Bank of America 500 Post-Race Transcript An interview with: JEFF BURTON SCOTT MILLER RICHARD CHILDRESS KERRY THARP: We will roll into our post race press conference, our winning driver, Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 AT&T Mobility ...
Bank of America 500 Post-Race Transcript
An interview with:
KERRY THARP: We will roll into our post race press conference, our winning driver, Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet. Jeff, your thoughts on this victory here tonight.
JEFF BURTON: Well, obviously it's a big night for us. Scott Miller did a great job, made that call there at the end. That's what won the race. More importantly, they got the car, the last two runs, the best it was all night. We went up and passed Biffle for the lead, and never gave it back.
Came on pit road, the guys did a great job with fuel. We picked up spots on pit road pretty much all night tonight. Had the car right at the right time. It all worked out for us.
We're real, real happy with that. Again, Scott made just a great call. I'm sure everybody was questioning it. Hell, I was questioning it. I was thinking, I don't know if this will work or not (laughter). But it did. You know, it was a great call.
KERRY THARP: Scott, you did make some good calls out there tonight, some gutsy calls. Talk about them.
SCOTT MILLER: Well, it wasn't without a lot of research. That has actually worked at this race for some other teams, most notably the one that finished second. So if we hadn't have done it, they would likely have pulled off that same thing again.
You just go back and look at the history of these races, what's worked for people down the stretch. You know, fortunately our car liked that set of tires that it had on it. It seemed like it was about as happy as it had been all night. So that gave us the option to do that. Had we had a set of tires on for that short run that wasn't really what the car wanted, then we wouldn't have had that option. But fortunately we had the right tires on at the right time, track conditions were right, made the right call. That's what it takes to win these races today with the competitiveness throughout the field.
KERRY THARP: We'll start with questions.
Q: Scott, do you have any idea how much was left? I know you were worried about a 'green white checkered'. You cut it a hair close there, you said?
SCOTT MILLER: Yeah, I think I got a little bit anxious trying to get him out of the box, not lose the lead there. The numbers showed, you know, we had enough to make it with the laps we had remaining.
But I would have been really nervous on a 'green white checkered' deal. I was trying to give ourselves that flexibility. But I got a little quick on the trigger there sending him.
I won't know how much it actually took till I get back over to the garage.
Q: Jeff, in Victory Lane you were saying all the other guys have a tremendous amount to lose, you have nothing to lose. Two years ago you left here with the points lead, then obviously whatever happened at Martinsville happened. Are you almost maybe in better position now than you were two years ago, being the hunter instead of the hunted?
JEFF BURTON: I'd rather have the lead. The only reason you wouldn't want the lead is because you're messing yourself up in your head. If somebody give us a hundred points a day, I'd take 'em. Having a hundred points ain't going to make us run poorly at Martinsville. That's not going to determine our level of success. We're going to do that.
There's going to be some things that happen to every team that you can't control. But the things that we can control, we set that destiny, not the points that we have.
So, you know, we've come into this things very relaxed, committed to having a good time, committed to having fun. We may have gotten a little too tight the first year because, you know, we never done it before. I didn't think we were last year, but we got off to a slow start. This year we just said, You know what, we're going to go, have a good time, race hard, we're going to do the best we can, and it will be what it will be.
I truly believe that those guys that won all the races and were the guys that everybody picked, you know, those teams are in the position anything less than a championship and their year's not going to be successful, it's just that simple. We're not in that case. Our deal is we're just going to go have fun. Nobody's picked us. You know, I don't blame them. You should have picked Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards. You still should. Why wouldn't you?
We're just having fun. We're paying attention to us. We're not going to get caught up in the point thing. We're paying attention to it, but we're not going to get caught up in it. If we don't win the championship, our year's not a failure. We weren't one of the teams that set the bar up there. We're just laying it out there, having a good time.
Whatever happens, we look at each other at the end of the race, we all know we put a lot of effort into it. If we don't do well, we'll go back and try to do better next time. That's how we're going to approach it. That's how we've done it up to this point. That's how we're going to do it till the end of it.
Q: Jeff, in Victory Lane you said you were hanging it out. As one of the older drivers, how do you enjoy being able to hang it out, to go for wins?
JEFF BURTON: No one's ever proven to me why you can't do at 41 what you could do at 23. If you convince yourself you can't, then you can't. Mark Martin in a (indiscernible) and see what that 21 year old thinks when he gets back out of it. It is what it is.
We're lucky to be in a sport that you can be successful in your 40s. You know, you can convince yourself you're too old to do it. Trust me, a lot of people will try to convince you you're too old to do it. But with age comes a lot of advantages, too. And we'll try to take those advantages every chance we get.
KERRY THARP: We'll take some comments from team owner Richard Childress. Richard, have to feel good about this victory tonight?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: It was a great run. I stayed up at the condo and watched it there because I was a little under the weather.
Jeff, he just kept digging and digging. That race team just kept making the car a little better, a little better. When the time came, Scott made a great call at the end to take nothing but fuel.
It's just a great night. It was one of the things, to win a championship you've got to win races. So I'm proud of these guys, everything they did, that whole race team.
JEFF BURTON: Scott's not that young either, by the way. He's a helluva lot older than I am (laughter).
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Someone asked me a while ago about age, why I pick drivers not in their golden years but in their good years, I call 'em. But Dale Earnhardt in 2000, we finished second. I think he was 49, 48. We were going to win the championship the following year.
So age, like Jeff said, is just only in your mind. If you take care of your body like Jeff does physically, your mind will be good.
KERRY THARP: We'll continue with questions.
Q: Jeff, we've written about four or five times this year about who's peaking. You have run strong in the Chase, you pop through and win. Do you sense your team peaking a little bit now? When you were going at it with the 48, with the 9 coming after you, were you prepared to do what you had to do? Would maybe the never rough driving Jeff Burton have done what he had to do in those situations?
JEFF BURTON: I don't change the way I drive because of the situation I'm in. I'm going to drive hard, but I'm going to race clean. That's what I'm gonna do. I've tried to stick with that my whole life. I'm not going to intentionally change it now.
So, you know, I was prepared to do what I had to do to win the race and drive as hard as I could drive. But I'm not prepared to lay a fender to somebody and knock 'em out to win the race. By the way, doing that means that they probably won't do that to you, too. So, you know, it was a two way street.
I've won plenty of races because I had that consideration returned to me. You know, tonight, Jimmie was on the inside of me. He could have easily I could have easily got pointed in the wrong direction. You know, that's how I try to race. I make mistakes. But I try to race like that.
You know, as far as peaking, you guys have heard me say this before, you know, momentum I think is a highly overused word. Momentum doesn't create success. Success creates momentum. It's the other way around. You know, a lot of people think there's this magical swirling ball above their head. If it's swirling in the right direction, they're going to win races. It doesn't work like that.
A good effort, dedication, skill level, all those things are what make you win races, and doing that at the right time. People that have momentum have momentum because they're doing a good job. They don't have momentum because, you know, the great ball above their head says, Okay, now you can win. You create that. It doesn't just happen.
Q: Jeff, the last two years Jimmie said it's been consistency, wins, top fives. Tonight you showed that if you gamble and win you can also challenge the guy who is No. 1. For the last five races, is gambling for yourself or other drivers going to be a major factor that we may not have seen the last couple years?
JEFF BURTON: No, we're going to race like we've always raced. We're going to make the calls that are smart. Scott did a great job tonight. He did research and made a decision based on what he believed was the right thing to do to win the race. I guess you can call that gambling. I don't know. To me gambling is doing something where you have no idea what the end result's going to be. That's not Scott's personality. That's not my personality. That's a little bit of his personality (smiling).
But, you know, Scott and I are very conservative in the way we work together. Our gambling is probably a different level than some other people's.
Q: Would you elaborate a little bit more, you said you were concerned when Scott made the call. You weren't sure it would work?
JEFF BURTON: Well, if we would have put four on, I wouldn't have been sure that would have worked either (laughter).
You know, these races are funny, man. Everybody tonight, when they made the last stop, thought they were doing the right thing. You know, nobody did something they thought was wrong. They all definitely thought it was the right thing to do. You don't know what the result's going to be.
If we put four on, I'd have been really nervous because we were never good on four tires. We were never good on new tires. I would have been really nervous about that. I thought we were going to put two on is what I thought was going to be happen. To be perfectly honest, we hadn't had two on all night long. Who knows what would have happen.
At the end of the days, doing none, as silly as that sounds, may have been the least gamble of all. I don't think about those calls. That's this man's job. I drive the racecar and tell him what it's doing, what it's not doing. They make those calls. I don't get in the way of it.
Q: Jeff, real simple: how important was clean air?
JEFF BURTON: It's really big. I mean, it's important for everybody. I mean, you could see whoever got out front, you know, they ran the best. Being at the back of the pack's really difficult. It's real hard to pass back there. It's really weird. In the old cars, you'd get tight behind people. These cars you actually get loose behind them. I do. I get looser behind people than I do kind of crazy, I get loose behind people.
We want clean air every chance we get. But a slow car in clean air is still not going to win the race. The reason we won the race tonight is because Scott did a great job of getting the car fast. Before we did no tires, we went up there and we passed the leader for the lead. We took the lead, came on pit road with the lead, left pit road with the lead, and obviously won the race.
All that hinges on is having a fast racecar. It wasn't a 10 lap dash to the end, 30 laps or whatever. It was quite a bit of racing.
Q: Jeff, at any point when Jimmie was alongside of you, did you just kind of have the feeling his car didn't have it to get by you at that point? I know you're focused on what you guys do, but it seems like the 48 hasn't had its Mulligan yet where everybody else in the Chase has. Is that still yet to come for them?
JEFF BURTON: Well, I'd have to put us in that category, too. I mean, honestly, Clint, the 48, the 31 are probably the three teams that haven't had the bad day yet. So, you know, we've had some good fortune, too. We certainly can't argue about that. We've had good fortune.
So what I thought was going on with the 48 is he was too loose underneath me. I thought he'd keep running and get tighter, get tightened back up, be able to make a run back at me again. I kind of found that middle groove. I don't know if he got slower, but we actually got faster as the run went on. We started going faster. But I thought he would make another run at us.
Q: Jeff, you said that you're more relaxed this time than you were in '06 when you were leading. What was '06 like for you? Of your whole career, do you feel that's the year that it slipped away more than any other year?
JEFF BURTON: No, not really. There's been a couple years. That's certainly one of them. That's one of the three years that I thought I really had an honest shot to win a championship, and didn't get it done.
I don't know. I mean, there was a lot going on that year. It was our first year in the Chase. We had worked really hard. It was Scott's first year, our first year together. It was my second year at Childress. We had been through a lot of changes, a lot of stuff going on at the shop, trying to make things better. Being a small part of Richard Childress Racing, we had both teams in the Chase. Just a lot going on, you know what I mean? It was kind of like our first shot at it.
It had been a while since I had been in the mix. So we were getting accustomed to all that again. As relaxed as we wanted to be, you know, I wasn't as relaxed as I thought I could be. You know what I mean? I was saying all the right things, I was doing all the right things, I thought. But at the end of the day, I was still kind of tensed up about it.
So lesson learned and we won't do that again.
Q: The other two years?
JEFF BURTON: The other two years were years at Roush. One we finished third. On the last lap of the last race of the year, Earnhardt passing people, got by 'em, put us to third instead of second. Whatever year that was. Then there was one year, I don't even remember the year, but there was one year that, I don't know, we just broke a lot of motors, had a lot of mechanical problems. We won a bunch of races. We had consistently the fastest car, but we didn't have the reliability to get it done.
So those two years in particular stand out.
Continued in part 2