All-Star: Jeff Burton - Friday media visit

Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Monte Carlo SS, Met With Members Of The Media At Lowe's Motor Speedway And Discussed The Penalties Handed To The No. 8 Team, The Mental Transition Between The All-Star Race And The Coca Cola 600, On The Role A...

Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Monte Carlo SS, Met With Members Of The Media At Lowe's Motor Speedway And Discussed The Penalties Handed To The No. 8 Team, The Mental Transition Between The All-Star Race And The Coca Cola 600, On The Role A Driver Plays With Team Leadership And Other Topics.

ON IF ANY DRIVERS ARE SAYING THE ALL-STAR RACING ISN'T SO GREAT FOR THEIR TEAM SINCE A LOT LEAVE WITH WRECKED RACE CARS: "Well this race can set you back, I mean, if you bring your best equipment here, which is what we all do, and you loose it, then you have lost something that is a resource that you need to be earning points with. It potentially can have a negative effect, but this is an important event too. It is important for us to come out from an ego standpoint and from a team moral standpoint, it is important for us to come out here and compete at a high level. It is a fun race. It's a real exciting race. A lot of energy, a lot of excitement. You just go lay it out there and see what you can get done. I still think you have got to be smart. I don't think you just throw caution to the wind and not worry about what happens, I think you still have to drive smart, but certainly more aggressive than normal."

IF YOU ARE NOT LEADING THE RACE DOES THAT MAKE YOU ALL THE MORE CAUTIOUS?: "I think that the guys that feel like they have a chance to win certainly are more aggressive than the guys racing for 10th. The race for 10th isn't going to be as hard fought as it would be on a normal Sunday, but the race for the lead may be more hard fought."

ON THE PENALITIES HANDED TO THE NO. 8 TEAM: "Yeah, it was severe and it should be severe. Nothing against DEI or anybody else, right now with The Car of Tomorrow, what NASCAR is trying to do, severe penalties are what will keep us in line. It is real important to start the thing off on the right foot. It will make everybody dot their I's and cross their T's. I hate to see any team get penalized, but as much as NASCAR warned us about making sure we do everything the way they want us to do it we have to make sure we do, and they send a strong message to every team out there that we need to be doing that."

THE TRANSITION FROM THIS RACE TO THE LONGEST RACE NEXT WEEK, HOW DOES THAT AFFECT YOURSELF AND YOUR TEAM'S MINDSET? "Well this is a much more relaxed weekend. We come here this weekend to have fun. It's kind of like going racing with no points and going out to have a good time. Next weekend is much more serious, it's much more businesslike. That is the way that I approach it. This is kind of like an off weekend. We come out here to do what we love to do, which is race, but without all the pressure that racing for points has."

ON WHETHER OR NOT THE PENALTIES HANDED TO DEI WERE FAIR: "I think they were fair. Obviously, I don't have all of the specifics, but I do agree with stiff penalties. I think that stiff penalties, especially if taking points away is a way to get all of the teams' attention. We all know, especially with The Car of Tomorrow, what NASCAR's agenda is with making the cars more alike, and they have been very clear about making sure that we abide by the rules. I hate to see any team get penalized, because the majority of the team had nothing to do with the reason the penalty was there, but they all get penalized and I hate to see that. At the same time, it's got everybody's attention."

ON INCREASE OF NO.8 MERCHANDISE SALES OF 110 PERCENT SINCE DALE EARNHARDT, JR. DECIDED TO LEAVE DEI: "Dale's decision to leave DEI is separate of anything else. We can try to pull all of those things together if we want to but the reality of it is, Dale's decision to leave is only, that is all there is, it is out there by itself. How NASCAR makes rules and judgments has nothing to do at all with that."

ON THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF DEI AND RCR MERGING ENGINE PROGRAMS: "I am really excited about it. I think that one of the things that it allows us to do is to put a lot more resources into our engine department. If you look at where Hendrick is, you look at where Roush, Yates are, they have a huge percentage of the field. They have a lot more money, a lot more resources to deal with. This puts us in that same ball park. I think that certainly is a step in the right direction. I am excited about it. It's a whole lot of work ahead of them, it's a whole lot of stuff that has got to change in order to make all of this happen but I think that the concept is really good."

DO YOU SEE THAT AS A DETRIMENT OR A DETERRENT FOR JUNIOR TO COME OVER TO RCR? "If it's a deterrent for Junior to come to RCR, because Richard is doing what's right for his company, then Richard can't worry about that. Richard has got to do what he has got to do to make sure that his cars compete at a high level and if that doesn't suit somebody or a particular person's best interest, then Richard can't worry about that. He has got to do what is in the team's best interest. Not one person can drive his ship, except Richard. Richard needs to drive his ship where he thinks it needs to go. If anybody that would be looking to come to RCR views that as a detriment, then that's okay. Richard is doing what he thinks is right, and that is what he should do."

ON BILL BRODERICK'S INVENTION OF THE HAT DANCE: "Well I am not that old. I don't know how it all got started, but Bill was certainly the guy that was always in the middle of it. He had an unmistakable look. It was pretty hard to miss Bill. When he was there, in victory lane, you couldn't miss him. He made it famous, for sure. Honestly, it is kind of part of tradition now. It is fun to do. It is neat to see all of the sponsors that are involved in the sport and take pictures with different people in victory lane. It's kind of fun to be honest."

WHAT DO YOU DO WITH ALL OF YOUR HATS?  "They take them from me, I never
get them.  They always think that I am not a hat guy, so I don't really
care.  They always take them back."

TONIGHT IS DIFFERENT THAN ANYTHING ELSE YOU GUYS DO. HOW EXCITING IS IT TO SWITCH THINGS UP? "It's fun. It's neat to do something different. It is a little nerve racking at the same time, because it is different."

ON HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS' DOMINATION: "They deserve a tremendous amount of praise and respect. I look at what they have done with great admiration. As much as I want to beat them, as much as I want to compete against them, I also respect what they have been able to do. It is our job to it better than they are doing, and we have not done that. We have done it at times, but we have not done it as much as they have done it. So, we have got to find a way to get better. I don't hold that against them. They deserve whatever praise they get."

ON THE ROLE THAT A DRIVER HAS IN TEAM LEADERSHIP: "It is different for every team. There is no stereotypical way for a driver to be a leader. Every driver has got to do what he thinks is in his team's best interest. That could be anything, it just depends. My group is a group that doesn't need a lot of love and attention. They understand that I am busy. I understand that they are busy. My group is very professional and they understand. With my group it is easy. I come in and work as hard as I can. They know that I give 100 percent, I know that they give 100 percent and we have respect for each other."

ON MAINTAINING BALANCE BETWEEN BEING A DRIVER AND A TEAM LEADER: "I think the young drivers come in and they want to be friends with everybody. They want to spend all their time with the team. (INAUDIBLE) . because that's how you did it before you got here. You would all work together till late at night. You were all together all the time. As you are in this sport and you have some success, your time starts to be pulled away and you are not able to spend as much time with them as you used to be able to. There is an adjustment there. There has to be professional respect, there has to be friendly respect...(INAUDIBLE) . and the guys on the team have as much to do with that as the driver. I have had guys on the team that resent that I have come to the race track, they get here at seven in the morning and I walk in at 10 in the morning, they are here till six at night and I walk out at quarter after noon. I have had some people that resent that. It is important for the team to understand what the driver's role is as well. Understand that we may not be at the shop on a Tuesday at two o'clock, but we're in Topeka, Kansas doing something on Tuesday at two o'clock. I think the more experienced crew members understand that, and the guys that have been around a lot, understand that. The drivers have to understand how many hours the crew guys are working and have a lot of respect and understanding for that. It takes both parties for it to work." Contacts:

ON EXPRESSING ISSUES WITH THE CREW PUBLICLY: "I don't agree with expressing it publicly. When we talk about our car not handling well or having problems, I don't agree with doing in the public to try to fix the problem. I think the fans deserve to know what is going on, but I don't think that you fix your problems like that. And by the way, the driver doesn't have a good day everyday either. And when your team hasn't had a good day, you want them to treat you the same way you want to be respected and treated when you don't have a good day. It is important to understand that not everybody is going to be on the top of their game everyday. Honesty is paramount. We don't have time not to be honest. We have to be honest with each other, we have to be able to tell each other, right then, right now, what we expect. If we can't do that, we can't be successful."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton