Tuesday, June 12, 2012

James Finch talks about retaining driver Kurt Busch

   Phoenix Racing owner James Finch was on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Tuesday night with hosts Buddy Baker and Jim Noble talking about his meeting with driver Kurt Busch.

   James Finch:
   "I said, 'Kurt, we've wrecked 14 cars. You know, you didn't wreck the 14 cars. You were driving them but we did this as a team.' I said, 'We've got to get better at what we're doing and you've got to get better at what you're doing. And we're only going to talk about it here for just a little while and then it's going to be results. I believe in this kid. He's got the talent. I mean, the kid was the champion at 25 years old or whatever. He's got the talent. He's got some issues that he says he's going to get squared away, and that's what we're gonna do and hopefully he does that. And if he doesn't, then I've got to move on. But right now, we're going forward with him straightening out and doing what he needs to do. And let's get it done."

    Host/Jim Noble: "In order to move forward were there things you had to hear from Kurt today?"
   Finch: "Yes. You know, I told him, 'Everybody's got to take care of their day job. You should be tickled to death at the job you've got. You race on the weekend, you make good money and you look back in the back of the shop, and a guy back there works all year for what you make in a weekend. He seems to be happy. So I don't know why you're not happy, and if you're not happy, you need to get happy. Because that's life and life's going to go on. And we're going forward and we're going forward today after we get out of this meeting. I said, 'I don't care if you've got an argument with a driver out there but these fans and this media [are] going to have some respect from us.' And we're going to go forward and he agreed to that."

   Click here to catch up on why Busch's job may have been in jeopardy.

NASCAR drivers' take on the "new" new Bristol

   Tony Stewart, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton took part in a Goodyear tire test on Tuesday at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. They are the first NASCAR drivers to make runs on the track since track owner Bruton Smith made changes to the surface in hopes of bringing back more close-knit racing.

   Tony Stewart (who is the only driver to try to run the high groove):
   “Well, you’ve definitely lost the top groove. Guys who run up there aren’t going to be able to do that because it’s pretty slick up there. There’s going to be less room to race, that’s for sure. We’ve gone from a three-groove track to two grooves and any time you’ve got less room to get around it can get pretty interesting.

   “I’m one of the guys who likes that high groove so it’s really going to change things up for me. It’ll change things for everybody though because when you take away room to race on a track this small with 43 cars… yeah, it’s going to tighten things up.”

   Clint Bowyer:
   “That outside line – the upper groove – is out of play now. There’s going to be a lot closer racing then we’ve had here in the past. I don’t typically run up there but a lot of guys do and I can’t see them going up there now. If they do… it’s pretty slippery and they’ll figure that out in a hurry.

   “The closer we have to race just means something’s going to happen. Is it going to make fans happy? Well, narrowing up the track means less room to get around so there’s no question there’s going to be closer action.

   “I tell you what though… this place has always been – and will always be – far and away the best race we have. You wanna see a great race in the best atmosphere we have? Just be here in August. “

   Jeff Burton:
   “Goodyear is looking to bring a tire with more grip. I really think they have found some stuff that is really promising. As for the track itself, I really can’t imagine running up there in that top groove. I think it is going to force everyone more to the middle and bottom of the track. The drivers aren’t going to be happy, but the spectators probably will be because it is going to put more cars in a closer space.

   "By taking away that groove, it is going to change your mind about going up there. I think it is going to be two grooves, unless Goodyear brings a tire with a lot of grip. If that is the case, you’ll want to run around the bottom. Making the groove smaller is a good thing, it is going to put the action back to the bottom and middle of the track. What has changed is up near the wall, the bottom is the same. Tony experimented and tried out that top groove, and I know he won’t be trying that again.

   "If people liked the older track more than the new, they are going to like this. This takes the top groove out and brings it back toward the old track. Taking the groove out moves the track closer to what it used to be. Taking the banking out is what is going to make the difference. You won’t run the top groove on a short track without more banking. There is no way you will run around the outside. If there is less banking on a short track near the wall, you are not going to go there.

   "Every race track should look at the fan experience. The fans come to see action here because this is Bristol. That is why there are so many seats. This is why it is like a gladiator stadium. We always will walk a tight rope of what is in the best interest of the fan. The sport is under more scrutiny all the time. For us, it is a more constant conversation about changing. Some races are better than others. Some are phenomenal, some are sleepers. But all sports are like that. Not every NBA game is great.

   "This track always has been different. Fans always want to see action here. That is why pressure is always put on this track."