CHASE FOR THE NASCAR SPRINT CUP
ROUND 9 OF 10
PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
NOVEMBER 11, 2016
KURT BUSCH, NO. 41 MONSTER ENERGY/HAAS AUTOMATION CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. He discussed his chances of advancing to the Championship Four, racing against teammate Kevin Harvick, team owner Gene Haas’ participation as of late, and aero and tire changes for the series. Full Transcript:
YOU NEED A WIN THIS WEEKEND TO PUNCH YOUR TICKET TO MIAMI AND THE CHAMPIONSHIP NEXT WEEKEND. YOUR CUBS CAME BACK FROM 3-1 TO WIN THE WORLD SERIES. DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN COME OUT HERE, WIN THIS RACE ON SUNDAY AND GET TO MIAMI?
“Yeah, that’s what we’re hopeful for. Our scenario to advance is to win. ”It’s very similar to last year with how we made it through to the Round of 16, the Round of 12 and the Round of 8. We find ourselves with a must-win at Phoenix. It’s a unique format and it’s a lot of fun to work through it. To have a shot at it with only one race to go before the championship round makes you feel like you’ve had a successful season. We always want more, and we know we can do more. We want to try and go out with a win here in Phoenix to give ourselves a shot at the championship for all of us at Stewart-Haas Racing and more importantly Haas Automation, Monster Energy and Chevrolet.”
AS STRONG AS THIS ORGANIZATION WAS IN THE FIRST HALF OF THE SEASON, CAN YOU POINT TO ANYTHING AS TO WHAT’S GONE ON IN THE CHASE? LAST WEEK, ZIPPY (GREG ZIPADELLI, STEWART-HAAS RACING COMPETITION DIRECTOR) SAID THAT YOU GUYS NEVER COULD FIND THE BALANCE ONCE THE CONDITIONS OF THE WEATHER CHANGED. YOU HAD SO MUCH SPEED AT THE START OF THE SEASON. CAN YOU POINT TO ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR?
“It’s tough to point to anything in particular. Our downforce has continued to improve. I see good wind tunnel sheets. I see engine dyno sheets where we have improved there. We knew had our work cut out for us in a transition year. We just thought that if we went out there and did the same job, we would be able to produce the same kind of results. Maybe that’s a little bit our fault of trying to do everything the same, similar to what you would run here in February and March in Phoenix is what we’re going to run here this weekend. Maybe we didn’t advance far enough with our setups throughout the summer. What we did was just play to our strength, which was go there with consistency and not have too many variables that have changed because we know there is so much change on the horizon.”
IN THIS SPORT WHEN YOU HAVE TO WIN TO GET INTO THE FINALE – COMPARING IT TO THE CUBS – CAN YOU FIND IN OTHER SPORTS AND DRAW FROM THAT IN HAVING TO MANUFACTURER THAT THIS WEEKEND TO GET INTO THE FINALE NEXT WEEK?
“In other sports, it’s two teams fighting it out. One of them has a 50 percent chance and the other team has a 50 percent chance. In NASCAR and motorsports in this type of format, it’s a much lesser of a percentage chance because you have so many other guys who are involved. There are eight of us that are still alive, and two of us are locked in. That means there are six of us who are trying to separate themselves and be part of those two spots that are left. Lots of math can be thrown into it. There’s other variables with teammates that are in and teammates that are out. In all honesty, it comes down to raw speed, it comes down to execution and being able to have the perfect type of race. That’s what this type of format demands is perfection and being able to win at any moment to continue to advance or to win the title. The way the championship has been won the last couple of years, the winner won Homestead. He won the race. He didn’t just finish third or 10th or when I won the championship, I finished fifth that day which was enough to win. The format has now been created where you have to win to advance and win to win the championship.”
“You just give it your all. There’s no second-guessing things. You go for it, don’t look back, and you try to be your best at that moment. But of course you don’t want to put too much pressure on yourself or ask too much of your crew chief. You want to blend everybody together to create the best powerful result you can. You don’t want to stretch it too far but you want to give it everything you have.”
YOU AND KEVIN HARVICK ARE IN A UNIQUE SITUATION BECAUSE OF WHERE YOU GUYS ARE IN POINTS ITS GOING TO BE VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR BOTH OF YOU TO ADVANCE. IF ONE OF YOU WINS, YOU ARE GOING TO KNOCK OUT THE OTHER. WHAT SORT OF DYNAMIC DOES THAT SET UP WITHIN THE TEAM AND IS THAT AN ADDITIONAL CHALLENGE?
“It’s the same that it is every week. We each want to win for our specific car number but we both want to see the most success possible for Stewart-Haas Racing. But ultimately the way that I have always digested and understood team cooperation, teamwork, and the way that everybody can be successful is that six days out of the week you work together. And on the seventh, you go race. So may the best Stewart-Haas Team win on Sunday and advance to the final.”
WITH GENE HAAS SO HEAVILY INVOLVED IN THE F1 TEAM, HOW MUCH IS HE INVOLVED IN MAJOR DECISIONS OF THE NASCAR TEAM, ESPECIALLY THIS WEEKEND AWAY IN BRAZIL. IS THE TEAM IN PERMANENT COMMUNICATION WITH HIM?
“There is only so much time in each given day that one individual can have. Since the F1 deal started up a couple of years ago we have seen less of Gene. But when he does come back and interacts with our NASCAR program, it’s much more in depth. Especially around the automotive side of it. It’s not necessarily the politics side, it’s what can he do to make the car go faster. Therefore, what I see Gene more involved in is the wind tunnel side of things. Formula One is the greatest platform in motorsports to showcase engineering talent, design and ingenuity. The downforce side is something that he is trying to implement in our NASCAR cars. So it’s great to have a series above the top series in the United States to come back from and to add to.”
CONSIDERING HOW THINGS HAVE GONE THIS YEAR WITH THE AERO PACKAGE, WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS ON HOW NEXT YEAR MAY GO WITH THE CHANGES AND PROPOSED CHANGES. DO YOU THINK IT WILL BE BETTER, MIGHT TAPER OFF LATER IN THE SEASON OR DO YOU THINK IT MAY BE BETTER ON THE TRACK?
“Yeah, I didn’t see the results that I was hoping for with lesser downforce. I was hoping for more side-by-side racing, cars being less dependent on aero, to be able to maintain their lap time and to see cars come from the back to the front. I still believe that it’s in Goodyear’s category to finding a softer tire or a tire that can show the results of when a driver abuses the tire, then you start to slide around some. And then you fade towards the later part of that run. So I am hopeful that anytime we take downforce that we can take weight out of them as well. I don’t see that happening with all the safety additions. We still need to get a softer tire, a tire that will drop off further and show cars that run up front in the beginning and burn off their tires – drop off at the end of the run. I think that is the key.”