Kurt Busch has one victory and a new contract at Penske Racing heading into this week's Sprint All-Star race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.
At ninth in the point standings, Busch has single-handedly carried Dodge's banner this year. He talked about his start, as well as what's ahead for the 2004 series champion during a press conference last week. Here are excerpts of that interview:
Question: Now that you've had nearly two months with the rear spoiler, has it made a difference?
Busch: I think it's made a significant change in the sport, and some teams have adapted to it better than others, and there could be different drivers within the same organization that have done better or worse with it. An example I'd like to lead with is Jeff Gordon has really flourished with the new spoiler, where Mark Martin has struggled a little bit. So I find it interesting on how it's balancing the car different, whether it's front downforce, rear downforce, driving styles, and so we're starting to see what the spoiler's change is doing.
Question: You're a big Chicago Cubs fan. If they have a bad day, does it show on the racetrack with you?
Busch: I hope we can get it turned around. I'm a lifelong Cubs fan and am always there rooting for them. When I see them lose, I kind of kick the dirt a little bit and hope that tomorrow can be a better day. And the fact that they're making changes and moving around (Carlos) Zambrano to the bullpen, I think that's exciting. But I still just love the opportunity to come up to Wrigley and enjoy a game at the ballpark. I mean, it's the most fun that anybody can have. That's the true reason about being a fan of the Cubs is Wrigley Field and just loving the "Lovable Losers." So we hope we can get it turned around.
Question: If you're not running well with the spoiler, isn't it natural to blame the spoiler?
Busch: Yeah, I follow you on that. It's definitely difficult sometimes to find the exact reason on why you didn't win the race this year as you did the year before. But Mark (Martin) almost sat on the pole at Darlington. He was fast. But it seemed like throughout the full 500 miles, their car wasn't the race-winning car it was a year ago. So how much did change? And we have to look at the tire, as well. The tire seems to change weekly on all these tracks that we go to. For me I just know the balance I had at Texas last fall with the race-winning car and what I raced there this spring was enough to start thinking differently, and sometimes it matches the things that you already have in your car, sometimes it doesn't match, and you just have to uncover one rock at a time."
Question: What are your thoughts on the new NASCAR Hall of Fame?
Busch: Oh, it's a wonderful day in the history of NASCAR with the Hall of Fame grand opening (Tuesday) and all the different champions, past drivers, owners, sponsors, all the top dignitaries in NASCAR, and to have the City of Charlotte, the North Carolina government, everybody involved to make this whole deal happen, it puts us on the map with other professional sports in having a Hall of Fame. When you first walk in the door, it is overwhelming with all the different exhibits, the history. I mean, past, present, future, this is the home of NASCAR and a great way to resemble it.
Question: You've had pretty good success with the green-white-checkered finishes, but are three attempts too many?
Busch: Well, it's a rule that they made, and we have to do our best job to get the best result at the end of the day. Green-white checkers can work in your favor or they can work against you. What has happened in our sport with double-file restarts and then all of these green-white checkers at the end, the game is not over until it's over, and you have to stay in it to win it, whether you've been running good all day or whether you just got back on the lead lap and you're trying to scrap for positions. You just try to keep a positive outlook and just trudge your way through it the best that you can.