Ford Performance NASCAR: Kurt Busch Phoenix Media Availability

Ford PR

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS)

Can-Am 500 Advance (ISM Raceway, Avondale, AZ.)

Friday, November 9, 2018

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion, is fifth in the current Playoff standings, trailing Kevin Harvick by three points for the final transfer spot.  He spoke about his chances in the infield media center today before practice.


KURT BUSCH, No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion – WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE HARVICK PENALTY AND BEING ONLY THREE POINTS BEHIND NOW?  “As far as the penalty on the 4, now being minus three is way better than minus 25.  Going into the Playoffs the big three had all of those bonus points from the year long performance, so we knew that we had our work cut out for us and we’ve been steady all the way through, especially this round, where we knew this was the who’s who, the final eight, the elite eight in this grouping, and Logano, I think, has performed the best on average with points.  For us, we have finished eighth or better in every stage and race finish at the end of the race in this sector in the Playoffs, and yet we were still 25 behind, which is basically what we went into the Playoffs knowing, and so it means we’ve performed the same as the big three, but we haven’t gained on them, so you’ve got to do it with a win and being minus three that does change it a little bit because we watched my little brother struggle at Texas with a penalty and he lost 20-some-odd points last week, so it can change dramatically and it’s nice to have a realistic number to go race somebody and can’t just focus on one guy, though, because all of us in this grouping of eight, I think, are the most competitive eight that we’ve ever seen this far into the season.  So if I’m so focused on Harvick or Truex, Chase Elliott can just leapfrog us and go and win the race to work his way in.  The same thing with Almirola, Bowyer, so it’s a really good group of guys and for us on the 41 car it’s exciting.  We know we’re a good team and this gives us a really good shot at it.”


DO YOU THINK THE RULEBOOK IS NOT WRITTEN VERY CLEARLY, IT’S OPEN FOR INTERPRETATION?  “if it was written in German I wouldn’t understand it either (laughing).  It definitely could use some tweaking in the way that penalties are handed out and the way that rules are interpreted.  I think all of this will be a big lesson for our sport, for the teams and just overall interpretation and the health of the way that our fans need to understand the penalties.  For me, there could be a whole different type of system.”


DO YOU FEEL WHAT HAPPENED TO HARVICK COULD HAPPEN TO YOUR CAR HERE OR AT HOMESTEAD?  “Every week everybody is pushing the envelope, whether it’s from the same organization or different manufacturers.  Everybody in the top eight is pushing in all directions that they can and so Billy Scott is our leader, my crew chief on the 41 car.  He communicates with William, our lead engineer, and our car chief has a job to do once that car clears tech to report back what went through, what didn’t and now we have to change our balance according to that because if you get a different length something or more skew it’s going to affect the car’s handling and you have to dial it in, so everybody is pushing in all directions and, for us, we just kind of keep the blinders on and go after it by our own self and see what we can get done.”


HAVE YOU HAD THE CONVERSATION WITH BILLY OF NOT GETTING THE TEAM IN TROUBLE WHEN PUSHING THE LIMITS AND DO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT LIMITS ARE BEING PUSHED?  “I’ve always encouraged Billy to use common sense, to use passion, creative ingenuity – anything and everything that we can do to make our car the best that it can be and for Billy we’ve come a long way in just this short year together.  Once we made the Playoffs with that win at Bristol, I could tell that his confidence level went up and that helped everybody around us and everybody gathered right before the Playoffs started and put all the ideas that we possibly could on the table and it’s up to Billy to decide what’s important to push and what’s not, and that’s what makes good leaders as strong as they are when they can perform at the level that they do, and then there are times you don’t push because you feel like that would hurt the integrity of the team and the integrity of yourself and your overall value as a crew chief, so it’s really up to the crew chief to push.  For me as a driver, I just go and drive.  I know that they’ve given 100 percent effort to get the car as best as it can be.”


YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW?  “I really don’t want to know on what’s pushed through and what gets through or what doesn’t.  I just go and do my part as a driver because this is a team sport.  There’s so much that goes into pit stop practice, race strategy, aerodynamics, engine, chassis design.  There are so many categories that I just go and do my job as the driver side of it, similar to what a quarterback goes and does for a football team because you’ve got to have special teams, you’ve got to have defense, you’ve got to have all these other elements to be successful.”


AS STRONG AS HARVICK HAS BEEN AT PHOENIX RECENTLY, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR CHANCES OF BEATING HIM STRAIGHT UP BY THREE OR FOUR POINTS?  “I feel pretty good.  This week with the penalty it’s like we won two stages without even firing up the engine on our car, and so now we’re equal and the job now is to get stage one, stage two and to see how things pan out for the end of the race.  We finished 10th here in the spring, but we stayed out to try to win stage two and then got buried I think 25th or 26th on that restart and it took us a long time to work our way back to the top 10.  We know our job is gonna be tough, but we just have to go after it.”


IF THERE IS A CRACKDOWN ON SPOILERS WILL WE NOTICE A DIFFERENCE IN WHO IS GOOD AND WHO ISN’T?  “I don’t think you’ll see much here at Phoenix.  Yes, aerodynamics are important at every race track.  If they took an inch of his rear spoiler way, that would make a big difference.  I don’t think you’ll see much this weekend.  This is one of those old school, short track, Saturday night, Sunday afternoon brawls that you have all these guys in position to work their way towards the championship round in Miami and this is what it’s all about – just omit and forget the penalties.  Wherever the points stack up there are two guys that feel really safe right now, Joey Logano and my little brother, Kyle Busch.  Beyond that, there are six of us going for those two spots.  That’s the excitement.  That’s the value.  That’s why the grandstands are gonna be full on Sunday and that’s what should be talked about is the value of what a cutoff race is to get to the championship round.  Thirty-four race weekends have already gone by.  This is 35 and there’s one more after this for a shot at the championship.  That’s what I’m excited about.”

HOW IS IT TO SEE TONY GIBSON BE ABLE TO COME OUT OF THE SHOP AND SERVE AS INTERIM CREW CHIEF ON THE 4?  “I love the depth at SHR.  When you’re having a situation like the 4 car is going through and you call on your next-best guy and it’s my crew chief that we won the Daytona 500 with last year, that’s an impressive roster of people and Gibson will execute perfectly for that team on what they need to do all weekend.  That car is very successful here at Phoenix, and so he’ll be the glue that keeps everybody together and he’ll keep that calming force behind him.  He’s my old crew chief.  I’m racing against him this weekend for a shot at the title, but, again, that’s just the quality and the effort that SHR puts forth every week.”


WHAT DO YOU ANTICIPATE WITH RESTARTS THIS WEEK?  “It’ll be pretty wild.  I anticipate a lot of different moves.  The first thing I did when I got to the hauler was to DVR the truck race and the XFINITY race to watch the replays and to see how different moves are put together.  With the start-finish line where it is and the dogleg shape, you can go all the way down to the bottom of the track, but the further you go down there, the dirtier it gets as far as dust and dirt and rubber build up, and so you risk that trash on your tires when you drop down into turn one.  We’ll see how it plays out.  It’s gonna be pretty exciting though to see the way that the trucks and the XFINITY guys start to pave the way for us.”


FOUR OF THE DRIVERS FIGHTING FOR THE LASTS TWO SPOTS ARE SHR DRIVERS.  IT MAY COME DOWN TO YOU AND KEVIN FOR ONE OF THOSE SPOTS.  AT THIS POINT ARE ALL THE SHR TEAMS WORKING TOGETHER OR IS IT EVERY MAN FOR HIMSELF?  “Today is Friday.  We’re still working together (laugher).  Saturday, we’ll still work together, but maybe not as much.  Sunday, it’s every team and every car number for himself.  That’s the culture that we have all put together at SHR.  I learned it at Roush years ago when we put five cars in the Playoffs and you work together six days out of the week and go race on the seventh.”


ANY UPDATE ON NEXT YEAR?  “No update on next year.  I’ve still got to get all the things lined up.”

Greg Engle