Ford Performance NASCAR: Las Vegas (Kurt Busch & Kevin Harvick Media Availability)

Ford PR
(Ford)

Ford Notes and Quotes

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

Pennzoil 400 Media Availability (Las Vegas Motor Speedway)

Friday, March 2, 2018

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Ford, returns to his hometown looking for a race win that he would rank among the top-five on his list. Busch talked about his early season success and how much getting to victory lane on Sunday would mean to him.

 

KURT BUSCH, No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Fusion — YOU HAVE MOMENTUM COMING IN TO YOUR HOMETOWN TRACK: “Yeah, it is always fun to come back to Vegas and see family and friends and familiar surroundings. I gotta thank Jeff Motley for a phenomenal job here at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in its new phase with the second race coming here in September, this race has more importance around it than it ever has before because of the playoff atmosphere that will be around the September race. To have a triple header weekend now and in September, this is big for Las Vegas and the motorsports community. It is fun to come back and represent my hometown and maybe this time we will break through for a victory.

 

DOES THIS RACE TAKE ON ADDED IMPORTANCE BECAUSE YOU WILL BE BACK HERE FOR THE PLAYOFFS? “Yeah, I feel like over the years when you have a track that has the one date, that makes it significant because you only race there once a year and you want to get that trophy. Now I am realizing a track that now has two dates, it is that much more important because this one will be part of the playoffs when we come back. A track like Michigan has two dates and that is very important because it is the manufacturers back yard. Pocono is fun and has two dates but not a lot of good weather so we race there back-to-back pretty quick. Any track that has a date early in the season and then is part of the playoffs later, it has that much more of an importance value to it just for the competition side. Places like Phoenix, Texas, Martinsville, Las Vegas fit into that category as far as early in the season and very important later.”

 

FORD WAS REALLY STRONG AT ATLANTA. DOES THAT MEAN YOU GUYS SHOULD BE GOOD OVER THE NEXT FEW RACES OR IS THAT TRACK SPECIFIC? “I was really surprised by the Ford dominance. My car felt great. We were really good on the short run and I am hoping that plays out with our Haas Automation Ford this weekend. The track surface is a little different. I always tell fans and media and sponsors alike that we need to just wait and look at the first five races as a core group. Once we are done with the west coast swing, lets evaluate trends. Atlanta is somewhat similar to Fontana and Auto Club Speedway with the asphalt being worn out. We will see if we can backup what we did at Atlanta at Fontana. This one here, this 1.5-mile is very similar to Texas, Kansas, Charlotte with the asphalt grip level and the tire that we are using. With this being a playoff race later in the year, this weekend is a great way to judge things once the checkered flag falls on Sunday night.”

 

THIS SURFACE HASN’T DEGRADED A WHOLE LOT SINCE THE REPAVE SO GOODYEAR IS TRYING TO BUILD FALL-OFF INTO THE TIRES. WILL YOU PAY PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO THAT? “Yeah, I hope we are able to see those trends. We always want the drivers to have the chance or option or the mistake, so to speak, to wear out the tires too quickly in the run. My car last week, we were a little guilty of running too strong in the beginning of a run and then faded later in the run. The time that I was conservative to the tires early in the run, I was just slower that whole run. I never made that time back up. The tires aren’t quite the same as we used to have. The asphalt surface here is right in its prime. I am hopeful that the tires Goodyear brought balances out the long run speed versus the speed you can gain by coming in, pitting and getting a set of fresh tires and charging up through a restart. I hope that plays into how the race is won instead of just putting on tires and filling it full of gas, running it to the end and staying out later in the race. The biggest thing though is the track time seems to be more and more limited and we can’t get those long runs in and double check setup A versus setup B. Today is the first time I think in my whole career that I am unloading in qualifying trim and only have 55 minutes to get that car dialed in for qualifying. Normally we have a hour and a half and can go through some tires and changes. This is quick today and tomorrow we just have a hour session in the morning and again around noon time. In Atlanta we only had an hour and twenty minutes on Saturday. Things are changing quite a bit on the schedule and that is making it more difficult to find those patterns with the tires.”

 

HOW HUNGRY ARE YOU TO WIN A RACE HERE? “It would be huge. I put too much pressure on myself every year that I come back and I keep trying to come back and be loose and just let the race come to us. I hope we are able to find that raw speed in the car that we need in the second half of the race. I have always been a good qualifier here and the team always brings me great cars but when you have a race that is so early in the season, a lot of the performance value at the end of the race comes from work done in the off-season. I know we are as prepared as we can be. My teammate (Kevin Harvick) won last week. There is no reason why the 41 car can’t win here this weekend. It would mean the world to me. I have won Daytona and Charlotte and been close at the Southern 500. Vegas ranks up there in the top-five for me.”

 

HOW HAS LAS VEGAS CHANGED WITH NASCAR HERE THE SAME WEEKEND WITH UFC HERE AND THE GOLDEN NIGHTS, PART OF A BIG SPORTS WEEKEND IN YOUR HOMETOWN? “It is incredible. Last year I think we were here during the Pac-12 tournament and Mountain West NCAA basketball tournament. The sport dominance that we are experiencing here in Vegas is similar to the different trends we have seen with the hotels. It was a family atmosphere back in the 90’s, then it seemed like it turned into a nightclub atmosphere, then it was chefs. Every chef from around the world created a residency and hard a marquee restaurant introduced to the hotels and casinos. Now we are going through a sports phase and it is all brought to us by the Las Vegas Visitors and Convention Authority and they know how to get people to McCarron Airport and the sports phase is huge and I am proud of Las Vegas Motor Speedway for securing a second date and Bruton Smith to acknowledge that Vegas is moving the needle for our sport. Not that New Hampshire wasn’t. New Hampshire fans are great. New Englanders love racing and baseball and football. But think of this, if you are a New England Patriot fan and you are playing the Raiders, of course you are coming to Vegas to see your Patriots play an away game and get all the extra fun things that go along with Vegas.

 

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO BE OFF TO SUCH A GOOD START? “We had a big focus on stage points, especially Stage 1. That was a weak area last year and we hope to continue the trend of getting points early in the race and lead laps. last year was my career low with laps led. With Truex leading all the laps it was tough to break through. We knew we needed to work harder and to go stronger at the beginning of the races. I hope we are able to continue that trend. Stage 2 is still interesting to me because you can try to go for points in Stage 2 but then it puts you behind for the run to the finish. We are still trying to sort through the best way to approach the mid portion of the race.”

 

Ford Notes and Quotes

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

Pennzoil 400 Media Availability (Las Vegas Motor Speedway)

Friday, March 2, 2018

 

Kevin Harvick, fresh off his win last week at Atlanta, met with media members ahead of the first practice session at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Friday morning.

 

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4, Jimmy John’s Ford Fusion — YOU HAVE SOME MOMENTUM HEADING HERE TO LAS VEGAS THIS WEEKEND: “Yeah, last year didn’t go well here with the blown tire but our performance here has been really good since I came to SHR, getting to victory lane here. Obviously last week was really the way we have run in Atlanta the last five years, it is just we finally got to victory lane. I am looking forward to the weekend and hopefully we continue the momentum.”

 

FORD WAS REALLY GOOD LAST WEEK, ESPECIALLY YOURS, IS THAT AN INDICATION YOU WILL BE GOOD THE NEXT FEW RACES? “I think it is a moving target at this particular point because of all the changes we had last year. I think from last year to this year with the inspection process and the difference in the splitter, the rules, just a lot. There are no real rule changes other than the splitter but everything is difference because of the way the car is inspected. I think everyone is trying to get their arms around where they are at. I think this weekend will be a pretty good indicator of where everybody stands and stacks up from one manufacturer to another, team to team, all those things. I know Kyle Larson was really fast when they came out here and tested. As we get done with this weekend, you will see where you need to go to work and the things you need to work on for your typical 1.5-mile program. Atlanta is just way different than anywhere else we go as far as the way you drive the track, the way the car falls off. This track has a fair amount of fall-off but still far different than last week.”

 

YOU HAVE 99 WINS ACROSS THE THREE NATIONAL SERIES’, DOES THAT STAT MEAN ANYTHING TO YOU? “They kind of brought that to light last week. I hadn’t really been keeping count to tell you the truth. Now that I know, it would be pretty cool to break 100. I think that for me, it is just a reminder that you have been here for a long time and fortunate to have a fair amount of success in all three series. It is a fun stat. I think obviously for me, coming to Stewart-Haas Racing, it re-energized me and enthused me about everything that is going on. It is definitely not a bad stat. Definitely something that is kind of fun to see.”

 

DO YOU, AS A DRIVER, MARK A CERTAIN NUMBER OF WINS AS A GOAL? “I think if you really look at that, for me I would feel weird looking at that as a goal. Every year as you go and come to the race track, you want to be competitive but you just never know how the year is going to go. About the time you think you are going to win four or five races it is a struggle to win any. Even if you are running good it is hard. My goal is always to be competitive, race for wins and you never know how many will add up. I am also the guy that keeps all his trophies in a storage room because I am embarrassed to put them out. It feels like bragging to have someone see them all. For me, the gratification that comes from winning races and being successful is really about the guys on the team. I get more excited about seeing how happy they are and the people in the company. I love winning but I also feel like it is bragging if you have stuff out and about and show off what you have.”

 

IS THIS RACE GOING TO BE ABLE TO TELL YOU ANYTHING ABOUT WHAT YOU MIGHT EXPECT FOR THE PLAYOFF RACE? “I think the thought process of knowing you are coming back here for a second time is definitely a good thing and definitely something that is relevant for us as we go through the weekend. The progression of the year is always so drastic. By the time we come back in September and you look at the downforce and things the car makes at that time compared to the beginning of the year, if you look at what we raced here last year compared to what we will race today is all progression of the year. Coming back here, I think that direction will still stand and you will do some things different. Every track has its own trends and quirks about it that you want to have written down and noted. It is an important weekend to make sure you have a firm understanding of the direction of this particular race track knowing you are coming back for the playoffs. It will be different.”

 

IS THERE A RACE IN PARTICULAR YOU LOOK FORWARD TO ON THE WEST COAST SWING? “To be brutally honest with you I am looking forward to going to race the K&N car more than any of them next Thursday. Not because I don’t enjoy what I do here but because I have never raced at Kern County Raceway in my hometown. I like coming to all three of these races because i get to see so many fans and friends. The race of the three weeks that we are out here, the four that I am going to race, the one I am looking forward to the most is the K&N race because it isn’t something I get to do all the time. If I had to pick one out of the three I would pick California just because I love the surface and how much the cars wear out the tires and slide around and the multiple grooves and all the things that come with California Speedway.”

 

YOU HAVE HAD SUCH DOMINANCE AT PHOENIX, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT THEY ARE DOING WITH THE TRACK THERE? “Yeah, the restart zone will be very interesting from a driver standpoint as far as the changes because you are going to have half the field restarting in the corner and that will be different and exciting which is what we need. We need different, exciting things. I love the stadium feel they are creating in what will be turns 3 and 4 now before the start-finish line. The amount of money and time that has been spent, I think I saw the ideas three years ago of where the start-finish line would be and then the progression of the grandstands and everything that has come with it has been fun to watch. I am excited, not only for Phoenix, but for the fans and the experience that they have. Change is good. Change brings enthusiasm. It is exciting. I experienced that myself when I came to Stewart-Haas Racing with the excitement and enthusiasm that I have. It is fun to see these projects going and the differences that they make for the fan experience.”

 

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