JEFF BURTON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Lowe's Motor Speedway and talked about Saturday's race, looking forward to Dover, Michigan and Pocono, David Ragan's progress as a driver and much more. ON ...
JEFF BURTON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Lowe's Motor Speedway and talked about Saturday's race, looking forward to Dover, Michigan and Pocono, David Ragan's progress as a driver and much more.
ON SATURDAY'S RACE. "Well I'm excited about it. It's an honor to be in the race. I'm one of the driver's that's been in it a lot and then went through a period of time in my career where I wasn't in it. That made me recognize the fact that it is special to be in it. I really appreciate the fact that this is an honor to be involved in it. This isn't necessarily my cup of tea. It's not where I excel. You know the 15, 20, 30-lap races aren't typically when I do my best, but I'm excited about this weekend and I think that we're gonna push the buttons a little bit and see if we can't find a way to make something happen."
RCR SEEMS TO BE CARRYING THE BANNER FOR CHEVY THIS YEAR, ONE OF THE TWO DOMINANT TEAMS IN NASCAR. WHAT TO ATTRIBUTE THAT TO? WHAT ARE YOU GUYS DOING AT THE SHOP THAT THE OTHER TEAMS AREN'T DOING? "Well I think that obviously the Hendrick group hasn't done quite as well this year to this point as they did last year. Although, if you look at most races one of their cars has had a chance to win. The 88 has been probably their best car up to this point and they've been very competitive. So we don't feel like we're the lone rangers by any means and certainly Mark (Martin) and Martin (Truex, Jr.) had their chances to win races too. We've worked really hard to be better organized, to try to make every part of our company to be a little bit better and we have to do that some more. We're still not where we need to be, but we're prepared. We've worked real hard. We're a very blue-collar kind of a company. We work very hard, we take pride in that but we've got to find a way to work a little smarter as well."
EVEN THOUGH YOU GUYS ARE SET FINANCIALLY FOR LIFE, IS IT STILL A HUGE DEAL TO GET A CHANCE TO WIN $1,012,975.34 TOMORROW? "Why is it one million, twelve thousand? Where does twelve thousand come, that's what it is? Well, now I'm gonna race hard now. I didn't know that. Twelve thousand extra bucks. How do I say this? I'm a rich Republican, Jena (Fryer) said. As long as you don't raise my taxes I really don't care. That's what Jena said my belief was. "The money is so cool after the fact, I'll be honest with you. You know you're racing for a million dollars here because everybody makes such a big deal about it but you know when I think about winning in the All-Star race, I know you guys don't believe me, but I really think about the legacy that's involved in that and the trophy that's involved in that. You're right, we are financially in a position where it's easier to think like that. If I didn't have any money, you know that money would seem large obviously and it is large, don't get me wrong.
"But at this point in my career I'm much more concerned and really I've always been that way, much more concerned about the history that's involved in winning it, the legacy that's created, the trophy that's yours. Those things really mean more to me than anything else. The money allows us from a company stand-point to do more. If we go win big races, luckily last year we won big races. If you look what Kevin won and you look what we've won, three of the biggest five races of the year money wise and that helped our company. That allowed us to do some things that we otherwise wouldn't have been able to do. So that's kind of how I look at it. Obviously I look at it from a personal standpoint I look at the money, but that's kind of after the fact. That's kind of wow we won this and that is cool, but at this point of my life that doesn't compare to -- if it was ten million dollars, I know you don't believe me, but honestly if it was ten million dollars I still look at the trophy and the legacy that's created more than the money. I know Jena doesn't believe me but it's true. Cause that's how much money I have she said.
"You know the old saying that, and I'm not trying to be geeky here, money doesn't buy happiness. Obviously I rather be poor and disappointed, or rather be rich and not happy than poor and unhappy but the reality of it is that being exposed to money the way I've been exposed to money and fortunate enough to be, I'm not happier because of that. I'm really not. Don't get me wrong it allows me to do things that I otherwise wouldn't do, but when you sit back and you think about what really makes you happy, it's not being able to buy an airplane, it's not being able to buy a motor home, it's not being able to buy a big house, it's really not. When you're buying them you think it is, but once you have it for a year or so you realize that's really not what makes you happy and I know that I sound like, but it's true. I mean that's honestly the truth. It creates security for your children, it creates security for the other members of your family and there's a tremendous amount of comfort in that, there's no question. Money doesn't buy you the things that make your life fulfilling. I can honestly tell you that. If it does, you're probably not living the way you probably could. I'm not trying to preach but that's just how it is." "I'm glad I came today. I've learned something today."
ON THE THREE-RACE STRETCH FOLLOWING CHARLOTTE -- DOVER, MICHIGAN AND POCONO. "To be honest I haven't gotten there yet. I didn't know what was happening in Dover to be perfectly honest with you until you just said it. We really break the year down in segments and we're in the midst of what I call their spring segment that goes into the summer break. The one-week break. And all those races to me are clumped together and then we just take them one race at a time. This is the grind part of the year, that's what I call it. It's the grind. It's the time where you got to grind things out. It's starting to get hot. You got a long way from a break; you got a lot of testing. You're racing to get in the Chase, which allows you to win the championship. The second long part of the year, is you are either in the Chase or you're not. If you're in the Chase, that allows you to focus on trying to win the championship. This is the grind portion of the year and I think it's the hardest portion of the year because you got to keep in mind of what the goal is. Its months away, but we take one race at a time."
YOU MENTIONED EARLIER THAT 20, 25-LAP RUNS TYPICALLY AREN'T YOUR STRENGTH. IS THAT YOU AS A DRIVER OR IS THAT CAR SET-UP? IF ITS YOU AS A DRIVER, HAVE YOU EVER THOUGHT I'M GONNA GO OUT HERE AND DRIVE DIFFERENT THAN I'VE EVER DRIVEN, SEE HOW IT WORKS? "If I just go back and look at my entire career, even racing late models, I've won my most races on 100, 150, 200-lap races than I did 50 and 75-lap races. I'm more of a thinking racer than I am a gas pedal and steering wheel racer. So these type of weekends simply just don't work for me as well. I have tried to get out of character for the right opportunity and typically you don't have success with that. Now if you drop the green with 15 to go at the end of a 500-mile race, I'm ready for that. I'm good with that. I'm just a rhythm guy. I get into a rhythm, that's my strength. It's hard to get into a rhythm in this kind of an event. I don't think it's so much just about speed, it's just the rhythm that I get into. It's the best way I know how to describe it. I can tell you that much of the attitude that this is a special weekend and the only thing that matters is winning, I'm definitely of that mindset."
ON HOW HE WOULD WAY IN ON THE PROGRESS OF DAVID RAGAN THIS YEAR FROM LAST SEASON. "David got beat up really badly his first race in Martinsville a few years ago, but honestly he's come in and I think he's learned quickly. There's been some races this year I thought he had the fastest car and for one reason or another they didn't have the track position when they needed it. David's done a nice job of maturing, of getting a lot out of his race car. He's got a great opportunity of working with Jimmy Fenning to help his learning curve. I've been really impressed. The Tony Stewart's, the Jeff Gordon's those guys have come in like a ball of fire, you kind of know where they are or what they can do. A guy that doesn't come in with that amount of immediate success it's hard to judge and I think David's proven this year that he can do it at this level. He still has to grow. He reminds me a lot of me to be perfectly honest. You know he didn't come in with just blunt force but he can get it done and he's been willing to learn. You can see the amount the incidences he's been this year, the speed that he's had this year are much, much "I believe coming into the year we had some areas to improve in and those areas are still there. I believe we can get there, I really do. I believe that our team is capable of turning the wick up and when the time is right I believe that we're capable of getting our business done. But what we do between now and that opportunity is what's gonna matter. We still have to get in the Chase, that's number one goal. That's the first thing we have to do. If we're able to do that I believe at that point of the year is when we're gonna be our strongest. We put specific plans together to hopefully be the best and continue to improve throughout the year, because that's what we didn't do well enough last year and I think we learned some lessons from that and I believe we're gonna be able to do that, I really do."
-credit: gm racing