JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Bristol Motor Speedway and discussed Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski situation, self-policing, the economy and other topics. TALK ABOUT RACING HERE AT BRISTOL THIS WEEKEND:...
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Bristol Motor Speedway and discussed Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski situation, self-policing, the economy and other topics.
TALK ABOUT RACING HERE AT BRISTOL THIS WEEKEND: "First of all, I would like to say something about Jeff Byrd. His absence this week is certainly being felt. He is one of those people that when you come to his race track, it is like coming to his house. He always wants to make you feel like you are welcome, like a guest at his house is honestly how I always felt whenever I talked to Jeff. He has done an incredible job with the fans here and his presence will be missed this weekend. I know he will be back strong in the future and it will be good to have him back."
WHAT DO YOU THINK WILL COME OUT OF THE MEETING ON SATURDAY BETWEEN CARL (EDWARDS) AND BRAD (KESELOWSKI)? "I expect they will come out there understanding that they are not in charge, that NASCAR is and if they continue, NASCAR will remind them in a way they won't soon forget that they are in charge. I think it will be demanded of them to behave in a certain fashion and find a way to work together. Race hard, but work together. I think that will be the gist of the conversation I would imagine. If Mike (Helton) is involved in it, that is how the conversation will go. That is what I will expect. I would also expect them to be able to try and get some things off their chest and NASCAR, I'm sure, will encourage that. I don't think Mike ever minds hearing a good argument, but he'll have the final say."
DO YOU FEEL LIKE EVERYONE WILL BE WATCHED MORE CLOSELY ON SUNDAY? "I don't think it is any different honestly. I think what happened at Atlanta, it wasn't pretty. It was a situation that I think surprised a lot of us. It's not how it should have been handled. At the same time, I don't think it really changes a lot for this weekend. We haven't seen that end result happen in NASCAR, but we have seen the beginning of it happen in NASCAR before. I don't think it really ever changed the way I approached the race and I don't think it will truly change the way anybody else approaches the race."
THE WING WAS INTRODUCED THREE YEARS AGO AT BRISTOL AND NOW IT IS HERE THAT WE WILL SEE THE END OF THE WING, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT IF IT HAD LOOKED GOOD, COULD IT HAVE BEEN MADE TO WORK OR WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS? "I think the majority of the reason the wing is being changed is because of the way it looks. That means I believe the wing could have worked and we've seen that. If you look at the races at the end of last year, the middle part on last year, you look at the racing we have seen this year, all those races that we have had that have been really good have been with the wing. So it doesn't mean we can't be successful with the wing nor does it mean we can't be successful with the spoiler. I think the cars will be good with the spoiler. As I told you guys many times, the biggest improvement in the car has been the tires. We now have tires that make reasonable grip and now the cars drive much better because of the grip the tires make. I believe the car could be successful with the wing because we have seen it be successful with the wing. But in no way do I think it can't be successful with the spoiler."
IS THE SELF-POLICING A REALITY AND WHAT IS THE RESULT? "I'm ok with the sport self-policing, I am ok with that. I think one of the coolest things about our sport is that every lap at every race track, someone could spin somebody out to take the position. The truth of the matter is the reason that doesn't happen is because you know that if you do that; it is going to get done to you. So the sport really self-polices itself anyway. If you go back and look at the number of times people have been penalized for spinning someone out, it is very very small. The percentage of penalties per incident is a pretty small percentage. I don't know what that number is, would be interested to see, but I bet it is in the single digits. I would be shocked if it wasn't in the single digits. That in and of itself means the sport polices itself already. I think, NASCAR, and there has to be, I think Mike said it this winter or what I heard was Mike said to me, there would be a line that we could cross and they'll handle it. And we have to have that. There has to be a limit that we cross and NASCAR steps in and says we are not going to put up with that, that is across the limit and we're not putting up with it. But they can't make every call. You guys have set up in the media centers that are above the race track, it is very difficult to make every single call when you have to determine what a driver's intention is. The drivers know. So I believe the sport is self-policing anyway and I believe that there is a catastrophic, and I am over-using that word, policy and that is when NASCAR steps in. When you have crossed that line, that is when NASCAR steps in, but prior to that, it needs to be left up to us."
HOW TOUGH HAS THE ECONOMY BEEN ON RACING AND IS THIS THE TOUGHEST YOU HAVE SEEN DURING YOUR CAREER? "It is the longest it has been. There was a time, and I don't remember the years, but there was time when we had a tough year when we had the number of cars down and we had number of people in the seats down, but it lasted for a much shorter time than this has lasted. This economy has been the way it is for a period of time now and no one has seen major signs of improvement. There have been small signs of improvement but you had to look really hard to find them. We feel that. It costs money to do this. No matter what part of it you are doing, whether it is what you guys do, what we do, what the fans do, it costs money to do it. Any time that money starts getting looked at hard, when stuff costs money, stuff gets eliminated. People are having to make hard decisions about not coming to the race track. The thing that I feel good about is I think our sport is strong. I think our sport full of competitive people and long-term I feel good about the success we can have. But, anytime we have a situation where we have an economy the way we have now, it is going to be felt."
WHAT IS THE MADDEST YOU HAVE BEEN IN THE CAR? "I've been mad a lot. I don't get as mad as I used to. I've learned to control myself a little bit. I got really mad at Sears Point one time; I wanted to rip Johnny Benson's head off. Problem was, it wasn't Johnny Benson that spun me out. So that was kind of embarrassing. There have been a bunch of times I have been really mad and my emotions got the better of me.
"Being around long enough, I now understand that this is really important and we work really hard at it. When something bad happens, the way you handle it means a lot. Learning from it means a lot and just flipping out about it fixes nothing. It makes nothing better. It is not that I don't care about it, but I think that how I handle it is a lot different."
HOW IMPORTANT IS THE CHARLOTTE TEST GOING TO BE NEXT WEEK TO GET EVERYBODY READY FOR THE SPOILER? "I think we'd be ready if NASCAR told us today without the test. If NASCAR said here, this is what the rules are; we would all go there and be ready. Talladega is probably a track where we need testing the least. The only thing we really need testing there is to understand when a lot of cars get together, what the speed it. That is really the reason to go to Talladega to test. More so that than it is to make the teams smarter or make the teams understand more. It is much more about what is the closure speed, what is the top speed, what is the average speed? All those things are hard to calculate when you get big groups of cars. That is what I think about that."
AS A COMPETITOR, DO YOU THINK NASCAR LOOKS AT HOW POPULAR A DRIVER IS WHEN DECIDING A PENALTY? "I think they take who you are into consideration, but I don't think they take into consideration who you are as in are you popular or are you not popular. I think they take who you are...listen, if Mark Martin spins somebody out, they can look at him and say most likely he didn't mean to do it. But if there is another guy that constantly does it, they have to look at him and say maybe he did mean to do it. So your history and past and you reputation, the same way it does in everyday life. If you are a model citizen and you screw up, you are looked at a little bit differently than a citizen that completely screws up all of the time. I think that it is only fair to have people's history looked out when determining what penalties should be doled out. I think it would be completely unfair to dole out penalties based on people's popularity. That isn't fair. The day that I feel that NASCAR makes decisions based on someone's popularity will be the day I walk in here and tell you that I feel that and will be the day that I walk out of the gate and go find something else to do. If I don't feel like I have a fair shot because I am not as popular as somebody else, then I just need to go do something different."
WAS THE TALLADEGA TEST LAST WEEK THE HIGHEST SPEEDS YOU HAVE EVER GONE IN A STOCK CAR? "Talladega, we had all kinds of different stuff on the car at one point or another. We had tall spoilers, short spoilers, bigger (restrictor) plates...we had a lot of different combinations on so there were some speeds that NASCAR felt were excessive. But I don't think that is necessarily what we are going to see when we go back there to race. I think in the fall race there last year, I was pushing Junior (Dale Earnhardt, Jr) and I think they recorded us a 212 miles an hour and they flipped out because the speed was so high. That was in the race. I don't know plate/blade combination they are going to come up with, I don't know what they are going to do, but they are going to pull that down so we don't see those big speeds just for the sake of keeping cars on the ground I think."
WHAT IS A LESSON YOU WERE "TAUGHT" THAT YOU REMEMBER THE MOST? "Jack Ingram taught me a lesson I will never forget. Although I have to admit that I didn't heed it as well as I should have. I went down there and ran my little mouth and he let me know real quick that wasn't going to be tolerated. NASCAR wasn't involved. NASCAR didn't have anything to do with it. I didn't go running to NASCAR although I wanted to. I wanted to go running to my Momma. He let me know in his own way that my attitude wouldn't be tolerated in that garage. It was something I look at today. It is kind of funny the way it all went down. He doesn't remember it, I asked him about it and he doesn't remember it which says something about it. Because, to me it was a big deal, but to him, he doesn't even remember it. It kind of says something about the way things were, versus the way they are today. He physically, literally picked me up off the race track. I was behind his trailer. He literally had my feet off the ground. His son, I remember the words like it was yesterday, said "Daddy, put Jeff down, he's a good boy". That was like music to my ears man. Put Jeff down. Honestly, it was a good experience for me because here I was, these guys were racing to put food on the table, ok. I never had to worry about where my food was going to come from. My father could afford to feed me. I never had to worry about that. Here's a guy that is making a living putting food on the table doing something I thought was just a hobby. It was an eye-opening experience for me."
WHAT IS 500 LAPS AT BRISTOL LIKE IF YOU HAVE A CAR THAT IS A PIECE OF JUNK? "My perspective of that is you have to understand the situation you are in and it is your responsibility to get 100% out of it. So on the days you do have a car that is not very good, it is really hard and this is one of the places that is the hardest. But this is also one of the places when you don't have a good car; you have the advantage of a small track. At Michigan you can't do anything about it, people are going by you. At Bristol you can do some things as a driver to get the most out of to be a nuisance to people to try and make something happen. That is really how you have to look at it. You have to get over the fact what your car....you have to quit complaining and worrying about what your car won't do and pay attention to what it can do and understand it is part of a big picture. It is one of 26 races and ultimately one of 36 races. But that perspective has to be kept and if you keep that perspective on a bad day, it helps you turn a bad day in to a good day. You have to also shift your goals. So you come in to every race with I'm going to win the race. Where there are some races when you finish 17th and you leave here thinking I drove better than everybody else did today. That is all you can do. You have got to go make more out of less. It turns into a challenge. It turns into what can I do. You can't get mad about it, you can't get emotional about, you just have to pull your boots up and go to work. That is how I try to do it."
-source: gm racing