Ford Performance NASCAR: All-Star (Kurt Busch Media Availability)

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Ford Notes and Quotes

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

NASCAR All-Star Race (Charlotte Motor Speedway; Concord, NC)

Friday, May 18, 2018

 

Kurt Busch spoke with media members at a soggy Charlotte Motor Speedway after getting just one lap in practice prior to rain. Busch spoke about what he was able to learn from that one lap with the new aero package being run this weekend and more.

 

KURT BUSCH, No. 41 Monster Energy Ford Fusion — CAN YOU JUST TALK ABOUT THIS WEEKEND AND HOW IT IS DIFFERENT FROM THE REST OF THE RACE WEEKENDS? “This is quite the event. Over the years the All-Star race has always had a fun, excitement and different feel at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Whether it is pre-race of the Open or the final Monster Energy All-Star race, there is so much to see and absorb and feel that is different than a normal race weekend. This year what makes it fun is you have the All-Star race with this rules package then the 600 with a standard package and then when we come back here for the playoffs in September it is the Roval. Three unique tickets in Charlotte and you can’t get that at any other track. It is a fun time for Charlotte and I want to congratulate Marcus Smith and everyone at SMI on what they are doing to move the needle. With Monsters involvement in the All-Star race I always feel compelled to promote it as best I can. We have had commercials and appearances and autograph sessions to do all we can to find new fans and take care of our old fans that enjoy this night on Saturday night.”

 

YOU HAVE HAD SUCCESS HERE IN THIS EVENT BEFORE: “To win it overall in 2010 with a 10-lap run in the end but it followed a break. We literally could park on pit-road for a 10-minute break and made a shock adjustment in that race. I felt like the driver was a bit more in control of it with the setup changes versus the engineering side. It was great to win that and then to back it up in the 600, that was a fun double. A sweep. To be able to do that in the month of May was special. We were just going after it. We are loose, we are having fun. It was great to get out on track today. That is why I wanted to stop by and say hi after one lap on practice. There isn’t much to talk about but this is the most excited I have been to get out on track with a new rules package in a long time. Just because of the preparation going into this car, the amount of questions in team meetings and amount of contact through my phone and emails and texts and calls about this package. Everything from shocks to transmission ratios and aerodynamic balances. This weekend feels like a blend of superspeedway action, short-track action as well as a normal 1.5 mile type of speed. It is going to be really unique. I am glad we got the one lap on track to go wide open all the way around. We were wide open and I do anticipate some drafting challenges and restart challenges and track position challenges that we see at a lot of our tracks. It is packed into one little race right here with the Monster Energy All-Star race.”

 

WHAT DID YOU LEARN IN THAT ONE LAP? “That the cars travel wasn’t as far as we thought so we can go lower. But our simulation model said that we would run a 32.20 and I think we were spot on from our simulation models. Now we know we can go a little quicker by lowering the car. Also it felt like I was in third gear for six miles down the straightaway. The horsepower is choked down so much that it is a unique feel at a 1.5 mile to be this choked down on power.”

 

WITH THE IDEA BEING TO CREATE MORE PASSING, DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA IF THAT HAS BEEN ACCOMPLISHED? “I saw the Hendrick guys lined up to go do drafting practice and we are at a 1.5 mile track. I wish we were on track gathering data right now. If I could create one big topic, it seems like there are 10 different ways to approach a practice session at the All-Star race.”

 

YOU STARTED YOUR CAREER WITH FORD AND ARE WITH FORD NOW. WHAT ARE SOME BIG DIFFERENCES THAT YOU HAVE SEEN THAT HAVE GOTTEN FORD TO THIS POSITION WHERE THEY ARE NOW MAYBE THE TOP OF THE MANUFACTURERS? “The level of commitment still feels the same. Edsel Ford is still very active. Henry Ford is very active. But the immediate group underneath them now with Ford Performance, the Ford Performance group I see it everywhere. With all their different forms of motorsport collaborating together. Whereas Ford Racing before, maybe because I was younger and didn’t see it all, felt like it was more focused on the NASCAR program and didn’t use information from IndyCar or Cosworth in Formula 1 or sports cars. What I see now is information channels that are able to communicate quickly and gather data from all different branches of motorsports that Ford is involved in.”

 

DO YOU THINK WE WILL SEE DRAFTING? “I am anticipating it. I don’t know how active it will be with the draft but the way we approached our car on the 41 was in the area that was slightly different than one of the other cars at Stewart-Haas and another car went their route. We are trying to gather data as fast as we can and then be able to still zero in on what we believe will be the trend. I am anticipating pack drafting. This might be irrelevant but it might be one of those comments or an idea that was brought up years ago by Gillian Zucker, the president of California Speedway. 10 years ago she told me they had to repave the track, which they still haven’t, and she asked what I would think of a 2-mile race track putting in 28-degrees of banking and running a restrictor plate. I thought it was somewhat of a genius idea but wasn’t sure if people would go for it. She was ahead of her time. She was ahead of the curve. Here we are at a 1.5 mile race track with a restrictor plate trying to create a drafting style package because data shows that Talladega and Daytona are the two most appreciated races because of lead changes, position swaps and action on track. So we are trying it out at a 1.5 mile track and I think Gillian was ahead of her time a few years back.”

 

QUESTION INAUDIBLE: “As far as the Fords and where we were last year at Stewart-Haas Racing, we were in somewhat of a discovery mode on the balance changes with Ford on the external and internal side. Now we have all those questions answered and we are pushing those Penske guys that may have been talking about how they were at a disadvantage and we have made them stronger and they have made us stronger in an indirect way with track performance. So I feel like the aerodynamic balance is way better, the engine balance is better and we have just perfected all the different categories and thrown them into a perfect recipe.”

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK THE IMPACT WILL BE WITH REALLY LIMITED PRACTICE WITH THE WEATHER AND THIS NEW PACKAGE? “We were all hoping for more track time to be able to do filter through the information. Anytime the weather restricts you from track time it hurts. At this event it is huge. None of us have data on what the balance is with the aero and engines. At Stewart-Haas we have cars in four directions trying to find information. Hendrick was lined up to do drafting practice. Bubba was second on the board all on his own with no teammate. So many different things are going to be a player this weekend and now with weather, I literally got a text on my phone saying they were condensing the practices and going hot at 11:30 and I am at my house in Mooresville at 9. A lot of things are going to be juggled this weekend. It is fun to have the All-Star atmosphere. For Monster Energy to be promoting the race and all the things they are bringing in. I wish we didn’t have to overcome the weather.”

 

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE COURT RULING THAT FANS MAY BE ABLE TO VOTE ON THE RACES AT THE TRACKS OR IN THE STATE ON A RACE WEEKEND? “You are asking a Vegas guy that thought sports betting was legal all the time. I am not much of a bettor. I grew up in that town knowing that they didn’t build those casinos and hotels with their own money. It was built from people gambling and trying to find the edge of whatever game they were playing. With sports continuing to grow in all categories. Football, basketball, baseball, NASCAR. There is DraftKings and FanDuel and so many ways to interact with betting. There are even commercials with Buffalo Wild Wings of fans going back and forth and the banter and energy when two teams and two fandoms are going at it and if you put a dollar down on it you want to beat your buddy. I don’t know what impact it will make or if we will even feel anything different.”

 

DO YOU PREFER THE SPEED ASPECT OF THE RACE OR THE TACTICAL SIDE OF IT AND BEING ABLE TO PASS GUYS AND THIS PACKAGE GIVING THAT OPPORTUNITY? “It is tough to answer your question and then appreciate what NASCAR is trying to do with this event. I enjoy horsepower. I enjoy speed. These are supposed to be the toughest cars in the world to drive being that they are heavy, over-horsepower, under-tired. The aero is always lacking compared to Formula 1, Indycar or sports cars. But we are trying to put on a good show and create side-by-side action. One thing that I think we need to try to address, no matter if it is a downforce race or open race is that the cars are just too sensitive when they are side-by-side. We have to get the cars less dependant on side force and that will help us run side-by-side more aggressively.”

 

YOU FOLLOW OTHER SPORTS AND THEIR ALL-STAR EVENTS. WE COME HERE AND WHAT DO YOU SEE THE ALL-STAR EVENT IN THIS SPORT AS? “It is good, light-hearted competition but the seriousness that is involved is for the cash. It is for $1-million bucks, bragging rights, the check and the trophy at the end of it and knowing that you went up against the best of the best. You beat the guys that got the invite to be there. In other sports they talk about guys getting snubbed to not get invited to the All-Star game. For us there are the 20 elite that get into this show. I was on the outside looking in my rookie year and I was devastated to not be in. To not be able to be one of those elite guys.”

 

YOU CAN’T REALLY GO OUT AND JOKE AROUND THOUGH LIKE IN SOME OTHER SPORTS RIGHT? ISN’T IT JUST LIKE ANY OTHER RACE BUT WITH SOME DIFFERENT RULES? “There is the extra things we do on track to pinch somebody down or push somebody in the corner and you cross that line of driving a lot in the All-Star race. You hope that the talented guy or girl catches it and you continue on racing. There are quite a few times where there are those big wrecks because you had our guard down or were trying to get that other driver to drive harder and you will do those types of moves in an All-Star atmosphere.”

 

IS THERE ANYTHING AT ALL FROM TRADITIONAL CHARLOTTE OVAL RACING THAT APPLIES THIS WEEKEND FROM WHAT YOU FELT TODAY? “The shape of the track and the banking is there. Everything is condensed with the way that the car is driving. I just hope to get more drafting experience with the practice time and see what is going to happen. Everything is going to happen in a unique way because we will be drafting and in a restrictor plate type format and the only time we have been in that format were on much bigger race tracks. Everything is condensed into a tighter spot.”

 

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