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Original Issue

Q+A Kurt Busch

The NASCAR Nextel Cup champ spent last week in New York, where he received his trophy--and his $5.3 million check

SI: So what's it like to stay in the presidential suite at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel?

Busch: Probably the best part of the whole week was being able to open that front door and walk into 4,000 square feet. There was a large foyer, a dining area, three bedrooms and three different minibars. It was definitely the place to be after the NASCAR banquet.

SI: How was it being part of a driver parade that cruised from Times Square to the NASCAR offices on Park Avenue?

Busch: They gave us a couple of right-hand turns in that parade route. I thought some of us might get lost.

SI: You have a 1962 John Deere tractor and you keep track of your lap times when you cut the grass on your property outside Charlotte. Why not invite Jeff Gordon or Jimmie Johnson over and challenge them to a tractor race?

Busch: I just bought a John Deere 5420, and it has 80 horsepower. They'll have to bring their best tractors.

SI: If you could be another athlete, who would you be?

Busch: David Beckham, for the stardom and for the chance to get a taste of Europe.

SI: Are great drivers born or made?

Busch: You're born into racing; you have to be made into a champion.

SI: You're brash, and you've said you know you're not as popular as Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Are you growing on people?

Busch: It was a great year, and people saw a different side of me. But I don't compare hardly at all to those gentlemen. To have four years under my belt and a Nextel Cup trophy, hopefully this is a beginning. We're going to have some fun along the road. --Richard Deitsch