Chevy Racing–NASCAR–Richmond–Kurt Busch

SEPTEMBER 15, 2016

KURT BUSCH, NO. 41 HAAS AUTOMATION/MONSTER ENERGY CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Chase Media Day and discussed his Chase chances, what it’s going to take to beat Toyota and many other topics. Full Transcript:

So what do you think about the Chase and your chances?

“As far as our team, it’s business as usual. We have a really strong team. I really like Tony Gibson and the way he leads this group of guys. Our pit stops have been phenomenal as of late. The way that we’ve approached our season as a team, the 41 car, it showed with our consistency. It showed all the way until Bristol, when we finished every race on the lead lap.

“We were working on Chase etiquette and Chase things all through the season, and now here we are. It’s time to go. It feels great that we’re all charged up and have our homework done and that the preparation is there. If we go do our job, we know we’re a top-eight team. We have to work our way through that Talladega, Martinsville jumble in the schedule. Other than that, we’re really looking forward to the eight races and how they all play out.

“Honestly, it just feels like if we go do our job, we’ll be in the right place.”

You look like one of the few guys that can contend against the Toyotas on Saturday night.

“A little bit at New Hampshire.”

Other than you and Kyle Larson taking tires at the end, he was able to at least get up there, but just seeing whoever was out front with the Toyotas was going to run off with it, but it still seemed like you had speed, which is something that at least should give you some sort of promise.

“Yeah, I felt like we raced that race with the approach of, All right, let’s just start our Chase now. Let’s bring a car that we know really well. Let’s bring the setup that we ran there to win with in the spring a couple years back. Polish up on what we learned this summer, throw it all into this cake, here we go.

“Richmond was a great tune-up for us. We finished eighth. Could have got fifth at the end. We qualified fifth. We led some laps. Yes, we ran right there with those Toyotas.

“I mean, each week there’s five of those guys. A couple of them have problems here or there, so you know you got to race three of them at the end of the race it seems like each week.

“But I’ll tell you, the Fords are going to be strong with those two guys at Penske. Chevrolet has eight contenders that are in the Chase. We want to be the lead guy when it gets down to Homestead on the Chevrolet camp.

Obviously you can look back at what you did at Richmond. You talk about the success early in the season, two-thirds of the regular season. You haven’t had quite as much success the last part. Do you put that in the rearview mirror? A lot of times people look at Driver X is so hot because he’s done this the last five races, and this driver is cold because… How do you look at that from a team perspective?

“It seems like the way that things are written about or viewed is very hot and cold, whereas in the team, we know we’re at temperature and everything’s running fine, that there’s no need to look at one bad finish as being cold, or one good finish as being hot. It’s a matter of preparation and getting all the way to the end of August. Now here the playoff atmosphere starts.

“The Chase is here. It kicks off at Chicago. You always feel that little burst of cold air either here or at Loudon. That means it’s fall. That means it’s the playoff atmosphere. We’re ready. Doesn’t matter what you’ve done to win your race or to win a few races to get in the Chase, it’s all about now.

“These top 16 are deserving of being here for one reason or another. Now you got to go beat the best of the best.”

You going to the game tonight?

“I won’t be going to the game tonight. The Cubs, they’ll handle it without me. I just hope their schedule doesn’t conflict with my schedule in October. That’s what it’s going to get tough, when they get to the National League Championship Series. They got to get out of the first round. They got to work their way to the World Series just like we do on the 41 car.”

With this being the third year of the Chase with the elimination format, how does the level intensify and how is that different from when it was just the 10 races? Obviously there’s always a lot of intensity and pressure toward the end. Is it that much different in this format?

“I think, speaking off my experience, the way to define the old Chase was a 10-week plateau of you’ve got to ramp up when the Chase starts and you’ve got to hold that for 10 weeks.

“This system, it can go up and down like a heartbeat from Chicago to New Hampshire to Dover and back to Kansas. But if you have a smooth Chase, this one just ramps up at a linear pace.

“So the first round, a team like we are, the 41, SHR, we’re a power team, we should be able to go out there and do our job as normal the first round and make it to the next round.

“Then you ramp it up. Then you ramp it up again. Then at Homestead, you know, you don’t hold back anything.”

The first two years of this format, there was a lot of smack talk here at this Media Day. Seems like today there’s been none of that. Guys are saying, We’re focused on our thing, trying to black everything out. Did we learn something from the past two years that we’re not going to engage in those games this year?

“I hadn’t noticed that. Maybe it’s just that there’s four new guys and they don’t know how to talk trash yet. So we’ve got to get them up to speed.

“This is fun. This is a big moment to symbolize a great regular season, to be one of the top 16. I mean, it’s important to win. It’s important for the sponsors, the manufacturers.

“The driver side of it, I think this is more of a team thing. On the track, that’s more of where the drivers can talk their trash and do their thing. This event here, it’s a symbolic feeling and a great feeling that the team and the sponsors are all successful right now, we’ve had a great regular season, but it’s playoff atmosphere and it’s time.”