Ford Performance NASCAR: Kurt Busch Pocono Transcript

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Ford Performance NASCAR Notes and Quotes

Pocono 400 – Pocono Raceway

Friday, June 9, 2017

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion, was part of a press conference in the Pocono Raceway infield media center before practice.  Here’s a full transcript.

KURT BUSCH – No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion – A BIG WEEKEND WITH MONSTER ENERGY AND FREE FRIDAY.  WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT BEING INVOLVED IN THAT?  “I think it’s great to see more and more of what Monster can do at track and what the tracks can do with Monster Energy.  There are so many unique elements that they bring and this is great to put cans in our fans’ hands and to put a recycle initiative to it.  That always connects back when you’re going green.  It’s easy to go green when you have Monster green with you.  It’s fun.  We’ll have an autograph session later on with all the fans in the midway and it’s a perfect setting too, on a Friday to kind of kick the weekend off.  Friday is a bit more relaxed and then we jump into the more intense Saturday practice sessions and then of course the big day on Sunday.  I’m looking forward to it and it’s fun to see the track here at Pocono working really close with Monster and trying to find new ways and new things to get our fans connected.”

HOW HAS THE CHEMISTRY BEEN WITH THE OTHER FORD TEAMS SO FAR THIS YEAR?  “Right away at Daytona everybody from Ford, Edsel Ford, Henry Ford, Mark Fields when he was their CEO, everybody was there at Daytona and there was a big meeting about how we need to start with the teams working together at the restrictor plate tracks, and then as we moved forward to the mile-and-a-halves, we’ve got the short tracks, there’s little things that we’ve been doing at SHR versus what Penske has been doing or Roush or RPM and so we want to try to share the information, but at the same time you’ve got to keep the technology in-house.  So Ford has a nice balance of what they’ve asked us to do and how we’re all sharing information moving forward.  Really, it’s a unique situation with having Doug Yates as our engine builder.  He’s really smart.  He’s on top of everything, so whether it’s the oiling system, the water cooling system, different gear ratios and things, we’ve been working on those.  Gear ratios will be big this weekend here at Pocono because we have the ability to change our transmission ratios for the restarts and the pace that’s being set, so we’ll see how that goes.”

WHAT’S THE PAST SIX MONTHS BEEN LIKE FOR YOU ON AND OFF THE TRACK?  “It’s been amazing.  It started with the Cubs winning the World Series last November and just enjoying the ride.  Winning the Daytona 500 a month after I got the most beautiful ring and the beautiful woman in my world it’s like drop the mic, walk away, everything is perfect.  My contract and everything at SHR is fantastic and I love NASCAR racing.  She’s been there supporting me every bit of the way and it’s great for me to jump out of the NASCAR world and jump into her world and support her with her modeling and polo.  We were in New York City all last week.  She was on some TV shows and things talking about the Veuve Clicquot Classic and playing polo with Nacho, the big Ralph Lauren model.  It’s really neat.  It’s a fun world and she knows the focus that I have to give to the race car and this team because I see it with the focus that she gives her team with the horses, with her trainers, with the travel.  It was fun.  Right after that big New York City event I’m back there with the trainer and the horses packing up the trailer like it was our old Late Model team and sending them back to Virginia, so it’s been fun.”

DO YOU HAVE ANY RICHARD PETTY MEMORIES?  “He’s our King.  He deserves a full year of celebration being the 80th birthday.  Congrats to Richard Petty, a true pioneer of our sport, our kind.  Two hundred race wins.  Seven championships and the legacy that the Petty family has is incomparable, so it’s neat that he’s still here and autographs every week.  He’s the most charismatic and his personality is so big everytime you see him at the track.  He’s got his hat and sunglasses on and he’s just happy-go-lucky and yet he is the face of our sport when it really comes time to branching it back to the past.  My favorite moment was watching him win his 200th at Daytona and having chicken with President Reagan.  That doesn’t happen every day, and the time I got to meet him at Richard Petty Motorsports in Level Cross, North Carolina, that was a big moment of walking into the King’s office and being there where the history and a big anchor of our sport has been rooted.  It was really neat to go to his office and share a moment with him there.”

WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS COMING INTO THIS WEEKEND?  “Our expectations are high, but we have to keep them in perspective.  Yes, we have run well the last few weeks and it’s been a matter of changing the car’s dynamic balance as far as our setup to match the aero changes.  We’ve found some things in the wind tunnel that have helped us understand the difference with our Ford versus where we were at this time last year with the GM car, and so balancing those things has helped us and I think we turned a good corner at Texas.  We’ve been cranking out top 10s, but we haven’t been cranking out top 5s, so I was pushing really hard last week and the car stepped out.  I took it beyond its limits and it’s because we’re right there.  We’re solid top-10 when things go our way, but we’re not top-5 and that’s what I’m pushing for, and this is a great track for us to come back to because we won here last time and it’s one of my favorites.  So balancing out where we are with the team, the setups and if we can get a top-5 this next week, that would be great, but of course we’re going for the win.”

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT BUBBA WALLACE MAKING HIS DEBUT THIS WEEKEND?  AND HAVE YOU FOLLOWED HIS CAREER PATH TO DATE?  “I think it’s great.  It’s a big moment for our sport.  Some of the interviews I did in New York City this week just promoting NASCAR in general and some of the questions that pop up are about diversity and why isn’t there more of a look of different drivers or a feel, and I think it’s perfect because our sport welcomes anybody at any time – male, female, no matter what their ethnic background is, where they’re from, whether they came from sports cars or rally cars – but Bubba’s rise to the top with the Drive for Diversity Program, along with Max Seigel, I think it was a perfect stepping stone for him all the way through, and then to hear that the Roush Fenway guys don’t have the budget for him for the rest of the XFINITY season this makes perfect sense.  I would say looking at it all from the outside I’m glad that Ford stepped in to try to make this happen for him and RPM.”

HAVE YOU NOTICED ANYTHING ABOUT THE WAY FANS HAVE RECEIVED DALE JR. THIS YEAR SINCE HIS RETIREMENT ANNOUNCEMENT?  “Anytime we’re at the track and you see Dale Jr. and the swarm of fans around him it’s an incredible feeling because he’s the one that has taken our popularity of NASCAR to this level that we enjoy today.  I think the fans are in the mood of giving back and showing more appreciation to Dale Jr. and recognizing the career that he’s had and the highlights that he’s won and things that he’s done off the track.  Most importantly though it’s a chance for the fans to see him one last time at their track, at Pocono here and next week will be Michigan, and then we go out to Sonoma.  That will be his final race out there at the Sonoma road course, but just in general I think fans are really wanting to just say things to Dale Jr. for being our most popular ambassador of our sport for the last two decades.”

DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE TURN HERE AT POCONO?  “Turn one is by far the most fun.  With the restarts we have going down the front straightaway, sometimes five-wide, you’re always trying to find that slot to get back in line.  Turn two, if you’re fast through there.  The three times that I’ve won here I felt like my fastest corner was turn two.  Then turn three, it’s changed over the years on how they put the strip of asphalt in the high lane for a few years, the way the curb and the bottom of the groove in turn three has changed.  Each time around it seems like there’s one that jumps out that’s different than the rest, but favorite corner is turn one.”

 

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