns 1 and 2 will have the sun beating down on it hard. And looking at the weather forecast, it’s going to be in the upper 80s. So, this will be a big challenge right off the bat. It’s a 400-miler, everybody’s physical level will be tested, mental level, and then adjusting to track conditions. This on a scale of 1-10 is a 9.5 to start off with."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE ALL EYES ARE GOING TO BE ON NASCAR THIS WEEK TO SEE HOW IT GOES OFF THE NEXT 10 DAYS AND DO YOU FEEL LIKE IT COULD BE A TEST FOR ALL PROFESSIONAL SPORTS LEAGUES?
"I feel like this is a genuine opportunity for many different reasons. All sports fans, NASCAR fans, the drivers, and the sanctioning body – we are all looking forward to it. At the end of the day, we are hopeful that this is a light at the end of the tunnel that people can see. It is a beacon that is shining out there saying this is a professional sport with competitors and millions of dollars in TV and team sponsorships that create a sense of balance. Something that says, ‘if they can do it, we can do it’. But other sports have many other hurdles that they have to overcome. For us, it’s exciting that we have our chance to go out there and compete. Whether it is a stage to stand on or not, you have to block out all that pressure. I am looking forward to trying to grab that first checkered flag in two months."
HOW DO YOU THINK YOUR NEW TEAMMATE (MATT KENSETH) WILL DO WITH NO PRACTICE AND THE NEW SITUATION FOR HIM?
"Yeah, I think Matt Kenseth is up for the challenge. It’s a unique set of circumstances for him, as well as everybody. For Matt to not be in a car for a longer duration than most of us, it will be different with a new team and new communication over the radio. He has gone through the steps with Ganassi and with Chevrolet in the simulator to make some laps and hear his crew chief on the radio and to do things in the virtual aspect. But again, nothing translates to the real thing in feeling the G forces and being out there with the competitors. He has the option to start in the seventh-place position, or wherever the random draw goes for the top-12 in points. So, there is that question of whether he wants to drop to the back and kind of ease into it. But Matt is a champion, a true professional, and I am excited to work with him as we move forward."
DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT IT WAS LIKE TO GET BACK ON TRACK AFTER 9-11 AND KIND OF THE EMOTIONS THAT FOLLOWED THAT AND THE FAN REACTION?
"That is a loaded question and a great question. With 9-11 and having that moment for our country to be attacked in a terrorism-type of setting, there are some similarities to that in this current day, but everybody wanted to go back to the track and I swear, everybody was wearing red, white and blue. There was no other color and the grandstands were packed. The electricity was beyond. That moment is going to be similar, but it’s going to be an empty set of grandstands. It’s going to be all eyeballs and spirits watching through the FOX network. We will be able to feel that, but we will have a whole different set of feelings and circumstances around us as teams, as sponsors, and as drivers when we get to the track on Sunday. But we know that everyone is going to be looking at us through that camera lenses, and that is what we saw in 1979 with everybody having travel issues and everybody being snowed-in on the east coast. With all those eyeballs watching, it transcended our sport. That happens over time. I think the 9-11 thing happened instantaneously and this one has been a two month break in racing action. But yes, we are not going to have our fans at a full capacity right now at the track, it will be through the television. It’s a blend. It’s a big moment, but at the same time, time will tell what this will do with our sport and how we are able to create a little bit of normalcy for the fans that tune in on Sunday."
DO YOU THINK HAVING MATT KENSETH AS A VETERAN TEAMMATE YOU TWO TOGETHER CAN PUSH GANASSI TO THE NEXT LEVEL?
"Oh absolutely. I think that is one of the reasons for the decision, to go with Matt Kenseth, a past champion. For us to have been teammates years ago, that already helps us cross over a bridge that sometimes you
need to spend time on. His work ethic, his drive and also the chance here for this opportunity is to use his experience and his wisdom to help a whole new group of guys on that 42 car. Those are the things that I did with the 1 car and it’s a matter of raising the bar for everybody. So, yes, Matt is going to look for that opportunity to do it when there is the right time to implement certain things. For the two of us, I hope quicker rather than later we get in this sync, side-by-side, pushing as well with General Motors and what we can do with Chevrolet, to make Ganassi a winner week in and week out."
— Team Chevy —