JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 PRILOSEC OTC, met with members of the media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and discussed racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, aggressive driving, schedule changes and other topics. Q. How has this placed changed to you over...
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 PRILOSEC OTC, met with members of the media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and discussed racing at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, aggressive driving, schedule changes and other topics.
Q. How has this placed changed to you over the years?
JEFF BURTON: You know, I don't think it's changed a whole lot. I think we came here and there was a lot of hype about being here. There was a lot of excitement about being here, and I think that excitement is still here. The history of this racetrack is so large. NASCAR didn't build this racetrack. We're here as guests, and I think that after being here for a while, we all have a little more appreciation for that. But honestly I ran the first race here, and whenever we come here, I feel like it's that same enthusiasm.
Q. How do you think this weather will impact your team this time around?
JEFF BURTON: The last race here was caution it wasn't caution free, but it was all but caution free. It went forever. I'll be surprised if we see that. I think the competition's tougher today than it was a year ago. I think the race will be more competitive. I'll be shocked if we have the kind of race here that that we had last year. The early part got strung on out a lot.
Q. Jimmie's won two in a row, and three of the last four here and we know how tough this track is. How impressive is it to be able to do that here?
JEFF BURTON: Well, he's been good everywhere. Last year he did a good job on the restart. Got by Mark on the outside. Once he got by Mark, I think Mark had the better car, but once he got in front with the aero deal, he wasn't getting back by. They've been fast everywhere. This is a track where you have to come here and run really well.
Q. Why does it seem the guy that's won here has gone on to win the championship in the last 12 years?
JEFF BURTON: I'd love to say it doesn't matter. But with those stats, it's hard to say that. I don't know. Maybe it has something to do with the team peaking at the right time. I think sometimes when you have an off weekend and you come back, I think the best teams come to the top. I know it sounds ridiculous, but this is such a long season. You get into the grind of it, a week off sometimes you lose focus a little bit. I think the best teams rise to the top after a week off. You know, that may have as much to do with it as anything. But I honestly don't know.
Q. Since Mark went to visit the F1 shop, you started the rumor that he's going to Red Bull?
JEFF BURTON: I didn't start that rumor. You'll have to talk to Mark about that.
Q. I heard you kind of fired it up a little bit though?
JEFF BURTON: To who?
Q. With some people around?
JEFF BURTON: I haven't I haven't mentioned Mark Martin and F1 to anyone in the media or anyone that could repeat anything.
Q. I didn't mean media?
JEFF BURTON: That's all I have to say.
Q. Brad Keselowski this morning, more getting away from the Edwards-Keselowski incident, he was kind of questioning yellow flags. Guys seem to be going hard even after the yellow flags come out like they did at the end of that race. Is that a problem? Do you see an issue with that?
JEFF BURTON: I haven't seen that at all. I don't even know I watched that whole incident and I, you know, I don't know what everybody's supposed to do. You're going 140, 150 miles an hour, you just don't stop. I didn't think that incident had anything to do with people going hard. I think it was just where it happened. Everybody's wide open on the gas on the straightaway. Something happens, it's going to happen. You've always got to remember, too, the start of the incident doesn't always start the caution. For the caution there's always a delay. They're yelling in the tower put it out. But it still takes a little bit of time for that to happen. I haven't felt any issue whatsoever about cars still racing through the caution at all.
Q. Obviously over time over your career, racing has changed, the style has changed and the demands on you as a driver too. How are you seeing the boys have at it? Is the season changing? Is it as quick of a change?
JEFF BURTON: I expected no change, to be honest. I came into the year with the boys have at it thing. I felt like it was more of a statement to the fans. But in reality I didn't see why it mattered. You go back and track the number of penalties that NASCAR has dolled out throughout the years for rough driving, it's pretty low. So I didn't think it would matter. I was wrong. The mentality of the drivers is, well, they've said this, so let's see what it means.
I think the drivers are testing what it does mean during the race and after the race. I think that it's created a little more excitement. It's created a little more hard racing, which is probably the result of what they wanted. But, again, I didn't expect that, I really didn't think it would make any difference at all, but it has made a difference. It's more aggressive.
Q. I wondered how much of a change I'm not in your position where I can think back to where Johnson came into the sport. But I've heard veterans saying those guys were running race laps like qualifying laps and picked up the pace. When they came in, that seemed to be a change. I'm just trying to get a sense if the aggression now?
JEFF BURTON: It's a little hard it's hard for me to put my finger on it and say. I'm one of those guys where if something happens, if you do something and something happens, it's not necessarily the result of doing that one thing. A lot of things have changed with the spoiler, with the tires. I believe the biggest impact of the racing has been the tire. I think the tire has had the largest impact of anything over green and white checkers, over aggressive driving, over boys have at it. They make more grip. The more grip the tire makes, the more equal the field's going to be. So I think Goodyear was off a little bit with the tire when the C.O.T. first came. And I think the improvement of the tire has created a situation where they have more teams that are running more closely to the same speed and that's created more, I think, than the green and white checker. Not the green and white checker, but of the boys have at it. I think the biggest impact for the quality of racing over the last five or six years has been this new generation of tire. I think that's why it's more aggressive than it's ever been because more people can run well, and double file restarts. Double file restarts that bunch everybody together, and that's made it interesting as well. But if you take two cars and they run the same speed, the way to pass it on the restart. You know if you can get in front of that guy, he ain't getting back by you unless you make a mistake. So the restarts have become so aggressive because the cars run so much closer to the same speed once you get running. So being able to go on the restart is more important today than it's ever been. I think all of that relates back to the tire.
Q. There are a couple of spots where you can get by because it's such a fine science on the restart?
JEFF BURTON: We always talk about is it harder now, is it easier now. The best drivers are going to do the best. It's harder now, but it's more competitive.
Q. On being more aggressive:
JEFF BURTON: You have to be more aggressive today to to run up front than you did ten years ago. There's no question. You have to be willing to you know, ten years ago there wasn't even 15, 16 years ago people rode for a period of the race. There is no riding anymore. The only person that's riding is if a guy has an incredibly fast car and he's able to pace himself. But honestly, there is no saving the car anymore. There's none of that. It's just run as hard as you can every lap and pick up every spot you can every lap.
Q. Some people have adjusted differently. The Keselowski-Edwards might change the NASCAR hands off policy. Does it change in your mind at all what they decide to do?
JEFF BURTON: I think they didn't penalize him enough. I don't understand why Keselowski got penalized at all. I'm still confused. And I haven't read or heard or talked to NASCAR. I don't know why after that incident that Brad Keselowski should be put on probation.
Q. We talked to them in Atlanta, they said don't put us in a position to have to make a call. That was their explanation.
JEFF BURTON: Well, if you drive in the corner on a restart and your car slips and you get into another driver, that's an occurrence that happens every race. And that's what happened in that race. That's what happened when I got into Kyle Busch at New Hampshire. That's what happened when Kyle Busch got into me at Charlotte. That's racing. There was nothing that was that was just racing. You could make the case that, yeah, he knocked him out of the way and he did. But he didn't spin him out. I mean, he didn't do anything like that. He got into him a little bit. So, I just was confused about it. So to me, I looked at that and I said, okay, he got penalized more than I thought he should have gotten penalized. And I thought Carl got penalized less than I thought he should have been penalized. The way I look at it from my perspective, and I'm not an aggressive driver, but from my perspective what that told me is you can intentionally wreck somebody twice and there's a 60 point penalty in the Nationwide Series. Doesn't effect anything he's doing for the big show.
In my world, I thought that penalty was way less severe than it could have been and perhaps it should have been.
Q. Not to speak for them. But it seems their argument is the track record mattered here. The fact that they had run ins before mattered here?
JEFF BURTON: Well, I think it does. Your past history and track record should matter. I just don't know that the penalty for Keselowski committed the crime. No one wrecked when Keselowski did what he did. No one spun out.
Q. Does that leave you confused with what guys can get away with going forward in terms of how aggressive they can be?
JEFF BURTON: To my original point, I thought the penalty was less than it could have been, so that tells me they're sticking to that boys have at it. I think the one that really caused the most damage, and the one that put someone in jeopardy was penalized less than he should have been penalized. This has nothing to do with Carl. I have no beef with Carl. It's an incident and those two happen to be in it. But you can't not talk about Carl if you're talking about the issue. But I've got no beef with Carl whatsoever. But I thought, honestly, Saturday night when I watched the race, I thought on Tuesday I would read a much, much bigger penalty than it was.
Q. When you see incidents like that happen repeatedly by a certain driver, and we're not talking about Carl, but anyone. Does it make you in the back of your mind want you to race that person differently when you're near them?
JEFF BURTON: You have to be careful. You always watch the way a guy races other people, because that is an indication of how he'll race you. But at the end of the day you have to pay attention to how erases you, especially when it's been a long period of time.
I've raced against Carl for eight, nine years, whatever it is, and we've had a good working relationship. And what could have been a tense situation, we didn't let it be that. We had a few run ins, but nothing out of the ordinary. So my relationship with Carl with me goes about how he races me and how I race him, but there is no doubt when something happens you are paying attention because it's a glimmer it's a sight into what someone's willing to do.
Q. When somebody does the bump and run on you like Brad might have done in the first turn there of the last lap, what is the proper response?
JEFF BURTON: Here's the way I saw it: The proper response wasn't available to Carl because when they got off the racetrack, the third place car got there, okay. Now you've got the third place car or perhaps the second place car even on the first place car's bumper. So Carl couldn't get in the position he needed to get in to give the proper response.
The proper response would have been to return the bump and run. That would have been perfectly acceptable. You know, get him in the rear bumper, knock him back off the racetrack. You do it to me; I'll do it to you. That would have been a perfectly normal and natural response with very little said about it, I think. That wasn't presented to him, because the second or third place car, depending on where he was running, got behind Keselowski, and he couldn't get to him. So that's what created Carl feeling like he had to do what he did. That's my opinion.
I'm not in Carl's head, but in watching the race as soon as it happened, I said he's going to get him back. But I'm like he can't get him back. There is a car there. There is nowhere for him to get him back. So instead of waiting for three or four weeks, he decided to get it back right then, and the only way to get it back right then was to do what he did. That wasn't the right response.
Q. Lot of guys think you have to get him back right then. You can't wait three weeks. You need to even the score now?
JEFF BURTON: There are a lot of races. There's a lot of racing, there's a lot of laps, there's a lot of situations that you get yourself put into. You know, it would have served Carl better to be a little more cautious than he was, and would have ultimately ended up with more points.
Still wouldn't have won the race, but could have made a point. Now he can't make a point. That's been taken away from him. He's been harmed by his actions. He now is fighting with a knife at a gunfight.
Q. Denny Hamlin's won five races this year, career high. Can you talk about what they're doing different or better this year and what is distinctive about his driving ability?
JEFF BURTON: Well, they've been fast. Honestly, they've executed. I mean, really, most opportunities they've had to win the races, they've won them. That's a great thing. That's a wonderful deal when you can do that. It's what we haven't done. They've been fast for years and they will continue to be fast. But I think this year every time they put themselves in a position, they've executed. You go back and think about Texas, he didn't lead the most laps. You think about Martinsville, he and I had different cars. When they put themselves in position, Denny didn't make a mistake. The team didn't make a mistake. They made it work.
Q. As safe as you've been over the last number of years, are you concerned with this little boys have at it ethos now, maybe you're on the verge of something horrible happening?
JEFF BURTON: I don't feel like that. I don't feel like it's more dangerous. I feel like it's actually safer than it's ever been with the advancement in safety.
I do think there is a line you have to draw. I do think that Mike Helton said that this winter that there is a line that can be crossed. I think as long as we don't cross that line, I think it's fine.
Most of the incidences we've seen haven't been hard impacts or impacts where most of it has not been unacceptable in my eyes.
Q. NASCAR's talking about the 2011 schedule. Are there changes you think they should make in the schedule as far as when you advance and where you're going?
JEFF BURTON: I think the fans should make that decision. I think honestly my career is to go wherever the races are. I have some opinions, but they're solely based on personal preference. At the end of the day, we should be where the fans want us to be when they want us to be there. I think climate should play a huge factor in that. I think fan attendance should play a huge factor in that. We have some racetracks that aren't as attended as well as others. That should be factored in for sure. But I don't I like to stay away from that answer. I have selfish reasons for wanting to go somewhere or not go somewhere. And that's not the way the decision should be made. It should be based on how many people want to come on those particular weekends and what is the quality of the race. What is the quality of the race and the length of the race. What is the length of the race, the quality of the race, how many people are coming? How many people want to be there? All of those things ought to factor in. What is the best time? The climate? There are events going on in some cities on weekends where it's like too much going on. Maybe avoid that weekend. All of those factors should come into play.
Q. You've been around the schedule to see the changes number wise. Has racing more often put more on your shoulders or on your team's shoulders?
JEFF BURTON: Well, yeah. I mean, it's harder now than it's ever been. But I love what I do. I'm not going to say we do it too much. I think in some cases the races are too long.
But as far as the length of our schedule, I think we're at the upper end of it. I don't think we need to be adding any, but I'm not an advocate of having less races. I'd love to have more off weekends. I'd love to have racing on Wednesday or Thursday night a couple times and have a few off weekends because of the quality of life for our crew members would be so much better. But, again, we all chose this profession, and it should be based on what the fans want.
-source: gm racing