NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: 5-Hour Energy 500
Topics: 5-Hour Energy 500
June 12, 2011
LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA
THE MODERATOR: We now welcome here in the media center Kurt Busch, who finished second in today's race.
Kurt, talk a little bit about the race itself and those last few laps.
KURT BUSCH: It was a great, hard-fought battle for us in the 22 car today. Just a nice, steady run. We were able to have smooth pit stops, not the greatest, but smooth. We had a great-handling car at certain points of the race, a little tight here, a little loose there. Just a great genuine day for our team to run in the top five all day.
It's pleasing to see that result. I'm exhausted. It was a great, hard-fought battle with Jeff Gordon at the end. It started about 130 laps in, about 70 to go, where we were able to take the lead, stretch it out. Then there was a caution. The 24 beat us out of the pits. It was a great battle.
I thought we could gain on him after 15 laps into the run. We were able to do that most of the day. We were able to do that again at the end, but we just couldn't close the gap far enough. The old 'Golden Boy' had it in him today. He ran strong. It was a very genuine battle that we had.
Neither one of us slipped those final few laps. It was just one of those, I'm giving it all I got and I can't close the gap. Interesting day with shifting. Shifting quite a bit today, keeping track of the temperatures, the revs on the engine, fuel mileage as well, a lot to balance inside the car.
THE MODERATOR: We're also joined by Kyle Busch, who finished third in today's race.
Kyle, talk about the race itself and those last few laps.
KYLE BUSCH: For us, we had a long way to come from. We started deep in the field, worked our way up toward the front steadily and methodically much of the race. Had good pit stops all day. The guys did a good job of giving me the right adjustments, helping the car drive a little better each and every pit stop.
The restarts helped us. We passed a few cars there. That last restart there we seemed to get most of our track position, then all we had to do was pit one more time. Some guys short-pitted and some guys long-pitted. We went right in the middle.
Kurt was so much faster than I was that last run of the race, wasn't going to do me much to hold him up. Tried to let him go to try to catch the 24, make a race out of it for you guys. We didn't have much to keep up with those guys there at the end. We made sure to keep the tires under it, keep the car in one piece, bring home a solid third.
THE MODERATOR: We'll open it up for questions.
Q. Kurt, can you talk about the accomplishment of what Jeff Gordon did today, ties him for all time wins with Waltrip and Allison. As a former champion, can you talk about your battles with him over the years.
KURT BUSCH: It's impressive to see what he's done over his career, not just in this decade, not in the 2000s, back all the way to the '90s. He's a true legend in our sport, a four-time champion.
When I came in as a rookie, I set the bar to try to compete with him, to race against him the best I could. We've had our good and tough battles on the track. Today I wanted more. I wanted to get up there and race with him hard, show him that he's going to have to work harder to get these wins in the latter part of his career. But he's Jeff Gordon, he's that good. The team is solid.
It's amazing to see that accomplishment, that he's done that here in the current age. It seems like all the guys that have got those 200, 105, 84 wins, those all came in the mid portion of how our NASCAR series developed, not the early portions of the '50s and '60s, but '70s, '80s and '90s.
KYLE BUSCH: It's great for Jeff, really good for those guys. Those are my five guys, Alan Gustafson, Lee, a couple of the other guys, too. It's great to see those guys have a good day and get a win. I would have liked to have seen Kurt get up there and give him a run for his money.
But certainly it's harder and harder to win in this day and age. We seem to see it every year. But some years some teams have really special years, like myself in '08, I think it was Kurt in '04 or '05, that he won seven or eight races. Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson has done it. You have those special teams that can do it in some years, but it doesn't happen all that often.
Q. Kurt, I know after last week when you had to pit late, you still said after the race it was good to have a car that ran up front most of the day. When you put that race and this race together, is it fair to say do you think you've turned a corner?
KURT BUSCH: They're a great two weeks. I feel like we've got what we need to continue moving forward. It's not all there. We still need to have A pluses in all areas of our team, whether it's the motor department, aerodynamics, pit crew, crew chief-driver communication.
To run for the win the last two weeks in a row and have two poles, it's pretty solid.
Q. Kyle, what was going on with you and Kevin early in the race? NASCAR said just to race the race.
KYLE BUSCH: I'm not really sure to be honest with you. I was running my own race. It was another car I had to pass. Seemed like he was trying to make it awfully difficult on me.
There's a couple times where I just had to back off and wait, got back to him and tried to pass him again. Maybe kind of shows his character and who he is, how he feels he needs to race on the racetrack. But it's not my fight. He's trying to turn it into one.
Q. Kyle, do you feel you're starting little by little to figure this place out now?
KYLE BUSCH: This isn't one of my best. Today we had a good run. That's all I could ask for. I can't say enough about Dave Rogers, the work he did this weekend. We both did a lot of work. I stayed up studying a lot of stuff. He did as well, too. Talking with Mike Ford, Denny Hamlin, getting those guys to really help us out.
It was a shame to see Denny have his problems that relegated him to deep in the field with a flat tire after a pit stop on pit road. That was a shame.
They helped us an awful lot, gave us a lot of notes to go off of, a lot of things to try. It was up to me and Dave to put it in the car and up to me to make it work.
Q. Carl Edwards came in here with a 40-point lead. Given his DNF today, how is it going to help the rest of the team fall into place, top five?
KURT BUSCH: How did he have problems? Engine issue? That's one concern all of the of us had in the back of our minds today with the extra shifting. You could leave it in third gear longer. It was a concern all day long.
When the points leader has problems, everybody's just chomping at the bit, licking their lips, going, Wow, look at this, I'm right back in this.
When you're having good runs like we are, my little brother, just plugging away, that helps you feel more solid when you get to the month of August after you get through the Brickyard, making that summer run to the Chase.
Right now it's all about consistency. I'd like to break through and get a win just to help us feel more confident in our Chase position. When the points leader has trouble, everybody benefits from that.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much for your time today. We appreciate it.
|Connect with The Crittenden Automotive Library|