NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Subway Fresh Fit 500
Topics: Subway Fresh Fit 500
April 18, 2009
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by tonight's third-place finisher of the Subway fresh fit 500, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge Kurt Busch. Kurt, tell us about your run tonight.
KURT BUSCH: Big Dirk is always good with numbers: This was our 300th start, qualified third, finished third, ended up third in points again, nice, solid night for our Miller Lite Dodge and our team heading into Talladega. I think this is where the points start to settle in, if you can get through Talladega without any serious mayhem.
But for us worked on the car and made great adjustments. Kudos to my crew; they did a solid job on pit road tonight. But I was the one that made the mistake out on the trap. A lapped car had fresh tires and we had old tires, and I got the car in the fence on turn four and it bent up the suspension because there was concrete inside the wheels. That's when you have a pretty good hit, and so I felt like I took our chances away at competing for the win.
But to battle back to third, that's a great effort from this team right now, and the way that our season has gone, just nice and steady. I'm just pumped up. I thought that was an excellent day for us.
Q. You raced with Mark Martin at Roush Racing. Can you just tell us what he means to this sport? Just throw it out there.
KURT BUSCH: That's a great question, because all night long I was thinking: What would Mark Martin be doing right now, how does he drive his car? Set-up notes were going through my mind of the times Mark and I drove together; how loose he liked his race cars, how loose I liked mine and how similar we drove when we were teammates. And I felt like, how am I going to beat this guy right now, how am I going to compete with beating Mark.
And the guy has been at the top of his game for 30 years in this sport, it's unbelievable to watch, or however many years he's been in. If I'm halfway as competitive as he is when I'm in my 50s, that would be an accomplishment, because to finish behind him, it's easy for anybody to do because he is tough right now, and to see them at Hendrick, it's like last week at Texas, Jeff Gordon had never won at Texas, had been strong all year; the stars aligned. I think that's what happened with Mark this weekend. To sit on the pole and win the race, those guys are strong right now.
I did think about it all throughout the race; what would Mark be doing right now? How would I catch him being the same guy as him?
Q. How did the track handle, how did it change from day tonight and how did you deal with those changes with the car?
KURT BUSCH: I felt like we started the race on the tight side, and then we were having trouble putting the power down off turn four when the sun was out. I ignored how loose the car was on power down because I felt like that would go away with the sun setting, and it did, but we were a bit on the tight side, and so I had to loosen up the race car. When I did that, the crew got me out in front, we left some laps out in the lead and felt comfortable up there.
And about lap 200, that's when we were at our best, track was at full night, car was handling great, and just felt like we were out of adjustments at that point and we needed 112 more laps; if we were going to make the car run, we had to make the car wide and got beat by a couple of strong cars tonight, but it felt good to run up there.
Q. Can you imagine racing when you're 50 years old? That's like 22 years from now.
KURT BUSCH: That's a long time. I'm going to have to start hitting the weights and getting into a Mark Martin work out regimen.
My dad bought me a book called Strength Training by Mark Martin when I was a kid, and that's when I was --
TONY STEWART: Four years ago?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, four years ago (laughs). And I was like, man, this guy is built like a brick-you-know-what. And it's cool to see him out there running strong. The guy turned his life around after he ran ASA, jumped in with Jack and spent his whole life running through the center of the corner racing hard, and now he's got the whole package and running the straightaway well. He's a tremendous individual and legends of our sport. He's definitely going to put a championship run together.
Q. What was it called?
KURT BUSCH: Strength Training.
THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by second-place finisher of the race, driver of the No. 14 Old Spice Office Depot Chevrolet. Tell us about your run.
TONY STEWART: Happy with it. Only way you could be happier is if you beat Mark Martin. Really proud of our organization, really proud of Darius Grubb and Jeff and all of our guys on our Old Spice Office Depot team.
I'm telling you, the last three weeks have just been amazing. I mean, it's been so much fun: We've been in contention; we have led laps; we are doing everything right. It's just a matter of time. We are consistent now and that's what you've got to be. We are just clicking them off one at a time here. We are just a tick off but there's no shame in losing to a guy like Mark Martin tonight.
I don't think there's anybody that's not a Mark Martin fan. It was an awesome night for our organization and awesome night for Mark. Nobody, just like Kurt said, nobody works harder to stay in shape to be good and be fit and to be ready to go than Mark does. And when you see somebody that works that hard at it, you like to see the results come for him, too.
Q. How did the track change from day tonight and how did you adjust with your car on that?
TONY STEWART: Didn't seem like it changed a lot to us. We kept fighting for it all night and just were really loose back to the gas up off to the corner. That's where Mark was just a little better than us that second to last run when he ran us down at the end. He could get in the gas and stay in it and get a big drive off the corner.
Just seemed like what we fought, we fought all night and it didn't really change for us. As it got a little bit cooler it got more grip but that's Phoenix. That's what it always does and that's what makes this place so fun. It's not freshly paved. It's not locked down. You've got to drive the cars here. Nobody's cars drive perfect here, you get one end of the track right and the other end suffers, whether it's tight or loose, and so you have to constantly adjust as a driver and that's what makes this place so much fun for us.
Q. You have the weight on your shoulders now; how satisfying is it to have such a nice year so far?
TONY STEWART: I mean, the guys that do this every week can probably tell you better than me. This is the best spring or the first ten races that I've ever had in my career so far I think.
It's made it a lot easier. Doesn't feel like such a heavy weight when it's going well like this. I don't think any of us would have predicted we would be in the Top-5 in points. To have the runs like we have had the last three weeks, it definitely makes that a lot smaller and lighter weight on your shoulder than it would be if you were struggling.
I think for us, it's been refreshing just when you've never had a start like this to the season, it's nice to finally have one; after ten years of this, it's amazing to think that with a new team we can go out and have this kind of a start to the year.
Q. I saw you, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton, all in victory lane congratulating Mark. What does that say about Mark and how the drivers feel about him?
TONY STEWART: Tells you how much respect we all have for him. There's nobody that dislikes Mark, and Mark was responsible for so many of us learning what it took to be a Sprint Cup driver and to be that caliber of a driver.
When you came up in the Nationwide Series and ran with him when he just dominated, he taught you a lot while you were running those races. And when you had a good day against Mark and when you did things right and you watched him and learned from him, that just accelerated the learning curve to get you ready for the Sprint Cup Series.
Mark has taught us all a lot about what it takes to be not only a good driver in this series but a good competitor and somebody that everybody respects.
THE MODERATOR: Tony, congratulations.
|Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library|