Charlotte II: Winning team press conference, part 2

Continued from part 1 Q: Scott, being such a big fan of this Car of Tomorrow, there was some talk about this being sort of a next generation or a new kind of chassis, some stuff you have done lighter. How much work went into this car? Was it...

Continued from part 1

Q: Scott, being such a big fan of this Car of Tomorrow, there was some talk about this being sort of a next generation or a new kind of chassis, some stuff you have done lighter. How much work went into this car? Was it a car you worked specifically on for this race?

SCOTT MILLER: Well, not specifically for this race, per se. Every time we build another car, we just try to do a better job at it. I mean, that's how you improve your product, is just evaluate everything you're doing and just do all those little things that you can do to build a better mousetrap, so to speak, just trying to make things any piece that goes on the car you can make a little bit lighter to help the CG, all the other technical aspects of the car, every time we build a new one we try to do a little bit better job at all that fine detail work.

This car tonight, it was its first race. First run on the track was the other night here at the test. So, you know, it's worked out pretty good. Hopefully it will serve us well a couple more times down the stretch here.

Q: Jeff, on Thursday you noted Jimmie Johnson's two best racetracks were this one and Martinsville. The strategy would be that you had to beat him, make him earn it. You did that exactly that tonight. Does it mean more to do it that way, to beat a guy dominating here? Can you do it again at Martinsville?

JEFF BURTON: Let's enjoy this one first (laughter).

They've been incredible at Martinsville. I mean, Hendrick in general, between Jeff and Jimmie, they've been I mean, give them the clock. It seems like they've been unbelievably fast.

It is rewarding. We didn't come here to race Jimmie Johnson. We came here to try to beat 42 other guys. Jimmie Johnson and that team are the point leaders, and they certainly set the bar pretty high. But we didn't come here to focus on them. We didn't come here to focus on the 18 or anybody. We just focus on us.

We understand that we've got to beat them. But the only way we can beat them is for us to pay attention what we're doing. You know, it's really rewarding when you can do that because these don't happen a whole lot.

So it is rewarding because they've done a great job. But it's more rewarding internally for what we've accomplished rather than the feeling we get for knocking them off their perch.

Q: Scott, Jeff Burton last night in the Nationwide race decided to take four tires. You found he wasn't able to get back through the pack in time. Did that enter in your decision?

SCOTT MILLER: I mean, a little bit I would say. But mostly just history, you know, here at this track, on mile and a half's in general. The strategy that we did tonight has worked for others. Like I said, the car was happy on that set of tires. So it made sense to play it that way, leave a set of tires on that the car seemed to be happy with there at the end.

Q: Scott, you and Greg Biffle were the only two cars that ran in the top 10 for the entire race. How did you keep the car ahead of the pack that much and how many changes did you have to make throughout the night to be able to stay on top of it that well?

SCOTT MILLER: We didn't have to make big adjustments tonight fortunately. We started off a little bit on the tight side. We got it free there in the middle of the race. We were really just working with air pressure and stagger in the tires.

Fortunately the track conditions came to what our racecar liked there toward the end of the event. We've been on the other side of that at times where we've been pretty good early and haven't been able to put the pieces together at the end when it's time to win. So fortunately tonight the shoe was on the other foot and we were good when we needed to be good.

Q: Jeff, this will be your first multiple win season since 2001. When you look back, do you think you've had more opportunities to be in Victory Lane this season compared to others or did you have as many other opportunities in recent seasons?

JEFF BURTON: You have to excuse me, I have to think about that a minute. I don't remember earlier in the year feeling like one got away from us. I mean, I don't think so. We hadn't been a team that's led a tremendous amount of laps. I feel like when we've had the opportunity, we've pretty much been able to take advantage of it.

What our anxiety has been about is not having enough opportunities, 'cause you're going to not succeed more than you do. We've been working hard to try to give ourselves more opportunities. But the opportunity's presented itself a couple times, maybe three or four times this year, and we've done it twice. So I think we've done a good job of executing.

Q: Richard, how do you handle Jeff's success and the other two guys in the Chase, keeping them all together going into Martinsville and the rest of the season?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: I'm a fortunate owner to have three drivers that work so close together and work good together. They're as happy for Jeff as I am tonight because, sure, they would have wanted to win. But we can all talk about things and talk through it. So I think they're happy, too.

Q: Jeff, you're 69 back, Biffle is 86 back. Nobody else is in a position to lead. As this thing gets deeper, there are fewer guys at the front, how much easier does it make you having to race two or three guys for a championship versus five or eight or ten?

JEFF BURTON: I guess it makes it easier. Obviously it's less people to race. But they're not going to race you any less hard. You know what I mean? Matt Kenseth obviously has had some bad luck, but he's not gonna go to Martinsville and not try to win because he's not in the Chase. So we still have to race him. That's how it should be. The guys that aren't in the Chase or that have had trouble and aren't going to be able to win, or doesn't look like they're going to be able to win, they still have the same right to the racetrack that everybody else does. So you still got to go race 'em.

Again, we just aren't going to get caught up in watching the 48 and watching the 07. There's a lot that's going to happen between now and then. I mean, I know everybody keeps saying this, everybody wants to give somebody a trophy right now. Just hold on for a little while. We're halfway through this thing. Anything can happen. And, by the way, it probably will happen.

Q: You were talking about how hard it is and how rare these wins are. 10 years ago you were going to be the guy, right? You were winning a lot, having a ton of success. I wonder if winning now feels any different for you? How does it feel different? How much more do you respect and appreciate it?

JEFF BURTON: I appreciated it then because Mark Martin was my teammate and he taught me to appreciate it. Mark Martin helped raise me as a racecar driver at this level. He emphasized to me, over and over and over, that you never know when you're going to win another race. You win a race, it might be your last. I used to laugh at him. Not about me winning, but I used to laugh at him thinking he might not ever win again. I thought that was hilarious.

But it's hard. Ryan Newman and I had this conversation before the race. He and I were obviously they're not having a great year. They're struggling. I said, Man, I know it's been hard, but keep digging. He made the point saying, You know, when you come in, and things go well, you just take for granted that's how it is. Not until it gets taken away do you realize, Wow, this is hard.

So they're all special. I definitely have a greater appreciation for it.

The thing that stands out in my mind is we left Pocono one day, and Earnhardt was struggling in '99 I guess it would have been. There was a sticker on the back of somebody's van going down the interstate. It said, Earnhardt, time to cash in the 401(k). Now, here is a seven time champion that had won however many races they'd won. The next year went and almost won a championship.

So I hear today about Gordon. Jeff Gordon, he can't drive any more. Guess what? Jeff Gordon can drive. I said in here the other day, it's ludicrous to think he had a baby so now he don't want to win any more. I mean, it's insane.

It means a lot to me Richard believing in me, asking me to be a part of his corporate company. You know, that means a lot to me. I drive every lap with that appreciation. There was a time in my career where everybody wanted me. Then it wasn't long after that there weren't many people that wanted me. So that's a humbling experience to go through. I guess we'll all go through it at some point in our life. But it's a humbling experience.

Part of the reason when I win a race I don't get cocky and think everything is going to be great in the world, I know there's a lot of challenges ahead of us. But I appreciate this win for what it is today. Come Monday, we'll start getting ready for Martinsville.

Q: Richard, you've seen a lot of these championships won. How does Burton look? Does he look like he's in championship form right now?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: I think they're definitely going to be a contender. I know the work that they're putting into it, everybody's putting into it. So I really truly feel this could be the year that he's a contender up for the championship.

Q: It's cool you guys are having fun, but as you get closer and closer to being realistically in the Chase, is it hard, don't you start strategizing more, looking at points?

JEFF BURTON: I've thought a lot about this over the last two years. What the hell's not to have fun about? Honestly. We're not curing cancer here. We're not trying to solve world hunger. We're racing. You know what I mean? I mean, when I was seven years old I wanted to drive a racecar. I'm 41 and I do this for a living. Why shouldn't this be fun? We're going to argue and fight and disagree. But at the end of the day, the reason we got into this thing was to have fun. That's why we got in it.

It's really easy to start focusing on the business side of things, focusing on points, all that stuff. I went this morning with my son, he's seven years old, sorry, just turned eight years old. We went and raced quarter midgets. We did that for fun, that's why we did it. That's what we're going to do here. We're adults. We have a job that we love. What do we have to be afraid of? We're not going to be afraid of not succeeding. We're just going to have fun, go race hard, enjoy ourselves, learn from our mistakes.

I'm not saying we're not going to hold ourselves accountable. We're going to do that. But we're going to do it in a way that's constructive and we're going to do it in a way that's enjoyable.

If we can't do this, we ought to be doing something else.  We live blessed
lives.  There's no reason not to have fun.  I'm not worried about it.  I'm
telling you the God's honest truth.  I'm not worried about it.  My wife is
sitting right there.  She can tell you, we've had no conversations about
points.  We're just going to go race and have a good time.

Q: You said earlier you couldn't remember a race like you felt you gave away. Martinsville in the spring, you finished third, led within the last hundred laps. Is Martinsville the one? Can you talk about how you feel like you have run there the last year and a half?

JEFF BURTON: That race, I thought that was last year (laughter). I don't remember the spring race at Martinsville. I don't remember it. I go back and watch videos this week. But right now I know we finished third because somebody told me that the other day. I don't remember where we qualified. I remember nothing about Martinsville right now. So I can't really answer.

I thought, the comment, was in the fall of last year.  You're saying it was
this year.  That shows you what I know.

I do remember, because of that, if that was the spring race, not the fall race, that we were good, we had a fast car. We were in position to win a race. But a couple people got better than we did late. I do remember that. But, I'm sorry, I thought that was last year.

Q: You talk about the fun atmosphere you're having. How much do you not see that in the garage area?

JEFF BURTON: Well, I mean, I don't think everybody has forgotten that. This is a great place to be, honestly. There's a lot of great people in here. Y'all do the same thing. Y'all complain about your job, too. We all do that from time to time. It's human nature.

But for the most part I think that everybody kind of enjoys themselves.  But
the stress level can get turned up pretty high.  If your whole world
revolves around this, it doesn't go well, what's gonna happen?  This isn't
my whole world.  It's not Richard's whole world.  I don't want it to be my
team's whole world.  When they're doing this, I want it to be the most
important thing in their life.  But when they're not doing this, I don't
want it to be in their life.  I want them to have freedom to spend time with
their family, Richard to spend time with his grandchildren.  That's what
life's all about.  But when you're doing this, you've got to be doing this,
nothing else.  You can't mix the two while you're trying to do it.

You know, I think this is a good place to be. I mean, a lot of people have fun dealing with it.

Q: Jeff, in Victory Lane you made a special point to thank the fans that came out with everything that's happened with the stock market. Do you wish they had as much fun watching you fight off Kasey Kahne as you had fighting him off?

JEFF BURTON: I hope so. In the economic times we have now, families are making a real sacrifice to come to the races. Honestly we probably all have taken that for granted, too, because we've had so many great years of stands full and all that. This is a hard time for people. People have to make real decisions about God, I sound like a politician (laughter). I'm not sure which I sound like. They all sound the same.

But it's hard for 'em. To be able to come and bring a family to the race is expensive. So if we can't put on a great show for 'em, then that would be a disappointing thing.

Q: With clean air being so vitally important, are you surprised more people didn't just take fuel to try to get track position or would it just work with your car?

JEFF BURTON: I think some people put two on. I mean, I think some people just did two thinking that was going to be they didn't do four because they were going to lose track position. They did two to try to gain the track position or not lose what they had.

We had run 30 laps. I'm guessing. You know better than I do. We had run about 30 laps on that set of tires. It was a lot of laps to not be putting tires on, honestly. When he said, Fuel only, I thought, Wow, we've run a lot. So I think the track position game for most people was doing two rather than gas.

The 9 car, I'm not sure what he did.  I think he only did fuel 'cause he
came    I never saw the 9 car all night.  Next thing I know we're racing for
the win.  So I think most people probably had the same opinion I had when he
called for no tires.  I thought, That probably won't work.

Q: Richard, in light of the economy, are you anticipating any changes in the way you do business? Do you see any changes coming next year in terms of how all the owners will be running things?

RICHARD CHILDRESS: Well, I think we all, no matter what business you're in today, you have to look at running a smarter business. We won't cut anything to cut our competition. But, yeah, we'll have to look at other ways to save the money, put the money where it's going to be the most effective, and that's in the competition side.

KERRY THARP: Gentlemen, congratulations.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Greg Biffle , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Mark Martin