Kurt Busch, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, was on the sideline at practice Tuesday night. The Inside the Bears staff, which has limited knowledge of stock car racing (turn left and floor it, right?), caught up with Busch briefly to find out how in the world a Las Vegas native is rooting for the Bears.
HOW DID YOU GROW UP A BEARS FAN?
I grew up in [Las] Vegas so I didn't have a team to root for. But my family is from the northern suburbs, Schaumburg, Arlington Heights, Rolling Meadows, both sides of the family. My mom [Gayle] and dad [Tom] went to the same high school, Forest View. They grew up in Chicago and I remember coming here when I was five, six years old. I just loved the city. I grew up in Vegas and it was all about gaming and that whole industry. When I came here, this was a real city. A city skyline with big skyscrapers. I fell in love with Chicago.
DID YOU SIT THROUGH THE NIGHT OF DELAYS AT THE CUBS GAME MONDAY NIGHT?
Oh yeah. That was awesome.
HOW IN THE NAME OF HARRY CARAY DID YOU NOT DO THE 7TH INNING STRETCH?
I was just blending in. It was my birthday. We were drinking Old Style and having a good time.
CONGRATULATIONS. HOW OLD ARE YOU?
I'm 30. The big three-oh.
ARE YOU OFF FROM RACING THIS WEEK?
No. We're on our way to Watkins Glen, N.Y. We were able to stop here and I got a birthday wish, they were able to make it all come true. They surprised me with taking me here to Bears' camp today. I thought we were on our way to the airport and taking off. They brought me here.
WHO SET IT UP?
My assistant, and [wife] Eva, and my mom. We're all here. There were 12 of us last night, the rest of the gang, and they all flew out this morning.
WHAT ARE YOUR EXPECTATIONS FOR THIS COMING SEASON?
I'd like to see them go to the playoffs. The theme is we want 12 home games, right? That would give us homefield advantage right through the playoffs if we've got a good record. I'd like to see more confidence come from the quarterback side and I think that putting [Devin] Hester will be fun. You have to love [Brian] Urlacher and this defense and its speed. It's just fun to watch this team.
HOW MANY BEARS GAMES DO YOU MAKE IT TO?
I get to about two a year.
DID YOU GO TO SUPER BOWL XLI?
Oh yeah. I had to go to the Super Bowl. I was actually testing in Vegas and went to the Super Bowl and then flew back that same night of the game to test in California that Monday. Our preseason testing is right at the end of January when all of this was going on.
OK. YOU GOT TO MIAMI FOR A FEW DAYS OF FUN, RIGHT?
No. I came down just the day of the game and then out after the game. I couldn't. I was busy working. We say underneath on awning and we didn't get all wet.
ANY PLANS TO ATTEND A CERTAIN GAME THIS SEASON?
I just got this fancy pen [as he pulls a retractable schedule out of the pen] it's got a schedule in it and we're going to check it out and see what we can do. They play Carolina at Carolina but I'm racing that Sunday. My buddy Matt Kenseth is a huge Green Bay fan, he's from Green Bay, so we always battle it out. That Dec. 21 game is a Monday night game so I think we'll be here for that game.