Bristol: Burton - Friday media visit

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS IMPALA SS TALKED WITH MEDIA ABOUT THE NEW IMPALA SS RACE CAR ON SAFETY OF THE NEW GENERATION OF NASCAR NEXTEL CUP CARS: With the Hans device, the soft walls and the better head restraints we have in our...

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS IMPALA SS TALKED WITH MEDIA ABOUT THE NEW IMPALA SS RACE CAR

ON SAFETY OF THE NEW GENERATION OF NASCAR NEXTEL CUP CARS: With the Hans device, the soft walls and the better head restraints we have in our cars, there's been a lot of great work that's been done. But safety isn't a goal, it's a trip. You're on it every day.

"Without people being hurt we'd be thinking we were doing good enough and that's one of the things we have to guard against in the future. It's real easy to look around and say look how good we are, look how great we are. It's real easy to convince yourself that you've done enough. But we weren't good enough, we weren't doing enough to move the bar. We were doing enough to get by for a little while, but as we improved in some areas, that made other areas go down. It's not acceptable that we have to be constantly trying to move the bar when we weren't doing it. And when I say we, I don't mean just NASCAR I mean all of us, it takes the teams, it takes the drivers, it takes the manufacturers, it takes everyone. NASCAR is taking the lead in the last three years but it doesn't rest solely on their shoulders. I don't think they're responsible for my safety - I think I'm responsible for my safety.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE IMPALA BRAND COMING BACK TO NASCAR? I think it's really cool. When you think about how long it is since Impala has run it's really neat to have it back. People don't think that the Impala has much history in racing but it does. And it's cool to have it back.

IT'S SAID THAT TEAMS AND DRIVERS HAVE TO BE OPEN-MINDED WITH THE NEW CAR. HOW CHALLENGING IS IT. HOW EASY IS IT TO GET IT GOING FAST? It's really easy when things are going well. I've always said the hardest thing about this business is to know when to do something different. When things are going well it's much harder to do something different. You want to hang on to what you've got, you want to improve on what you've got. You can't do that with this car. Things that worked on our other car don't apply here. It's not only an open mind it's like we're running a whole other season. That's how I view this. It's a new car season now and that's not to say that we can drop our other car (the Monte Carlo SS) and get by if we don't get better because we won't. There's a new car season and there's a today car season."

APART FROM QUALIFYING YOU'VE GOT TOMORROW. WHAT CAN YOU LEARN AHEAD OF THE RACE ITSELF? We've been testing here - we've been testing a lot all season. You know we build to theories. And the only way to test those theories is to try more stuff. The only way to try more stuff is to have more track time. But there's never enough track time - especially in this situation. There are a lot of questions. There are a lot of questions from a speed point of view. What do we need to go fast? Then there are a lot of other questions, the what-ifs. What if you get into the back of another car, what happens? We still don't know how these cars are going to cool yet. You think about when you come to Bristol having people overheat because the cars get all bunched up. There can be a lot of overheating issues. We have no idea how these car are even going to cool. There are a lot of things like that that we have huge questions about. We'll be a lot wiser Sunday night.

THE CARS ARE A WHOLE LOT WIDER. DOES THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE? I really haven't noticed it. But you do need to give another foot to the guy that's on the outside of you. You almost have to give him another foot to make sure you don't squeeze him into the wall when you get underneath him. So I think that that potentially is an issue. I mean how often do we come off a corner and we've got our quarter-panel or whatever right up against a guy's door and he's right up against the wall. Another eight inches puts him right in the wall.

-credit: gm racing

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup