JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T MONTE CARLO SS TALKED WITH MEDIA ABOUT THE DEMANDS OF A 600-MILE RACE, THE AT&T DECISION, BROTHERS RACING WITH EACH OTHER AND MORE WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT RUNNING THE NEW COT FULL TIME IN '08? "I think that's the right...
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T MONTE CARLO SS TALKED WITH MEDIA ABOUT THE DEMANDS OF A 600-MILE RACE, THE AT&T DECISION, BROTHERS RACING WITH EACH OTHER AND MORE
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT RUNNING THE NEW COT FULL TIME IN '08? "I think that's the right call. In the financial interest of the team owners, they were much better off having one car; and the teams can concentrate on that car rather than having to have potentially three different kinds of cars today. For me, I think it's 100 percent the right thing to do."
WHAT DOES THE EXTRA 100 MILES ON SUNDAY POSE PHYCIALLY FOR YOU, THE DRIVER, IN THE CAR? "A lot of it depends on the weather. The hotter it is, the harder it is. It's supposed to be warm on Sunday. Of course if goes into the night and the temperatures will cool down quite a bit. It does add a little bit - there is no question about it. Six hundred miles is a long race. Conditioning is really important. If you're borderline on 500 miles, then 600 miles can put you over the edge. And you might not be as sharp as you need to be at the end of the race. But at this level, there's not much excuse for that. You need to be in shape and you need to be ready. I would imagine most people are."
TALK ABOUT THE ADJUSTABILITY AND DURABILITY FACTORS IN THE CAR "The adjustability thing is really difficult. We talk a lot about having adjustability in the cars, but really, with having to make pit stops and not wanting to lose track position on the race track, it's hard to get a whole lot done. You'll pull some spring rubbers and certainly make some adjustments to the trackbar and air pressure. But it's a difficult thing to do to build a car that's adjustable. We talk about doing that, but it's a hard thing to do. In all fairness, you don't see many cars here that really run well during the day and then run bad at night. You'll see some cars that aren't as good in the day that are better at night. But a really good car is a really good car. We're going to try to be good in both segments. In the races I've won here, I can honestly tell you we were good in the day and at night. That's the way it has to be."
HOW MANY CHANGES DOES THIS TRACK GO THROUGH IN THE COURSE OF A 600-MILE RACE? "You get the first obvious change which is getting more rubber on the track after the Busch race. The first run on the race track is always the slickest. You get through that run. And then the next segment is from day to night and the next segment is the continuing of the rubbering up in the cooling conditions. It changes during the night quite a bit. It doesn't happen one, two, three, four, it happens slowly and steadily. And staying ahead of that is what's difficult. Staying ahead on adjustments and what you can do to your car so that you don't get behind at the wrong time is really important. If you're going to make mistakes on changes you make to the car, those mistakes need to be made early so you can learn from them and hopefully not make that mistake early. Sometimes in doing the wrong thing you learn what the right thing to do is. Hopefully you can get that done early, not late."
ON THE AT&T DECISION GOOD OR BAD OR INDIFFERENT FOR THE SPORT OF NASCAR? "I don't think it's bad for NASCAR at all. I'm not an attorney and believe it or not, Richard (Childress) and everybody at AT&T has asked me to stay focused on driving the car and not worry about this. So believe it or not, I haven't been involved in the minute-to-minute of this thing. From my prospective, the ruling wasn't about NASCAR's ability to grant exclusiveness. It never challenged that. The ruling was about what AT&T's grandfather right allows them to do into the future. The judge ruled that they had a right to be here. That doesn't change the fact that NASCAR can still grant exclusivity to its sponsors, which is an important factor. NASCAR needs that right. They need that ability to do that. This ruling doesn't change that in any form or fashion. In particular with AT&T, they were allowed to move forward based on the grandfather clause said, not on what NASCAR's ability to grant exclusivity is. The way I view it is that NASCAR has done an incredible job of moving the sport forward. They have all of my respect. The other thing is - and it's real important for you all to know - is Richard Childress and myself and AT&T, only want what's best for NASCAR. For us and for our sponsors to be in this sport, it has to be healthy. It has to provide proper marketing ability for the sponsors and this does that. This judge's ruling doesn't change any of that. Nextel-Sprint has done an incredibly good job with marketing this program while two other cell phone companies were here. There is no reason that can't continue in the future. It's certainly been more stressful than I wish it were. I wish it wasn't as difficult as it has been. But when you look at it for what it really is, I don't see how it changes the game plan at all. I don't see how anything is impacted from a negative standpoint at all. I really don't believe it does."
WHAT DID IT DO TO SOLIDIFY YOUR FUTURE AT RCR AND YOUR FUTURE PLANS? "Richard (Childress) and I have a plan and we're working on that plan and executing it. Certainly getting this behind us is really important, but it would take some very, very strange circumstances for me not to be at RCR."
HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR THE LONG 600-MILE RACE PLUS RACING IN THE BUSCH EVENT? "Hydration is really important. Nutrition is really important. It's too late to train for it. It's too late from a physical fitness standpoint, but it's not too late to start eating specifically for a race weekend. I eat differently than I typically do on a week. That gets kicked off tonight. And the nutrition part of it is really important and being smart - not trying to do too much on Sunday before the 600. Getting proper rest is important, which is difficult to do with an 8:00 race on Saturday night. The good thing is there is nothing we have to do on Sunday morning, so we can sleep in. The hydration, nutrition, and proper rest are really important."
TALK ABOUT GOING TO DOVER AT HIGH SPEEDS WITH THE TEST BEING WASHED OUT "Certainly the test would have been beneficial. At the same token, we were able to go to Darlington and I thought, for the most part, all the teams did a really nice job of responding to the challenges that Darlington threw at us without at test. I think having a test at Bristol and a race at Darlington - those things are very beneficial to what we're going to be doing at Dover. So, obviously we're all a little bit nervous about it but for the most part, I think we'll be okay."
THE DOVER TRACK IS NICKNAMED THE MONSTER MILE. IS THAT FITTING? "Oh, yeah. Darlington's nickname and Dover's nickname are the two most fitting of all the race tracks. Dover is just a physically demanding race track. It's very difficult to handle well there. When you hit, you hit hard. It's one of the most difficult race tracks we run on. The corners are really wide, but the straight-aways aren't. It's just a really tough race track."
AFTER THE ALL-STAR, WHAT DO YOU EXPECT OF THE TIRE FOR THE 600? "I expect a lot different. In the 600, you're going to get longer runs. With this tire specifically, there's going to be the people that can take off and run fast aren't necessarily going to be the people that can run good after 80 miles. We didn't have that on Saturday because of the shortness of the races. The longer runs will have a positive impact on the race. These tires are not conducive to 20-lap races. They're just not. They don't make enough grip to put on great side-by-side action. But they do put make enough grip to put on racing action later in a run. That's a major difference between a 600-mile race and a 25 or 30-mile race. It is a major difference - 600 miles versus the All-Star race. This tire just doesn't work with an All-Star format. I think it works fine for the 600 format, but for the All-Star format, it's not the right tire."
HOW QUICKLY CAN FORTUNES CHANGE IN RACING? "It changes as quickly as life can. This sport is really no different than life. Everybody is here working hard and trying the best they can. Sometimes things happen to people for no reason. Sometimes people deserve it. Sometimes the hardest working people are the luckiest people. There's not a whole lot of difference in this sport than in life. If anybody thinks they're at the top now and they're never going to find their way to the middle or bottom, they're wrong. By the way, if anybody is at the bottom that thinks that they don't have a chance of finding their way to the top, they probably won't because they're mentally beaten. But the fact is that they can. But it can turn on a dime."
HOW THIN IS THAT LINE BETWEEN RUNNING LIKE JEFF GORDON IS NOW COMPARED TO HOW KASEY KAHNE IS RUNNING? "It's thinner than you think. Let's don't forget that it wasn't that long ago that when you watch the No. 24 at a 1.5-mile or two-mile race track they were a 20th or 30th place team. They weren't competitive at all. That's really tough. It's a very fragile thing. When you're doing well, the reality is that we all think we know why, but we don't 100 percent know why. It's the same thing when we're doing poorly. It's a difficult thing to do. I can remember coming over here and everybody picked us to win the championship in 2001. We came over here 25th in points - running bad - and won this race. Somehow, some way, we won this race. We went to Dover the next week and finished something like eight laps down - with no mechanical problems. So that's how tough this sport is, which makes it good. It's what makes it a challenge and what makes it fun. But I can assure you that nobody stays on top forever. That's just how it works."
WITH YOUR EXPERIENCE, DO YOU ALLOW YOURSELF TO ENJOY THE HIGHS MORE? "I appreciate it more, but I don't enjoy it more, if that makes any sense. My personality is such that I'm on to the next thing pretty much all the time. That's good when things aren't going well because I can get on to the next thing, and when they are going well I don't take as much time as I could to enjoy it. But if I did that, I'd be forcing it. That's not who I am. My personality isn't that. I do appreciate it more."
HOW DO YOU MENTALLY GET TO EACH RACE? "I look at the race weekend as part of the week. It's what am I going to do this week? I don't look at it as how do I prepare for Sunday. It just depends on the week. Every week is different. Next week we're going testing for two days. So that week I'll do differently than I'll do last week where we didn't test any. It's a moving target. You need to be in tune with your body and your mind. When your mind needs a break, you need to know it. When your body needs a break, you need to know it. I think that's real important."
OF ALL THE TRACKS, IS THIS THE PERFECT TRACK TO RUN A 600? "Oh, yeah. I think this is the kind of race track you'd want to have a 600-miles race. At some of the tracks we run on a 500-mile race is too long."
ON CRACKING DOWN ON FANS WHO THROW THINGS ONTO THE TRACK "We don't have any room for fans that cannot conduct themselves in a fashion that's respectable. This is about the fans. It's about having them come out and have a good time. Throwing stuff on the race track fits no part of that. If there is a fan out there that believes he wants to throw something on the race track, we don't want him here. The sport can do just fine without selling him that ticket. There is no reason for it. You can't make it work. If that's the kind of person you are, we don't want you here."
LAST WEEK KURT AND KYLE BUSCH GOT INTO IT. DID YOU EVER HAVE THAT HAPPEN WITH YOU AND YOUR BROTHER, WARD BURTON? "Yeah, just not in front of millions of people. Ward and I went through that at a local level, where we were on different pages with where we were in our lives at that point. We didn't understand that racing isn't more important than family. And we learned the hard way. But we did it in front of maybe 1,000 people - not millions of people. And that's one of the great advantages of being able to grow up and being in this major scene is that you can make mistakes without it being so glaring. But Ward and I had a time when we didn't understand how to race against each other and still have a lot of respect for each other. They'll be a day when it becomes to any brothers that family is more important. And hopefully it doesn't have to get ugly before you realize that."
KURT BUSCH SAID TODAY THAT WHEN HE AND KYLE FINALLY TALKED, HE TOLD HIM THAT HE WAS PROBABLY DRIVING A NOTCH TOO AGRESSIVELY THIS SEASON. BUT YOU WENT OUT OF YOUR WAY TO SAY NOT SO, AFTER LAS VEGAS. IS IT POSSIBLE IT'S BOTH WAYS? "I didn't say he wasn't driving aggressively. What I said was the Kyle has driven me with a tremendous amount of respect. Kyle is aggressive. And Kyle tends to err on the side of aggressive rather than passive, that's for sure. His aggressive nature has put him in some positions that he would have been better off not being in. And at the same time, his aggressive nature has put him in that car. So it's a Catch 22. Experience will teach him when to push that button and when not to push it. Only time will take care of that. I don't have a problem with Kyle or with Kurt. They have both raced me this year with respect and the way I'd like for them to race me and that's how I judge people."
-credit: gm racing