MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
DIGITAL ALLY 400
TEAM CHEVY PRESS CONF. TRANSCRIPT
MAY 10, 2019
KURT BUSCH, NO. 1 GLOBAL POKER CAMARO ZL1 was the fastest driver in the final practice session today with a speed of 177.731 mph / 30.383 seconds, and met with media to discuss the effects of the new package, preparation for the All-Star Race, the importance of Memorial Day weekend for motorsports, and more.
WITH YOU BEING ONE OF CLINT BOWYER’S FORMER TEAMMATES, WHAT WAS THE RELATIONSHIP YOU HAD WITH HIM WHEN YOU WERE AT STEWART-HAAS?
“Bowyer is one of those true racers that you are always curious as to what he is going to say about his car or how he is going to approach a certain qualifying session or practice session. He always did it light-hearted, did it with fun, did it with swagger. Bowyer always lit up the room with his honesty and made it fun. He’s just one of those true dirt track racers from the Midwest that likes to go out there and sling the dirt. Then, there are days where he puts his collar on, straightens up and comes to the asphalt races.”
YOUR THOUGHTS GOING INTO THE ALL-STAR RACE: HAVE YOU GIVEN ANY CONSIDERATION TO IT AT ALL?
“The All-Star Race next week is with a little different front splitter and a hood configuration. I’m really looking forward to what that package will bring. The package here this weekend has been intense; it has been fun and it has been a challenge already with the way practice has been shaking up. Out there by yourself, you’re wide open and it almost gives you an indication that your car is handling too good. When you jump into the draft and you’re out there in a pack drafting like Talladega, your car is all over the place with pushing, loose, and the way the car is sliding around. It’s a big challenge. The track conditions right now are cool, but it’s still not going to be what it’s like tomorrow night. With next week at the All-Star Race, again it’s a new package, a different track, and there is so much to learn. I think that’s what you’re feeling from a lot of the drivers; the continuity, patterns, and consistency isn’t there right now because each week we go to these tracks for the first time and the packages are all over the place. Even a tire we ran last week is acting completely different at Kansas than what it does at Dover. Right now, a lot of people are just bouncing around like a ping-pong ball on their setups and that’s why there’s the action.”
CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE POKER FACE SPONSORSHIP DEAL YOU HAVE GOING ON THIS WEEK?
“Global Poker is a great advertising campaign to create attention for our brand. With Global Poker, they want everyone, social media wise, to activate onto their site and to send in their best ‘poker face’. There is going to be a chance for a grand prize type of effect for tons of people to have their face on our race car at Martinsville Speedway during the Playoffs. It is a fun initiative, social media and awareness wise, for Global Poker.”
BOWYER IS TURNING 40. SINCE YOU HAVE ALREADY PASSED THAT MILESTONE, CAN YOU GIVE HIM A LITTLE BIT OF ADVICE AS FAR AS WHAT HE HAS TO LOOK FORWARD TO?
“Bowyer will probably be mid-life crisis status. He is going to take it pretty abruptly. With each year that you come back to the tracks, the experience level that you have and the confidence level, I’ve just had to learn to ignore it. I feel like with this package and the way that our sport feels right now on this youth movement is exuberayting and a fun challenge. I feel like I just have to revert back to being 25 again and 40 is just a number.”
YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT TIRES EARLIER. HOW NOTICEABLE IS THE LACK OF TIRE WEAR OR THE DIFFERENCE IN TIRE WEAR COMPARED TO LAST YEAR?
“That’s a good question. It’s tough to really even describe it because, like last week, we were going through the corner around 17 mph quicker and we had the horsepower last week to challenge the car on corner exit. This week, the horsepower is down, so it comes back more into drafting. If you are out there in clean air, you hardly have an issue with tire wear. When you are in dirty air and you are back in the pack, you are working twice as hard and your tire wear really increases. The rich get richer or the fast get faster. When you are up front, you don’t have as much tire wear and tire air pressure build up. When you are in the back or fifth place back to fifteenth, those are the guys that are working the hardest and those are the ones that see the most tire wear and the most air pressure build up.”
IT IS INTERESTING WHAT YOU SAID ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE IN PACKAGES EVERY WEEK. IS THAT WHY THE DRIVERS ARE A LITTLE FRUSTRATED?
“It’s basically the same package at the 1.5-mile tracks, but we are going to the tracks for the first time. Kansas is acting completely different than what we thought and the most recent notes we had was Texas. Texas has two completely different ends of the race track, where it’s high-banked in turns 3 and 4 and flat (or not banked as much) in turns 1 and 2. Our group at Ganassi feels this is almost like Vegas and that was from March. We are jumping back two months, but we have also learned so much since March. I think when we come back here for the Playoff Race, it will be much calmer, so-to-speak.”
IT HAS ALSO BEEN DESCRIBED TO US AS MORE OF A MENTAL GAME, LIKE A CHESS GAME, WHICH SEEMS TO FIT RIGHT UP YOUR ALLEY AS STRATEGIC RACERS.
“There is the Talladega and Daytona effect that has happened now at the 1.5-mile tracks because we are wide open, but the handling still comes into play. What happens is that it’s more like a light switch and that’s where the good teams will learn how to take off the sharpness and the edginess the cars have and that way you race better in the pack.”
NEXT WEEK WE GO BACK TO CHARLOTTE AND LEAD UP TO THE COCA-COLA 600. WHEN YOU DID THE DOUBLE A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO, CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE PREPARATION YOU DID PHYSCIALLY BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER SO YOU COULD PHYSICALLY GO FOR BOTH RACES?
“For me, I started January 1 as a mental approach to working out twice as hard. The gym was three miles from the house, so I would run to the gym, then do the exercises, and then run back home. I was really prepared with all of the extra physical activity. I checked in with Jimmie Johnson about nutrition and adjusting things for the month of May. I went on with a super low carb diet the week of and then carb-load
on race weekend. I felt like Superman. With the preparation for myself mentally, physically, and nutritionally, the actual 1,100 miles weren’t easier than I thought, but I was prepared months in advance.”
CAN YOU DESCRIBE WHAT A BIG WEEKEND FOR RACING ALL OVER THE WORLD MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND IS?
“I love Memorial Day weekend. It’s the chance for all of motorsports to shine. I was always looking forward to getting the USA Today and seeing what they would put on there for Memorial Day Weekend in the sports section. It’s like an unofficial weekend for motorsports to shine and it kind of kicks off summer. Kids are getting close to getting out of school and you always hoped that it motivated families to come out to our events and race tracks around the country.”
YOU MENTIONED ALL OF THE NEW VARIABLES THAT ARE NOW IN PLACE. HOW DO YOU, AS A DRIVER, ADJUST MENTALLY TO KNOWING THAT THE NOTEBOOK OF DATA YOU HAVE IN YOUR HEAD IS PROBABLY NOW THROWN OUT THE WINDOW?
“It has been wild. Everything seems to be different. Even for media sessions, we now have to do media after qualifying and that was usually just for the top guys and the top rookie. There are media sessions for the top manufacturer or the fastest laps in practice. There are so many new things that you just have to roll with. I think a lot of the drivers’ frustrations was the process in qualifying and now we have that nipped. I think there is a new freshness, new feel. The racing action is what I think we need to try to focus more on.”