JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Darlington Raceway and discussed racing at Darlington, performance this season, All Star race and other topics. TALK ABOUT BEING AT DARLINGTON THIS WEEKEND: "It has a ...
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Darlington Raceway and discussed racing at Darlington, performance this season, All Star race and other topics.
TALK ABOUT BEING AT DARLINGTON THIS WEEKEND: "It has a special meaning to me. I think that the history of our sport is right here. The thought that someone would build this race track, the shape they built it, the size they built it at the time that they built it was pretty phenomenal. You go back and watch video, it is narrow now, but it was really narrow then. You watch that old video and it is just really cool to be here. To me it is the most historic weekend of the year. That makes it special."
HOW CLOSE DO YOU THINK YOU AND YOUR TEAM ARE TO A WIN? "I think we are really close. We are doing the things we need to do. We are leading laps, running in the front. We're putting ourselves in position to win. We've put ourselves in position to lose too by having a good race car our weaknesses have come out a little bit. We've got to get better. We've made some mistakes that have put us in positions that we didn't need to be in. On a few occasions we had stuff we couldn't do anything about but at the end of the day, it rests on our shoulders to finish it off. I am extremely optimistic about what we can do. I am disappointed in the results we have had, but I feel really good about what we can do.
"We've had mistakes on pit road with me not being in the box. We've had a few mistakes with me doing stuff on pit road. We've had a few calls on the pit box that weren't exactly what they needed to be. We've had a few pit stops that weren't exactly what they needed to be. We haven't done those in great quantities but we've done them at the wrong time. We had the tire thing at Martinsville. There is nothing we could have done about that. It wasn't that the bead melted, we ran over something and had a hole in it, what do you do about that? The thing at Texas where we got called for the blend-line rule, I disagreed with the call because of the circumstances. Some of those things that I thought were kind of out of our control bit us. But the things that are in our control is really what I am worried about. They have just been little things. It hasn't been like we have been habitual offenders, but we've done things wrong at the wrong time on several occasions."
WHAT IS SO DIFFERENT ABOUT DARLINGTON IN TERMS OF RACING THE RACE TRACK? "This place is a little bit like Bristol and Talladega. When you get in a wreck everybody just says that is just Bristol or that's Talladega and that is kind of the same thing here. You hit the wall here and you wreck and you just say, that is Darlington. It is a little of the built-in excuse factor. There is no question that this race track, if you mess up, you are going to hit something. At Michigan, if you mess up, you are not necessarily going to hit something. That is the big difference. The other thing that is interesting about this race track I think is that to run fast, you have to be aggressive. You can't ride around this race track and go fast. You have to be very aggressive. Aggressiveness is rewarded here. The problem is that also you pay the price for it too. It is a finer line here just because of how narrow the groove is, that is really what it boils down to."
HOW IMPORTANT IS HOW QUICKLY A RELATIONSHIP BUILDS BETWEEN A DRIVER AND A CREW CHIEF TO THE ENTIRE TEAM? "I think the team realizes whether you are winning or losing, to be quite honest, what the relationship is. You can be saying all the right things, the crew chief can be saying all the right things, but if you are not communicating correctly and the car's not getting better and things aren't happening the way they need to, then the whole team picks that up. In the case I am in now with Todd (Berrier, crew chief) from the first race, we have ran well. We haven't won yet, but we've run well enough to win and the team picks up on that too. I believe in chemistry. I believe that, you guys all know I'm not a big believer in momentum, but I am a big believer in chemistry. Anytime that communication is good; anytime that you have seen results through that communication then that means the elements are there to be able to be successful and you can build on that."
ARE YOU PLANNING FOR EXTRA LAPS WITH GREEN-WHITE-CHECKERS NOW AND WORKING IN TO STRATEGY BEFORE THE RACE EVEN STARTS? "I've been one who has said we are not going to game-plan for it. I've been the guy that has been saying, look you can't fuel mileage the green-white-checkereds because the majority of the time you aren't going to have them. Well, guess what...this year the majority of the time we have had them. You can't plan for them. I don't know that you pit if you are running in the front, you get a caution and you don't need tires, I'm not sure that you pit because you are out of the green-white-checkered window because who knows what the green-white-checkered window is. But, there is no question, when you start getting 20 to go, 15 to go, 30 to go, the crew chief's mind changes and he is starting now to think about all the what ifs. More so right now than ever before. I don't remember the year and you have to excuse me, I'm not good with years, but, one year, it got to where two tires won race after race after race. And that changed the mentality of putting two tires. That kind of went away for a little while and now you see it kind of coming back and you are seeing the double-file restart making a huge impact; the green-white-checkered making a huge impact. But you can't plan for something you don't know. You don't know how many caution laps there are going to be. You don't know...it is impossible to plan for. But, as many as we have had, as many late-race cautions we have had, it is hard right now, pitting under green and running the race out. It is hard to imagine that we are even going to do that."
HAVE YOU ALWAYS HAD AFFECTION FOR DARLINGTON? "When I was a kid, we used to come here and sit in the covered grandstands in what used to be turn four. Matter of fact, I still call it turn four. On the radio I will say I am tight off of four and the team will have to come back and say is that turn two or turn four? We used to pile in the motorhome and come here and watch the races. So, this to me, yes, it is a really special race track. I like the history of our sport and the history traces back to this sport. The first opportunity to race, that was when they used to have a rookie orientation meeting and they used to scare the hell out of you. They would show you videos of stuff and tell you that you were essentially stupid for even being here and then they would say here are the keys to the car, go drive it. It was pretty fascinating. They don't do it like that anymore, but it used to be that they would intentionally scare you. I found that quite appealing."
IT USED TO BE TRACK POSITION LATE IN THE RACE MEANT EVERYTHING, NOW IT DOESN'T SEEM TO MEAN ANYTHING ANYWHERE, WILL IT HERE? "It depends on the race track. It depends on the tire. Honestly it is really hard, if you go back and think about it, there are several races that people won that didn't have the best cars because they put two tires on and got track position. They there are races recently where four tires have been the best. So, you can't just say two tires are always going to be the best or four tires are always going to be the best. It is really situational. Double-file restarts is one of the factors but the factor is what is the tire. What is the fall-off on the tire and where are you running? The one thing you can't control is what everybody else does. So there are a lot of factors, but, the double-file restart is just one of them. The thing that is interesting here is double-file restarts going into turn one, where are you going? You know? It is going to get bottled up a little bit and it is going to be hard to make up a lot of track position. But, if four tires is that much better than two tires and you are three-wide in the middle of three and four, you are making something happen."
TALK ABOUT YOUR MOST MEMORABLE RACES HERE AND YOUR WINS: "The first race with (Jeff) Gordon, we were leading the race and had a bad pit stop and got way back and got way back and ran him and (Dale) Jarrett down. I thought we were so far back, there was no way we would get to them. We got to them, I got underneath Gordon coming to get the white and he ran me, he was blocking me, which he did what he should have done and I didn't force the issue because we were so much faster, I thought I could get back up on the race track and drive back by him coming off turn two. I didn't factor in all the debris I had gotten on the tires when he blocked me and I got so low on the race track, that was one of those if I had it to do over again. And then that night, there was a Panther game, on Sunday night, I drove home, my wife dropped me off at the football game and I ran up and as I am going up the bleachers, there were about 30 people chanting "You should have wrecked the..." (LAUGHS) Whoops, I almost slipped up. They were chanting it as I am running up the stairs. For years, I mean for years, everywhere I would go, "You should have wrecked him, you should have wrecked him". That was pretty memorable. The year we won in the rain, that was certainly an element of luck, no question about that. We ran well, we led a lot of laps, but we had led a lot of laps here and hadn't won before. Certainly driving in to victory lane, I have that picture at home, I saw it the other day. Sitting in victory lane, the car needed a snout, a rear clip, it was destroyed and to win that race like that...it is kind of funny that you come here and lead all those laps and can't win and then you win a race like that. Then won the next race in the rain too. Anyway, it was two pretty memorable races."
HOW IMPORTANT IS SOCIAL MEDIA, TWITTER AND FACEBOOK, IN GETTING VOTES FROM FANS TO GET IN TO THE ALL STAR RACE? "I'm embarrassed we are not in the race. I will just be honest about it, I'm embarrassed that we are not in it. We don't deserve to be in it because the rules say this is what you have to do to be in it and we haven't done that. But it is embarrassing that we are not in it. But I'm not going to go politicking to get in. We have two races to go win and if we don't get in, then we have a third race to win to get in it. I'm not on Facebook, I'm not on whatever they all are, I don't even know what the hell they are, but politicking to get in it. It doesn't mean that it wouldn't mean a lot to me if the fans voted me in, but I'm not asking for the vote. They all want me to ask for the vote, but I'm not going to do it. I'm embarrassed we are not in it and that is really where I am.
"There might be some tweeting going on, but it isn't coming from me, how's that? Is that fair Christine (Brownlow, PR rep)?"
WHAT WOULD YOU THINK IF A DRIVER RAN 402 RACES AND HIS ONLY WIN WAS DARLINGTON? "I would really like to know who he is talking about. I don't...to me, it is really hard to win here. I believe if you can win here barring no crazy circumstances, if you can win here, you can win anywhere. That is my opinion. I've typically run well here and drivers typically say that the race tracks that they run on, that is the track that real men can win on. I don't know. I certainly think for career to be whole, you need to win more than one race."
-source: gm racing