NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Food City 500
Topics: Food City 500
March 21, 2010
KERRY THARP: We'll roll into our post race for today's race here at Bristol Motor Speedway. Our second-place finisher is Tony Stewart. He drives the No. 14 Office Depot Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing. Tony, you certainly had a good racecar, really came strong that last restart. Talk about that.
TONY STEWART: Yeah, first time I got track position all day. You know, we were just a little bit loose the run before the last caution there. We didn't have a choice, knowing when the caution came out, knowing to stay or come in. It was just a matter to take two or four. If we were really tight, I probably would have requested four. Being loose, I felt like we could afford to make a chassis adjustment and just put right sides on. Darian backed me up on that. That made me feel confident we did the right thing.
We got lucky on the restart. Matt spun the tires, we were able to get second there, get underneath Greg, get by. But we weren't able to hold off Jimmie. So, you know, they did a great job. He was fast all day. It wasn't like it was somebody that had backed into it.
I was proud of our day, proud of our guys. We had a couple stops that were off. But the guys, I'm really proud of the way they rebounded the next stop when we came in and were able to rifle off a quick one. Happy with the day.
KERRY THARP: Update on Tony's Sprint Cup record here at Bristol. Very impressive six top fives and eight top 10s at Bristol.
Tony, we'll let you go. Thank you.
We've got our third-place finisher in today's race, Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge for Penske Racing. Kurt, hard luck afternoon for the No. No. 2 car.
KURT BUSCH: All in all, to come home third, lead a lot of laps today at Bristol felt good. It's a total team effort. We were committed to four tires at the end. You know, all day long, let's rewind and go back to the beginning of the race where we started outside pole. Felt like we had a car to beat early on in the race. Especially on the long runs, I felt like we were able to make up time. That was the weak spot of the 48 car, some of the other competitors.
I felt like as the race progressed, we were there in the mix, whether it was a stop here that bumped us up a spot or a nice adjustment by Steve Addington, I felt like we were the car to beat. The only weak area we had was starting out on fresh tires after a restart. That bit us at the end.
To pour my heart and soul into this race to beat the 48 car, I was trying to hit my marks every lap. I feel exhausted, I feel disappointed. All in all, to bring the Miller Lite Dodge home in third as a competitive car, that's our job. That's what Roger Penske says, is, Make your car competitive and things will play out sometimes in your favor and other days they won't play out in your favor.
We just got bottled up behind the 99 on the inside lane. The guys with two tires, the outside seemed to prevail all day long. That's where the 48 was able to restart. When luck shines your way, it shines your way. It's time to overcome it all.
Felt like we had the effort today, just came up short. To finish third, we'll take it.
KERRY THARP: Questions for Kurt Busch.
Q. Could you talk about what your strategy was before that last pit stop. You called for the four tires and said you had a game plan. What did you envision that you couldn't do because of the restart?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, I was hoping that the 99 would have gotten a better restart. You know, I had a plan to go underneath him coming out of turn two. Shoot, I was on his high side by the time I got to turn one. The game plan changed right away.
When guys have two tires, they hold everybody up as far as slipping their tires on restarts. My game plan was to rough up the 99 as quick as I could, get by him on the inside, and that would have bottled up the outside lane. But it didn't work out. You have to make those split second decisions and it didn't go in my favor on that one.
Q. I know the 48 won today, but are you fairly confident you've reached the point where you can run with them and beat them every week?
KURT BUSCH: Well, they're going to be tough next week at Martinsville. We'll be lucky to finish 10th (laughter). That's why I was really pouring my heart and soul into winning this one. He's going to have a solid car next week.
We looked at the lap tracker today or Saturday's practice, saw the 48 was going to be the car to beat. They are every week. It's up to the best of us to knock him off the top. So it's rough. You know, they've won three times this year. Not that we need to deserve to win, it's just that they are winning every chance they're given. We have just need to position ourselves more to get those wins.
I feel confident that we've turned a good corner. I have a great crew chief in Steve Addington. Maybe a missing link I've been missing at Penske for years. But it's early in the year. We've had a couple solid runs. We're not going to get too far ahead of ourselves.
Q. TV said that on the last stop that Steve wanted to go with two, you overruled him. Is that correct?
KURT BUSCH: That's false. I'm really good at getting stuff written about me that's false.
Q. Four tires all the time?
KURT BUSCH: Four tires all the way. Who won the race? Jimmie Johnson. Four tires all the way.
Q. You were talking about Steve and maybe he was the misses link. Why have you been able to click so quickly?
KURT BUSCH: Really it's a matter of just past experience, not jumping to conclusions too quickly to bolt onto the car. I felt like we had a solid program with the 2, what we did last year at Penske. He had a solid program on what he did on the 18 car. He has his notes. We have our notes.
The weird thing is, we found two ways to skin the same cat, the COT. But, you know, it's a matter of finding the right balance week in and week out. We found it for a couple races. But now with this new spoiler coming in, things are going to change quite a bit. Martinsville and Phoenix, then of course at Texas, that will be the big test for this rear spoiler.
It's good to go out with a bang. I was hoping to win the last race with a wing. If it meant anything, no. It was going to be a feather in the cap, though.
Q. Talk about what you saw Jimmie do there at the end. Here is a track years ago you could barely get around a car single wide and he goes three-wide to get the lead.
KURT BUSCH: He was on the outside lane and the seas parted for him. Similar for us at Atlanta where the guys, I was able to split them, get the lead right away. He was able to clear the cars with two tires quicker than we were. I was bottled up on the inside.
Q. Is that a gutsy move?
KURT BUSCH: Not any more. You just hammer down on these restarts, close your eyes and see what you get because it's a crapshoot.
Q. You talked about the spoiler briefly. When the COT came about, a lot was made with the adjustments of trying to get the car to handle with the wing. Do you see the same thing happening when you bring the spoiler in?
KURT BUSCH: I think there's going to be a learning curve for all the race teams, I absolutely do. I think it's going to be a big hurdle for a lot of teams to cross over. It will get back to who does it the best, the quickest.
That's similar to Joe Gibbs Racing, when they fired up these COTs, they were hot, they couldn't be beat. Of course, Hendrick has been strong all along.
Maybe this will slow them down a little bit and us at Penske Racing and our Dodges, we can stumble across something that will give us a competitive advantage.
KERRY THARP: Kurt, thank you. Good look at Martinsville.
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