JEFF BURTON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed politics, the broadcasting of team communications during the race, tire testing and more. Full transcript. TALK A...
JEFF BURTON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Dover International Speedway and discussed politics, the broadcasting of team communications during the race, tire testing and more. Full transcript.
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HOW THINGS HAVE GONE SO FAR IN THE CHASE AND HOW YOU SEE THINGS HERE AT DOVER THIS WEEKEND. "Well obviously we are only one race into it and we had a good race in New Hampshire. We were solid all day. There were a few times in the race we had a car fast enough to win but certainly not at the right time and not for long enough. We thought we ran well there. Look forward to this weekend. This is a really tough race track. A lot of challenges here and obviously its number two and it's important to not get behind. It's important to try to get ahead and that's what everybody that's in the Chase is going to try to do this weekend is lay down as many points as possible. Of course you do that by winning."
HOW OFTEN IF AT ALL DO POLITICS COME UP IN THE GARAGE? DO YOU GUYS TALK ABOUT THE DEBATES AND THE CANDIDATES AND IS IT UNPOPULAR IN THE GARAGE TO BE A DEMOCRAT? "Certainly it comes up a lot. The politicians make the laws and the rules and that impacts us as a sport and of course as individuals, so it comes up a lot. I don't think it's unpopular to be a Democrat. I hope it's not. I would like to think that we make our decisions based on what's best for us as individuals and what's best for the country and that could change from being a Democrat to a Republican ever so often. Certainly this has been a heavily conservative garage for a long time but I would by no means say it's unpopular if you were not a conservative, if you were a Democrat. I hope that's the case."
WE'VE ONLY GOT FOUR TEAMS REPRESENTED IN THE CHASE AND MANY OF THE SPONSORS ARE MOVING TO THE BIGGER TEAMS, IS THERE A DISPROPORTIONATE SHIFT OF POWER AND WEALTH TO A FEW TEAMS AND DOES THAT ENDANGER THE WHOLE SPORT FOR THE LITTLE GUYS? "It makes it harder for the little guys there's no question about that. The harder it becomes for the little guys, the more endangered they will become. There's no getting around that. The key for the little guys is to try to find a way to be the big guys, but it's very difficult to do because there's only forty-three spots. You can only have forty-three people at every race and it's hard for the little guy to expand and bring in more teams and become one of the big guys because it's very, very difficult to get into the race. That's the initial problem, where just anybody can show up and bring race cars, that really doesn't strengthen our sport. For us to have a situation where a smaller team can grow, he has to be able to have a foundation that allows him to grow. We don't have that today. That's one of the reasons I've pushed really, really hard to make it so there's forty-three teams, not forty-nine teams. Because it would enable the little teams to be bigger and by the way it might make some of the bigger teams smaller. There's a negative in that too but I think there's more positives to it than negatives."
WHEN YOU SAY THAT, DO YOU MEAN SPECIFICALLY FRANCHISING? "I'm not going to say the f-word, can't say the f-word in here. I don't know if franchising is the right word. I think an expansion of the top-35 rule to make it a top-42 rule or something like that is what I think we need to do. I think that provides stability. Listen, when the economy is going well it's a whole lot easier. When you really start to see people getting hurt is when the economy starts to go bad. Sponsors are just not going to continue to show up spending the kind of money they are spending today in this economic environment not knowing if they can be in the race and we've got to find a way to sure that up. Top 35-rule was an awesome rule and NASCAR deserves a lot of credit. I just think it ought to be a bigger rule. It ought to be top-42."
LAST WEEK YOU TOUCHED UPON THATHIS IS THE PLAYOFFS, THIS IS THE TIME WHEN YOU'VE GOT TO STEP IT UP, YET WE'RE ALWAYS TALKING TO DRIVERS AND CREW CHIEFS THAT ARE SAYING WELL WE'RE NOT GOING TO GET EXCITED IT'S ANOTHER RACE AND WE'RE JUST GOING TO LOOK AT IT AS IT'S ANOTHER RACE, ARE THEY JUST TRYING TO PULL OUR LEG? "Well it's both. You cannot come into Dover and say okay we're in the Chase now and we've got to do all these things different and change this and change that. The people who have success are able to do what they do and do it well. They're able to step their program up a little bit. Very few times you see a team that can't be competitive all of a sudden just find a way to do it and go and knock off four or five wins. It is very important to stay grounded. It's very important to find a way to not let the emotions get the best of you, not let the situation get the best of you but for you to get the best of the situation. There's a big difference. When the teams say hey it's just another race, it's one of ten that's what they're saying. But the reality of it is I've talked about this a lot lately but the Giants last year they stepped it up. Each player did a little more. Each coach did a little more. They found a way to be better at the right time and that's what you have to do. It's easy to say it. It's easy to say hey we've got to step it up. The question is how you step it up. That's where the difficulty comes. Every team knows they have to step it up in the Chase but how do you do that and that's where it gets hard."
I DON'T KNOW THAT YOU'VE EVER BEEN CAUGHT IN A CONTROVERSY BECAUSE OF SOMETHING SAID ON THE RADIO, BUT IT SEEMS LIKE OVER THE LAST FEW WEEKS WE'VE HEARD OF THAT A COUPLE OF TIMES. ARE WE BECOMING MORE AND MORE ENVASIVE TO THE DRIVER/CREW WORLD? DO YOU THINK PEOPLE OUGHT TO BE ABLE TO LISTEN TO THAT CHANNEL? "I've been in the middle of that where I had another driver really mad at something I said that I was speaking to my team with no prior knowledge that television was, television didn't come to me pre-race and say hey can we play you, nothing. They replayed my transmission to my team and I didn't think that was right. I think I should at least know it. I thought that it was handled incorrectly because if you know that they are going to replay what you're gonna say and you say something then so be it.
"But, with no prior knowledge and with no history of TV ever replaying something without coming to me saying is it okay if we play you're transmissions, if we do this if we do that, I thought they overstepped the boundaries. I thought that was inappropriate. At the same time, I think that we need to have access to the driver's comments, to the crew chiefs comments because I think that is interesting to the fans. We do the Track Pass thing a lot and I don't change what I say, I don't change what I do because we do that. If I make somebody mad because I said something then so be it. It's my responsibility to make that decision. As long as we know it, as long as it's clear that television, radio, print is going to print the things that we say, then so be it. It creates a bit of drama for us but you know what that's why it's fun to watch so I'm okay with it. Again, I just think we need to know the rules."
THERE WAS A TIRE TEST THIS WEEK IN ATLANTA WHERE ONE CHASE TEAM AND TWO NON-CHASE TEAMS WERE THERE, DOES THAT GIVE THE CHASE TEAM AN ADVANTAGE AND IS THAT SOMETHING YOU GUYS HAVE ANY CONCERN ABOUT OR IS IT A NON-ISSUE? "Well I'm not going to say it's a non-issue but I do think we have to be careful how we pass out tire testing. I bet if you dig into it you'll find out that it was done correctly. That teams are asked to do it. I don't know if it's a formal rotation but I'll tell you at RCR we don't feel like we've been slighted to this point, not that I'm aware of, that we've been slighted in not being asked to do a tire test. If we got in a situation where we had ten races and we did two tire tests and we were a Chase team, we were the only Chase team that didn't get invited to do the tire test then we might have some concern with that. I don't want to say it's not an issue and that it's a non-issue but to this point in this year I don't feel like that anyone has been slighted in being asked to do a tire test."
-credit: gm racing