JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Auto Club Speedway and discussed being at Auto Club Speedway, driver retaliation, green flag pit stops and other topics. WELCOME TO AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY: "It is good to...
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Auto Club Speedway and discussed being at Auto Club Speedway, driver retaliation, green flag pit stops and other topics.
WELCOME TO AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY: "It is good to be here. We're looking to turn some things around. See if we can, we finished third here in the spring. It is a good race track for us typically. We've typically struggled in the summer race, so hopefully we can get that put behind us. But we are looking forward to having a good day."
HOW HAVE YOU SEEN THIS PLACE (AUTO CLUB SPEEDWAY) AND DOES IT MAYBE WORK BETTER IN THIS MARKET FOR MAYBE ONE RACE? "Obviously the attendance here hasn't been what everyone hoped it would be. I think it is a good area for us to be in. I think being on the West Coast is a good thing. It is close to L.A. It just seems like to me that it makes sense to be here. Unfortunately, the crowds just haven't been what everyone hoped they would be. With that being said, if there is an opportunity to have a one-race event be better for a facility, this is an opportunity. Only time will tell. I believe we have a lot of race fans out here. I also know the economy around the race is really bad. That has hurt the race track a lot as far as being able to sell tickets. But I think it is important for us to be here. It is hard to say taking a race away is a good thing, but sometimes it is and this may be a case where you end up netting out more people for one race than you end up netting our for two races. I hope that is the case.
DO YOU REMEMBER WHAT IT WAS LIKE HERE FOR THAT FIRST RACE AND HAVING NASCAR BACK IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA AFTER A DECADE? "Yes, it was cool. That is what the whole deal was. Southern California, hot rods and the beach and all that stuff. We had some big thing down in L.A. with music and all kinds of stuff. It was a big event. It was billed to be back in Southern California. It was and there was a lot of people here and it was a good event."
THE LAST FOUR RACES SINCE THE RICHMOND CHASE CUTOFF RACE, WE HAVE HAD FIVE OR LESS CAUTIONS IN THREE OUT OF THE FOUR, HAVE YOU NOTICED THAT AS A DRIVER? SECONDLY CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW DIFFICULT IT IS FOR TEAMS START OFF NOT GOOD IN A RACE TO ADJUST AND FIX THING WHEN YOU HAVE LESS CAUTIONS SO LESS OPPORTUNITIES TO FIX THINGS? "I know it sounds silly to say this, but I haven't noticed less cautions, but I have noticed more green flag pit stops. That is an interesting thing because there are a lot of time to be made up or lost on green flat pit stops. The other thing is, we've become accustomed to a lot of cautions so we have started working on our cars so the run good for like 2/3 of a run and you really don't care what it does in the last 1/3 because you never get there. Well, we've been getting there. We've seen long runs. We've seen teams really fall off. So it has had an impact. It is difficult, very difficult, when you aren't running well, when you getting a lot of green flag runs, to ever try to get caught up. Because there is just less opportunity. And, the other thing, when you make the wrong move, you have less opportunity to fix it. So sometimes a good running car in an effort to get better makes an adjustment and it goes the wrong way and you go green for a fuel stop, well that hurts that team too. The less stops you have, the more precise you have to be in the changes that you make. Last week for example, we ran fourth to seventh the whole day and the last stop we make the wrong change, whatever happened-happened. I didn't ask for the right thing and we got really really slow. It went green the whole rest of the race and we never had a chance to get it fixed. So we went from racing Matt Kenseth for fourth to finishing 18th because that caution never came out, never gave us a chance to fix whatever was wrong done. So we went from being in the position to gain points, have a good points day, looking at coming here at maybe 55 or 60 points out of the lead to coming here 100 points out of the lead. That is a big difference. You are one caution away from the possibility of having something good happen to you."
DO YOU FOCUS ON TIME IN AND TIME OUT DURING GREEN FLAG PIT STOPS? "It is really important. It is really important. Pit road speed is analyzed today more than it has ever been analyzed. There are so many accurate ways to analyze it. In the past, it was always well, we had a good pit stop and we got beat on the race track so you must have been slow getting in or whatever. Today they can analyze it and there is a lot more data for them. So, yes, it opens the door for opportunity to gain spots and also to lose them."
HOW SHOULD A NON-CHASE DRIVER RACE A CHASE DRIVER? "The same way he races them every week. As a Chase driver this year, it is easy for me to stand here and say 'Well, if I am a Chase driver, I should get a special consideration.' Is that I felt last year when I wasn't a Chase driver? The reality of it is that this race this weekend is as important to the team that is 20th in points as it is to the team that is first in points. Now, I understand that in reality that isn't the case. But if the team that is 20th in points doesn't come here with the same intensity and their sponsor doesn't feel like they're getting the same opportunity be successful and their team members don't feel like they are getting the same opportunity to be successful, then, that is a major problem. So last year, when I wasn't in the Chase, I came to every race looking to win the race. The same way I went to every race before the Chase. You certainly don't want to be involved in the conversation as to why a guy didn't win the championship because you wrecked him or whatever. But, that goes both ways. You have to drive people with respect all the time. You can't pick and chose when you want someone to respect you. And you can't pick and chose when you are going to respect them. It has to be all the time or none of the time. Yes, it would be as a Chase guy and a guy that is trying to win a championship, I don't want anybody messing with me. The guy that is second in points, or the guy that is 20th in points. I want them to race me the same way Sunday that they raced me three months ago. I figure that I race people with respect and I'm going to get that back."
AFTER WHAT HAPPENED WITH REUTIMANN AND BUSCH, DO YOU THINK NOW THIS CAN HAPPEN? "Oh, it can happen and that won't be the last time it happens. That wreck last week, Kyle (Busch) didn't intentionally wreck him, I didn't think. I think that I was asked something about mending fences last week and I said when a wound is opened, it might start to close but it is just real easy to open it back up. That is what happened last week. That whole deal that went down last week wasn't just about what happened last week. It was what happened throughout the year. When you feel like somebody doesn't respect you, and doesn't show you respect, and then they get into you, whether they meant to or not, there's a different level of thought process. The retaliation came, not from what had just happened at that one event, but what happened over several events. It was swift and it was harsh. You can debate whether it was too hard or not, that's for those two guys to decide, not me. It goes back to I don't think Kyle did that on purpose last week. I watched the replay of it, I heard him get out of the throttle, but if you are David Reutimann and you've been wrecked over the last several weeks and you have had an issue with someone in the past and now you are having an issue with him again, what recourse do you have. There are two ways of doing it. You can take something they've got or you have to put fear in them. It can't be idle words. If you tell somebody what you are going do and then if you don't do it, then it is worse than not ever saying anything. I don't know. I mean, it was a big deal. Anytime someone intentionally does something, it is a big deal and shouldn't be over-shadowed. There is a history there and gets a little complicated when emotions get involved."
YOU HAVE BEEN RUNNING STRONGER IN THE 2ND HALF OF THE SEASON, IS IT BECAUSE THE CAR SETUP BETTER, WHAT MADE THE DIFFERENCE? "I think we've been fairly consistent throughout the year. Our problem has been executing, we just haven't executed. That's been our problem here in the Chase too. If you look at our year, I can go back and name seven or eight races that we had a great shot to win the race and we didn't and something happened in the last 20-25 laps of the race. And, that is how our Chase has gone as well. (CLINT BOWYER ENTERED INTERVIEW THE ROOM) BURTON CONTINUES: (LAUGHS) "And we've put up with Clint a lot and it has been a pretty big distraction (CONTINUED LAUGHTER). Honestly for us, I feel like we perform at a high level, but we don't finish at a high level and that's been really disappointing."
WHEN DO YOU WANT NASCAR TO STEP IN AND REGULATE AND HOW MUCH OR CAN YOU GUYS REGULATE YOURSELVES? "You can regulate yourself, but it turns into what we saw last week. Everybody wants everything. They want NASCAR to stay out of it until it until it is not convenient for them that NASCAR stay out of it, then they want NASCAR to be involved. When it gets severe, like what we saw with Carl (Edwards) and Brad (Keselowski). My gawd, at some point, something has got to happen and at some point you can cross that line and NASCAR has got to step in. That's the level that I think NASCAR should step in. I think that is they are going to say Boys Have At It and they are going to let you go after it, then let you go after it. There is a certain amount of penalty to be paid when you don't show people respect over and over and over. NASCAR is not going to do that, they never have so you have to. You can cross a line, similar to what we saw with the 99 and that group. That is when they would need to step in.
SHOULD NASCAR HAVE STEPPED IN BEFORE THE INCIDENT? "I don't know how they could have stepped in before the incident. I'm sure that they have had a conversation, or I don't know if they have, but I'm sure at some point there has been a conversation. Intentionally wrecking people is not a good thing. At the same time, sometimes that the only recourse."
GOING BACK TO KYLE BUSCH & DAVID REUTIMANN, AT THE R&D CENTER ON TUESDAY, GREG BIFFLE SAID THAT AS A GUY IN THE CHASE, HIS GOAL IS NOT TO BE INVOLVED WITH ANYBODY IN ANYTHING, PERIOD. AND THAT HE COULDN'T TELL ON THE REPLAY IF KYLE HAD DONE IT INTENTIONALLY, BUT IT WASN'T SO MUCH THE POINT AS DON'T PUT YOURSELF IN THAT POSITION. IS THERE A WAY FOR A CHASE GUY, 50 LAPS INTO THE RACE, IS THAT AVOIDABLE? "Well, listen. That wreck that happened last week, honestly, Clint (Bowyer) and I could have wrecked like that. When you're in the gas trying to pass somebody and something happens and they slip, you can hit 'em. And I think that's what happened. I don't think that was on purpose. I think it's just hard racing. The way things are today, you can't run 80 percent, and then just say well, now I can run 100; it doesn't work like that. It's too competitive. When they drop the green flat on the restart, if you're not kicking ass, you're getting your ass kicked. You gotta go. It's just that simple. There's no waiting around. When there's an opportunity to pass, you pass. The only way to do that is to push. You've got to push. If you're not doing it, you're not getting by anybody. It's just the nature of the business. If nobody cared how fast you went, there would never be a wreck. The fact is, the faster you go, the better you're doing. And the only way to go fast is to be up in the gas. That's why we have wrecks."
DOES IT HURT YOU WITH SPONSORS WHEN T.V. COMMENTATORS FAIL TO MENTION THEM DURING RACE COVERAGE? "I hadn't noticed that. But you have to understand I'm not watching the race on Sunday. I haven't noticed that. Whenever I get interviewed or whenever I am on the radio, it is always "Driver of the Caterpillar Chevrolet". But I'm not watching the race on Sunday. I think that our TV partners need to understand, and I'm not saying that they don't--l want to be clear, I'm not saying that they don't understand---but our TV partners need to understand that it is not just about the sponsors that they have on their program. It is also about the sponsors that we have on our race cars. That is a fine line that they walk. They have people that are paying them to advertise during the races and certainly they have to make sure they are taking care of. But what makes this sport work, is that everyone gets taken care of. If they start trying to eliminate that, then that would be a major problem and there wouldn't be much future in that."
ARE THE PAYBACKS HAPPENING MORE AT THE BIGGER TRACKS, LIKE MILE-AND-A-HALFS, HAS THAT BECOME MORE OF A CONCERN BECAUSE OF SPEEDS, ETC. "It is because we are on a lot of them. Anytime you intentionally try to spin somebody out, you are putting them in jeopardy. The faster you are going, the more jeopardy you are putting them in. There should be a consideration for that. Things need to be really really bad to intentionally start wrecking somebody. They need to be really really bad. If it gets to that point, you really need to check yourself and think about would could be the consequences. If you have road rage man, you aren't thinking straight. You really need to catch yourself and understand that if you are at California, you are running really really quick and you need to use your head about that."
IS IT MORE ACCEPTABLE AT A SMALLER TRACK? "I don't know if it is more acceptable or not. I don't know. It doesn't appear to me that it is more acceptable wherever you are. I don't think it is, I hope its not."
-source: gm racing