JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO SS JEFF BURTON, WHO HAS CONSIDERABLE SEAT TIME TESTING THE NEW IMPALA SS, TALKS WITH THE MEDIA ABOUT THE CAR OF TOMORROW, THE CHAMPIONS PROVISIONAL RULE, AND PHYSICAL CHALLENGES OF THE SEASON...
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO SS
JEFF BURTON, WHO HAS CONSIDERABLE SEAT TIME TESTING THE NEW IMPALA SS, TALKS WITH THE MEDIA ABOUT THE CAR OF TOMORROW, THE CHAMPIONS PROVISIONAL RULE, AND PHYSICAL CHALLENGES OF THE SEASON AMONG OTHER THINGS
ON SPEEDWEEKS We're concentrating very hard on getting the best finish that we can number one in the 150's and then moving onto the 500. I'm just not wound up about qualifying on Sunday. I've prepared myself for whatever comes is what comes. But come Thursday, that's what we're here to do.
ESPN IS COMING BACK; DO YOU HAVE A COMMENT ON THAT? Well, I'm glad to see them back. I think ESPN has had a tremendous amount to do with the amount of success that our sport has had. It's normal for ESPN to be here, in my opinion. And that's no disrespect to anyone else. I think the other networks have done a great job of covering our sport. A lot of the roots in our sport go back to Bob Jenkins and Jerry Punch and Ned Jarrett and those guys that were doing the races. I'm glad to see ESPN back. I watch ESPN classics and watch some of the old races and I just really enjoy the coverage that they gave then and I'm glad that they're back.
YOU'VE HAD A SUCCESS AND NASCAR HAS HAD A LOT OF SUCCESS, WHAT'S THE BEST WAY TO HANDLE SUCCESS? Number one, you can't ever get to the point where you think that you're just always going to have success. The best way to handle success is to act as if you haven't done as much as you need to do and to understand that you haven't done as much as you need to do. There's always more to do and there's always a way to do it better. There is no pinnacle. There is no end. If you've won a Championship, then damn, there are people who have won two. And if you've won two, there are people who have won three. There is no place where you can get and say I've done everything that I've ever wanted to do. There's always more to do and there's always more challenges and there's always a way to do it better. That's the best way to handle it.
ARE YOU STILL LEARNING ABOUT THIS SPORT? Any driver that has stopped learning has just gotten to the point in his career where he has decided that he doesn't need to learn anymore. And that's not where anybody should ever get. I don't care what you do. You talk to a guy that's 75 years old and he's still learning. And there are things in his life that certainly he hopes he's learned enough where he doesn't have to learn as much as he learned in the early part of his life, but there's always learning to do and I know that for a fact.
WELL THE WORD IS OUT THAT YOU GUYS HAVE GOT THE CAR OF TOMORROW LICKED? I don't know why they've said that. We haven't been to the race track with anybody except for the Goodyear tire test.
We've worked hard at it, but other people have worked hard at it too. We'll see what happens. We've put a lot of effort into it. And it requires effort. If you take the restrictor plate races out, it's half the year. There are 16 intermediates and 16 Car of Tomorrows. You can't win the Championship, you can't contend for the Championship if you don't have a good Car of Tomorrow program. It's just that simple. We have put a lot of effort into it. But I know other teams have too. I, by no means, believe that we have some big advantage in the Car of Tomorrow but we'll see what happens. We'll know in about a month. We go to Bristol to test three or four weeks from now, it'll be much more clearer about where everybody is. And I expect to see, in the first part of the Car of Tomorrow, I expect to see variances of speed. I think some teams haven't had the resources to devote to it. The program Is way behind in scheduling. I think there is going to be a time where the first place team is going to be a lot better than the 35th place team. But that gap is going to close.
DO YOU THINK IT WILL NARROW QUICKLY? I think it'll narrow really quickly. But I do expect to see a temporary gap. I'm not suggesting that we're going to be on the top edge of that gap, I hope we are but only time will tell.
WILL THIS YEAR'S CHAMPION SCORE THE MOST POINTS IN THE CAR OF TOMORROW RACES? I'm not going to say that he's going to score the most points in the Car of Tomorrow races, but he's going to have to score a good number. I think there are five Car of Tomorrow races in the last ten. It's half in the first and it's half in the second. You can't mutter through it. You've got to be successful in it. If you can't be successful with the Car of Tomorrow, you won't win the championship. I don't think you can earn the 12th most points and still get it done, but you can earn the third or fourth most points and get it done. It's a huge part of the year.
HOW HARD IS IT TO FIND THE RIGHT BALANCE BETWEEN THE TWO? I think the balance is clear of a picture as it could possibly be. It's half and half. That's the balance. Each program deserves the same amount of effort. Each program deserves the same amount of dedication, of funds allotted to it. I think that's it right there. I think the picture is as clear as the schedule can make it. Its every bit as important to be good in the Car of Tomorrow (races) as it is to be in the intermediates. If you have to make a sacrifice, then you can simply look at the schedule and see that the sacrifice ahs got to come at the plate races. Because if you look at it, there is four of them and there's sixteen and sixteen. So that's where the sacrifices by some teams can be made. Although its easier to not make the sacrifice at the plate races because it's the same car that we ran last year and the same engines that we ran last year so it's easier to not make that sacrifice.
In all honesty, I think that all you have to do, when you're racing for points, you just have to look and you say "Alright, what kind of race tracks do you have to be good at?" And with the way this schedule is laid out, you've got to be good at both of those forms or you won't get it done.
DO YOU SEE THE POSSIBILITY OF A TEAM THAT YOU MIGHT NOT THINK OF RIGHT NOW, WINNING THE CHAMPIONSHIP? Oh yeah, Sitting here last year did anyone think we were a contender for the championship?
There will be surprises this year. Both good and bad surprises. I think there will be teams that have more success with the Car of Tomorrow program than they have with their other program and I think there'll be opposite of that too. I think there will be people who will have more success in the intermediate program and not with the Car of Tomorrow. I don't think there's any doubt about that.
WHY DOES SPEEDWEEKS TYPICALLY GENERATE SOME TYPE OF CONTROVERSY? Because all of the media is here together. (laughing) You've got to have something to do.
Typically, those things are started by the people involved in them. I've never believed that the media creates the news. We create the news. But it doesn't take a whole lot to get you all fired up this year and it doesn't take a lot to start a lot of controversy this time of year because we're not talking about who just won last week; there's a whole lot that hasn't happened yet. So all the focus is still on what hasn't' happened on the race track and what's happening off the race track. A great deal of the controversy in our sport that we discuss this time of year is off the race track. When we get to Bristol, it'll be talking about who threw the helmet at somebody and then that controversy will get going. But right now there are issues out there that deserve attention. There are some really large stories out there that deserve attention and some of them have more than one opinion. That's what controversy is by the way; you've got to have more than one opinion to have controversy.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT NASCAR'S RECENT ADJUSTMENT TO THE PAST CHAMPIONSHIPS PROVISIONAL? I'm a huge believer in the Champions provisional because I think a Champion deserves some form of major acknowledgement. It's so hard to win a Championship here that I think if you are a former Champion, you are deserving of something special. This is that. I also think that there are limitations. Whether six is the right number or not, that is not for me to decide. That is the number that NASCAR has come up with and they typically do pretty well at those kinds of things and I'm good with it. Id o believe, however, that if you are a Champion, you should have to run every race to be able to use that Champion's provisional. I don't believe that if you come in and run a partial schedule that you should send another team, another sponsor, another car owner home because you are a Champion running a limited schedule. I think that's too big of a cost for the people that should have been in the race. That's too big of a cost. And the commitment and the acknowledgement of a Champion is that he was a Series champion. He ran the whole year. He put in everything it took to win a Champion. In order to receive the acknowledgement, in order to receive the perks of that, he should have to do the same thing. I just don't think that a part time Champion should send a full-time sponsor and a full-time team to the house on a Friday afternoon. I'm really opposed to that.
ON THE PHYSICAL STRESS OF THE SEASON: It's different for everybody. Last year, I will tell you, was physically, the second California race I just got sick and I just felt bad. I did get ran down. Every year that I've been in the sport, the first year I got about half way and have had my tongue hanging out. And every year since then its gone further and further and further into the year before I felt tired. And last year, until I got to California, I was feeling great. Then, like I said, I got sick, and I went through about a six week period where I just felt like crap and then I started to feel better. I think number one, you have to physically take care of yourself. You have to do the simple things. The common sense things. You have to get enough sleep. You have to eat the right food. You have to continue to get your workout programs in. I think those are common sense things. But getting worn out emotionally is harder to combat. You've got to find a way to step away. You've got to find away to put things into perspective. You've got to find a way to understand that the whole world isn't revolving around every lap that you make so everyone has their own way to step away from that so whatever works for you. But physically you've got to daily, hourly, take care of yourself. Emotionally you've got to find a way to deal with all the issues and not sweep them under the rug. A lot of people deal with issues by ignoring them and then the issues become bigger. That's a bad thing. You've got to find a way to deal with the issues. But when it's dealt with, be done with it and go on. And understand that it's going to be hard. We come to Speedweeks every year and you see people walking around and they're all pumped up and they're all happy.
There's only one guy down here who is going to win the Championship. You've got to understand that it's hard. You've got to understand that there are pitfalls coming. You've got to understand that there's a huge emotional roller coaster ride that's about to start. You've got to understand that. You've got to be willing to understand it, accept it, and know how to deal with it. It's taken awhile for me to get there, but I think I'm there.
ON JUAN PABLO MONTOYA: This is what I said a little while ago on TV. They asked me about Montoya. What I said was, I wish we were at a place in our society where we didn't have to talk about Juan Montoya because he's not from here. It's sad that we're not there. It's not a NASCAR issue; it's a society issue. At some point, we've got to get past that. And I'll be damn glad when we do. The thing that interests me more about Montoya than him being Hispanic or anything else that has anything to do with that is that I think thought this we have a great opportunity for NSACAR fans to understand that there are great drivers that don't drive stock cars. And I think we also have a great opportunity for F1 fans to understand that this really hard. And that we're not just a bunch of dumb unintelligent rednecks with cherry pickers taking engines out of trees. I think that those groups of fans are going to have a much better appreciation for what the others do. Montoya's ability is going to show. He has too much ability for it not too. And it's going to show quick. You're also going to see the typical mistakes, and not typical to him, typical to anyone that hasn't been doing this. You're going to see those mistakes. You're going to see how hard it is to be competitive on a weekly basis. The F1 guys are going to be watching Montoya, wondering what this sport is all about. It's going to open that door to some people and they're going to realize that this is harder than it appears to be on the surface. But the NASCAR fans are going to realize, "Man, those guys who turn left and right over there in Europe, they're pretty damn good." I think it's going to be an eye-opener for everybody. And that interests me more than all the other stuff. The other stuff, I'm just done with. It's just ridiculous that we even have to talk about it. It's ridiculous that in 2007 we have to have a conversation about someone being a different color. It's ridiculous. We ought to be past that.
-credit: gm racing