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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Drivers sound off on ‘crazy’ racing; Kurt Busch talks Dodge

BROOKLYN, Mich. – Aggressive, crazy, unbelievable.

What are the drivers talking about? That’s pretty obvious if you’ve seen the races lately. Since NASCAR’s edict that they’ll let the drivers race each other hard, and the addition of rules like the double-file restarts, up to 3 green-white-checkered finishes and wave-arounds, there have been some pretty rough restarts. And the general consensus among drivers is that’s good for the fans, even if some drivers don’t like it.

“It’s crazy. On some restarts, there was some crazy stuff going on, people taking risks that ended in wrecks,” Carl Edwards said Friday. “Some people say ‘Screw it, I’m going for it.’ ”
Edwards said it’s all about choices.
“I could go 3-wide and door-slam someone just like anyone else, but do I really have to do it?”

Jeff Burton said Friday that he believes that despite the craziness, the racing is now better.
“These restarts, it’s just unbelievable how aggressive they are. And it’s made much better racing,” Burton said. “It’s by far the right thing to do. It just puts all the good cars in a wad, and everybody views that as an opportunity to pick up positions.”

Denny Hamlin said Friday that it’s all about taking advantage of the opportunities you are given on restarts.
“If your car’s bad, you have to get all the positions you can on restarts. Everyone tries to get everything they can,” he said.

Jeff Gordon said drivers have to use their heads, though, and it shouldn’t turn into a demolition derby.
“There’s a different between taking a guy out and hard racing at the end of the race,” he said. “I lost 10 spots on one restart, gained 3 or 4 on another. You have to be extremely aggressive. I don’t think it’ll settle down.”

Matt Kenseth said that it puts drivers in a tough position, but they have no choice but to get used to it.
“It happens because that’s what the powers that be want. When you have 2-wide restarts and 3 green-white-checkered runs, there’s not a lot of time for patience. It’s just the way it is,” Kenseth said. “We’ve got to get used to it. We get put in that spot every week.”

Elder statesmen Mark Martin said that in the past, drivers didn’t race this way because they were afraid they’d wreck a lot and lose their ride. Now, he said, that’s not as big a concern for many competitors, so drivers are willing to take more risks.

He recognized the appeal to fans, and said he’s looking forward to watching this kind of racing whenever he decides to quit, and that will be more fun that actually being part of it.
“You will certainly see more of that in the future, not less,” he said. “In some ways, I’m glad I’m 51 and not 31, because I’m going to enjoy watching these things in the future instead of dragging them in on the hook.”

Kurt Busch: Dodge considers us ‘family’
Kurt Busch, who won the pole for Sunday’s race on Friday, said he enjoys coming to the home base of Dodge for the MIS races. He said he attended some events earlier this week at the Chrysler Tech Center in Auburn Hills, and noted that Dodge is dedicated to the success of the Penske Racing team – with drivers Busch, Sam Hornish Jr. and Rochester Hils native Brad Keselowski.

“The technology that crosses over between the race teams and production cars, it’s really neat to be part of that program. To walk through the Chrysler Tech Center facility, now being with Dodge my sixth year, I almost know my way around that campus,” Busch said. “It is special to be a program where we have all our eggs in one basket. We are their factory team. They’ll pulling for us like we’re part of the family.”

Heading into this year, a lot of people doubted whether the Penske team could do well with no other Dodge teams to work with. Busch said the team’s success has been a kind of vindication.

“It’s special to be the only group out there and having success with the odds stacked against you,” he said.
Recalling his win in the 2007 MIS race that was rain-delayed until Tuesday, Busch added: “Anytime you win at Michigan, it’s special; especially for your manufacturer.”

Kyle not laughing at Brad’s joke
If you saw the victory lane interview with Brad Keselowski at Nashville next week, you’ll remember he mentioned the absent Kyle Busch, who had stayed in Pocono to focus on his Cup ride, saying that he couldn’t wait for Kyle to do another Nationwide race so he could beat him for the win.

It was a pretty light-hearted comment in my mind, but apparently Kyle didn’t see the humor. On Friday, when asked about the comment, Kyle said it was: “Brad just running his mouth.”

Busch also mentioned how he couldn’t stand sitting around and watching the Nationwide and Truck races last week. Unfortunately for Kyle, traveling to 3 races in one weekend is just crazy – 2 is hard enough – so he’s wise not to attempt too much and focus on Cup. It’s one thing to want to race. But flying all over the country for days will likely lead to some bad finishes, as Kyle found out a couple years ago.

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