NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Lenox Industrial Tools 301
Topics: Lenox Industrial Tools 301
June 29, 2008
LOUNDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE
THE MODERATOR: We're now joined in the infield media center by today's winner, driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge, Kurt Busch. Kurt, tell us about your run.
KURT BUSCH: It was a good weekend for us, just working through some of our new test data that we put together from Milwaukee this week.
Came with a different package. I felt like we were a bit more competitive. You know, I made a joke in practice, We passed somebody (laughter). So it's been a long year of just trying to get Penske Racing back to form.
You know, we started off with a bang at Daytona. But we feel like we've got all the right people. I love Pat Tryson, all the crew guys underneath him. Like all the guys back at the shop. We can't quite put our finger on what we need.
So today was a good car for what we've been normally, and that put us in position to stretch our fuel a little bit. When we could make it to the end, we pitted. We needed a few laps to help us. But we were gonna be loaded for bear and ready to rock'n roll if it came down to the end.
When everybody pitted with, I don't know, 30 laps to go, when I was told, You're in the lead, there's 26 laps to go, that's the most motivation a driver could ever ask for because you want to hold it off and bring it home for your team.
So we were gonna have our work cut out for us. I felt we could have held off some the guys right behind us, and pit strategy worked out perfect. It's all credit to Pat Tryson.
THE MODERATOR: We are also joined by today's winning crew chief, Pat Tryson. Tell us a little bit about that pit strategy.
PAT TRYSON: Last couple times here fuel strategy has been fairly important and track position's important. So we only give up a little bit of track position at that time, put us within a couple laps of making it to the end. We just needed one caution. Fortunately we got that caution. Then obviously we got another caution. Everybody else came down pit road, left us up there. The rain came sooner that than we thought it would, but it all worked out.
THE MODERATOR: We'll now open it up to questions from the media.
Q. A few races here lately where people get the right cautions at the right time, people hit things right, it plays into strategy perfect. It's a gamble. A lot of that has to do with luck - whether people believe it's luck. Do you believe in racing luck and do you do anything to change your luck? With circumstances you've had this year, do you do anything different or anything like that?
KURT BUSCH: You know, I learned early on, before I even really made it up to the Cup level, that luck is definitely a player in racing. I think Richard Childress defined luck the best. He says, When preparation meets opportunity, that's luck. And we were prepared today, and the opportunity presented itself to pit when we did. You have to have a fast enough car, a prepared car. So things came into play for us.
A lot of cautions have been falling for guys like that this year. My little brother had a fast racecar last weekend and won at the road course. Didn't see him all day, though. And he pops up right when he needs to.
It's something that's always been in the game. You've got to have strategy. You have to have a fast car. Where we are in points, we've got our backs up against the wall. So we gambled a little bit and it paid off.
Q. Pat, can you talk about what this will do for your team. Doesn't really matter how you win something or the weather, your team needed this. Also, how much were you watching the Doppler?
PAT TRYSON: Well, we were watching the weather a little bit. But our strategy was to make it to the end. I think some of the other guys were counting on the rain getting here earlier than it did. We were counting on it holding off.
It means the world to us. Like I said, we've struggled a little bit this year. It hasn't been as much fun as it was last year obviously. But hopefully this will give us some momentum, put some more fun back in it, hopefully we can score some more wins and still make it in the Chase.
Q. This is a notorious track-position track. Today the top three cars started 26th, 36th and 30th. How often has that ever happened at a track like New Hampshire?
KURT BUSCH: I think it's just everybody that was in the top 10 today, I don't know where Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon ended up, but it was a flip-flop. The guys running 10th through 18th flip-flopped themselves up into first through eighth. That's what I could see from the racecar. I don't know the exact numbers. But that was all due to the fuel strategy and with the pit stop with 75 laps to go.
I was surprised. My little brother pitted on that same caution as us and was faster than us, but he ended up pitting again. So that just shows that you got to have a little bit of luck on your side, as well.
Q. Pat, there was something hanging from the bottom of your car at the end. Could you explain what that was? Would that have been a problem had the race restarted?
PAT TRYSON: It was a brake (indiscernible) that we mount on our trailing arm. Something must have come up and hit it, knocked it loose. We knew what it was. We weren't worried about it. It was attached well enough it wasn't going to fall off. Sometimes everything goes your way. Today was one of those days. We've been working real hard. So that helped, too.
Q. Michael Waltrip came in here and kept correcting everybody that said the rained helped, because he said it was a fuel strategy race. Do you want to add anything to that? I think he believes that he could have caught you. Do you think you could have held him off?
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, I felt like it was going to be a great duel down to the end with everybody on old tires. Everybody would have been slipping and sliding. I think he's exactly right, that this was more fuel strategy to get to lap 301 than it was with the rain. So the rain aided us, but yet I felt like we had track position. I felt like my fire and desire was going to overcome anything today to get into Victory Lane.
Once I saw that we were leading and we were out in front with 26 to go, that good old Kurt Busch jumped up on the wheel. I told myself, Don't let your team down. This is what you live for, this is what you race for, and that is to go to Victory Lane. I'm happy to bring it home for Miller Lite and Dodge today.
Q. Kurt, what is it about this place that seems to have a redemptive, restorative effect on your season? You won the championship after sweeping here in 2004. Now you get this win and you come out of here with a renewed sense of spirit.
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, I would love to have 2004 types of cars to drive right now, but we have this new car. So we still have our work cut out for us to make the Chase and to do better things by the end of this year.
But this is a great shot in the arm. Miller Lite and everybody up in Milwaukee will be celebrating tonight. But I like this racetrack. I like how there's different lanes to choose, whether it's the low lane, the middle or even there's the upper lane. And each lane has its different banking. If your car can cut across the low part of the racetrack, stick to the bottom, I think that pays dividends, and that helps you move forward when everybody else is struggling with their tight-handling cars.
Q. It's been my experience that on pit road you guys have all kind of technology, you could launch a satellite. Up in the press box we knew it was about to rain, and I figure that down on pit road some people knew that, too. How much did you know about the weather?
PAT TRYSON: We saw it was coming. Those things give you a rough idea, but you never know exactly when it was gonna get there. At that point we were watching it more than we were anything. To be honest, we were rooting for it not to rain because we had the fuel mileage to make it to the end and other guys were going to have to pit. We weren't really counting on the rain. It just kind of worked out that they all pitted there and it rained. You know, could have went the other way, too.
Q. You mentioned the Milwaukee test. With that in mind, do you credit this victory to a little bit of both the pit strategy and what you found in Milwaukee or do you feel like you lean one way or the other?
KURT BUSCH: You know, as hard as we're working, you can't just point to one thing and say that's what helped us get to Victory Lane. Fuel mileage has been a big issue. We still need to work on that. We need to get our cars handling better. And we're working. We're working hard. We're testing all the time. Ask my wife. Ask the crew members. You know, we're on the gas trying to get our 2, 12 and 77 teams up, running competitive every week. So it's hard to put your finger on one thing.
We'll definitely think about what Milwaukee gave us, our fuel mileage, and just the heart of this team. It's not due to lack of effort that we're not up front, because we're putting a full effort forward trying to find what it is.
I like the people. I like the program. Pat Tryson is an awesome crew chief and team leader. I just wish there was one thing we could put our finger on to do better, but we're going to keep working.
Q. Pat, can you talk about what led you to pit that last pit stop. I think you were 13th. You were the second car to come in at that point. You left a lot of guys out in front of you. And also talk about the fuel mileage. I was thinking you haven't always had the best fuel mileage. On the first pit stop today you went about as far as anybody else.
PAT TRYSON: Yeah, I mean, our motor shop has been working hard on fuel mileage because we've been asking them to. It helped that they've gotten better. We've worked on it hard. Worked on it by testing.
But, yeah, we were set up for fuel strategy there just 'cause I seen races here come down to fuel strategy. I run out here before on the last lap and lost spots. We were hoping -- you know, these Car of Tomorrow races, Car of Today, whatever you want to call it, seem to stay green a lot more than what we used to do. It's always been when you can go the distance, you pit. We couldn't quite go the distance, but it was close enough to take the risk that you get a caution and you make it to the end. 'Cause if you looked early in the race, the 5 and the 83 stayed out or did gas-only and got track position and were able to stay up there.
Staying up front is way more critical in these races than it used to be.
Q. How close was your calculation?
PAT TRYSON: I think we were -- when we pitted, I think we were four or five laps short. The one caution helped us. I think we were close enough with taking the risk of running out. I think we were going to be okay.
Q. You've been in this position before, Kurt. Can you empathize with a guy who dominates the race and doesn't win, referring to Stewart.
KURT BUSCH: Yeah, I've been on the flipside of it plenty of times. There's those times where you just grit your teeth and go, What could we have done different and why did it happen this way? And so it isn't pretty, but we'll take it.
That's the beauty of Sprint Cup racing, is the competition level is always at its best. Guys that have fast racecars sometimes don't win because they got out-dueled in the pits with the pit strategy.
Hey, you take 'em when you can get 'em because you get burned plenty of times the other way.
Q. How much did the track change from the sun-splashed start to the cloud cover hitting at the end? NASCAR is apparently considering opening up Winston Cup tracks to unlimited testing. How will that affect your test schedule?
KURT BUSCH: The word 'Winston' threw me off, sorry.
The racetrack itself, it was a surprise to have the sun out. With all of our practice being during the overcast, the cooler temperatures, I felt like our car was gonna be tight in the center part of the corner with the sun out. We made adjustments. We corrected it as best we could. Then as the race progresses, it always gets a little slicker, I think, with the rubber buildup, with the oil from the cars, just the grease. So the track went through its normal stages of changing.
Yeah, I'll open it up to Pat about the testing procedure. I think the divorce lawyers in North Carolina are going to get the big hit with us testing as much as we think we're gonna now.
PAT TRYSON: Obviously if they opened up the unlimited testing, everybody is going to test every week. You won't have a choice. If you want to win races, you'll have to test every week. But I'd be surprised if it ends up being unlimited. I think they throw that out there to see how mad we all get and see what happens. But I think there will be a limit. It will be organized a little different than it was in the past.
All in all, I think it will be a good thing and maybe we won't have to spend as many weeks in Kentucky, Milwaukee, places. Maybe we can go test where we're actually going to race and actually get more benefit from testing.
KURT BUSCH: And use the Goodyear tire we race on. There is not sense in buying a different supplier's tire. We should test at the racetracks we race on and we should use the tires that we use.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, congratulations. Thank you.
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