Indianapolis: Burton - Friday media visit

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS met with media and discussed the Brickyard, fuel mileage, winning at Indy and then winning the championship, horsepower and the new race car, Joe Logano, upcoming race at Pocono, and more. Q. (Question about...

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS met with media and discussed the Brickyard, fuel mileage, winning at Indy and then winning the championship, horsepower and the new race car, Joe Logano, upcoming race at Pocono, and more.

Q. (Question about how boring the race is.)

JEFF BURTON: I think this race is going to be a lot like every race we've seen here. I don't believe this car is going to be any different than the car we had here last year or the year before that. I think the same kind of racing you've seen the past few years is what you're going to see here. I think you'll see a lot of short runs early in the race, then we'll get long runs three-quarters of the way, then we'll get several short runs to finish the race. I don't believe by any means this will be a boring race. It is the kind of race, because it is a big racetrack, that you're not going to have side-by-side racing action. But, you know, when you watch a race here, it's from a different perspective. It's all about positioning, you know, where you can be entering the corner facing the guy in front of you. That's what matters. You don't get the side-by-side stuff, but you get a lot of good racing.

Q. It seems like a guy on top of his game wins here.

JEFF BURTON: We've had races that, you know, fuel mileage played a huge factor in. We've had races -- you know, this is one of those racetracks that you can actually pit under green and not get a lap down if you're far enough had. We've had races that that's influenced. But, you know, typically it's good teams that win here.

But, you know, it's a little bit of that everywhere. I mean, really, we don't really have one racetrack that you have a lot of fluke winners on. But this track does present with fuel mileage and with the ability to pit on the green and not get a lap down, it does present opportunities.

Q. You mentioned fuel mileage. Is there one thing you could key on this weekend for you?

JEFF BURTON: All's we care about is (indiscernible) good corners. Turns two and four are exceptionally important. Most of the passing, if you watch the race, most passing takes place in turn one and in turn three, leading on to the short chutes. It's so important to get off of two and four because it leads to the strong straightaways. What all that means is you have to be good in every corner, because if you're not good in every corner, you can't get your business done.

Q. How much stock to you put in this thing of six of the last nine Brickyard winners have gone on to win a championship? You win this race Sunday, will you consider that a bellwether?

JEFF BURTON: I won't consider it that. I think that -- you know, I think sometimes stats are, what you're saying, stats are stubborn things. But sometimes I think statistics are not -- you know, don't have a whole lot of meaning. That's one I would say doesn't have a whole lot of meaning.

Q. When you guy as hot as Kyle Busch is, do you expect him to walk in here as the race favorite?

JEFF BURTON: I think it would be hard not to focus on Kyle and his team everywhere. I mean, it would be really hard to do that. They've earned it. They proved they're going to be competitive every week. I'm sure they'll be competitive this week. If I was an odds maker, it would be a hard case to not make him the favorite.

Q. Do the long straightaways here bring that Toyota horsepower more into play?

JEFF BURTON: I don't think the Toyota horsepower is a factor. I think -- I know what I see on the racetrack is that, you know, I think there's a lot of parity in the Cup Series on engines. So, you know, what really matters to me at this point is how well we go through the corner.

But I don't think Toyota, Chevrolet, I don't think any manufacturer has an advantage. I think it's as equal as I've ever seen it in the Cup Series.

Q. The COT, how is that going to play?

JEFF BURTON: The biggest thing we all have to understand is how to get the cars to travel and when we want them traveling. The curb, whatever you call them here, ripple strips, whatever they're called, can be a huge factor. You want to run as low as you can in the corner. In the past here, if you ran too low, you'd tear the left front valence off of it.

Big question for all the teams and the drivers right now is, what impact will that have on the splitter, and how low can you get before you cause a problem. That's the big question right now that we all have to answer.

But I don't think it's going to be as bad as we all think it's going to be from a splitter height standpoint. That's the biggest looming question. As far as the race with the COT, I feel good about it. I think this is actually the track that the COT is going to really shine on because they like smooth racetracks. This is the smoothest of smooth racetracks. They seem to run the best at higher speeds, smooth racetracks. That's what this is. So I think the quality of the race, the way the car is driving, will be better here than everywhere else.

Q. For you guys, because of this car, is everything that Harvick and RCR learned when he won here...

JEFF BURTON: That was a long time ago.

Q. Zero can be put onto this car, setup and everything?

JEFF BURTON: Everything that we're working off of is based on, you know, last year we all tested here. This year we didn't. So everything that we work off of from a data standpoint and from an information standpoint really is based off of the last test when we were here. That's where we accumulate the information we go work on.

So Harvick winning in 2004.

Q. 2005.

JEFF BURTON: I think gives us absolutely no information whatsoever. I wish it did, but it doesn't. Track has changed, too. I think it's just a whole 'nother world.

Q. Can you give us an idea what it's like to ride around this track?

JEFF BURTON: It's pretty cool. I mean, you know, the front straightaway is a ton of people. There's people on the left, there's people on the right. It's quite an interesting experience. It's unlike any other racetrack that we go on because of that.

To me there's just a sense of, I don't even know how to describe it, but it's different here. The history is always looming here. The thought of winning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a big deal, it really is a big deal. It's hard to explain, but that specialness is with you every lap you make.

It's one of those places where you have to (indiscernible). This isn't a track that you can just manhandle, muscle your way around. Precision is important and you have to be able to concentrate and be committed to running the lines you have to run. Because if you miss it by a foot, you've missed it by a mile. So to me, it's all about the level of focus, the level of concentration, the ability to kind of put the blinders on with everything going on around you, focus on what you're doing.

JEFF BURTON: I think everybody's different. I think sometimes it makes it easier. You know, this is a unique situation. You have a big race. You have a racetrack that the history is huge on. And you come in here on an off weekend. Everybody comes in here with a different attitude. If your year's going well, you come in here, okay, I'm rested up, everybody's got some rest, now we're going to go, we got 17 weeks to make some business out of it. If you haven't had a good year, then you've spent the last week and a half thinking about all the things haven't gone well, what you have to do to fix, you come in with different attitudes.

I think that's part of the reason you've seen a lot of good teams win this race is because they come in with different attitudes. They come in with a lot of confidence. They come in with, you know, feeling like they got it going on. And when you had that going on, you had it all weekend, that just builds, you know. When you step away, optimism builds. When you go to the Daytona 500, everybody's going to win a championship, everybody's going to win the Daytona 500, nobody's going to finish 35th, nobody's not going to be in the top 35 in points. There's optimism.

That same thing happens when you come here, when you've had an off weekend. I think that has a huge impact, the mindset of people has a huge impact on the success.

Q. What is your attitude?

JEFF BURTON: My attitude is we have seven weeks to, number one, solidify our shot, solidify our chance in the Chase, and at the same time we have to improve. We can't win the championship if we can't find a way to be faster, unless we get a championship run like we had two years ago, where nobody really put it together, you know, everybody kind of struggled and had trouble. Under that scenario, we could win. But if going to have a street fight, we're not good enough.

My mindset is the next seven weeks about, number one, getting us in; and, number two, building a way for us to have a street fight. So we've got -- we have a lot of work ahead of us. So I took, hopefully our team took, the last week off, had to catch our breath, because now the really hard work begins. And we're gonna test. We're gonna work really hard. And we're not gonna look at the clock. We're gonna look at the potential that this team has, and the only way to tap that potential is to put a lot of effort into.

To me this is the beginning of a 17 week, hard as you've ever worked, more dedication than you ever put in, that's what it's part of.

Q. (Question regarding Pocono.)

JEFF BURTON: I thought we ran real well at Pocono. The first part of the race, we struggled a little bit. Kind of got it the second half of the race. We were really good in practice. I think we learned a lot in the test. I feel -- I'm really encouraged about Pocono. I think we have a really good chance.

Q. Another one that might be considered a wild card, would be Bristol. Talk about what that can be like. Do you get dizzy there?

JEFF BURTON: Bristol is Bristol. You got to go into Bristol understanding that it's going to be a tight race. You've got to keep your temper in check. It's always been like that. It's always going to be like that. There is a chance a lot of stuff can happen. There's no question that people that are competing for the Chase will have trouble at Bristol. There's no way that all 14, 15 cars that are trying to get in there have a chance to be in the Chase, to go through there unscathed. It isn't going to happen. It just isn't.

I think it's important to understand that, it's important to recognize what you're up against, you know. But it's a tough race. It's a time of year where the pressure's up, you know, tensions are high. The reality of not having success right in front of you, the reality of the race not going well, the reality of that, what it means to the success of the team is real big 'cause we're getting down to those last three or four before the Chase starts. Is a pressure-filled race.

JEFF BURTON: I've been in every race and it's hard for me to imagine I've been in 15 of these races. It really is hard to imagine. I did not come here to do that first test, but I was here for the first race. And it's been incredible. I mean, what's cool about it is it still feels like the first race. It still has that same aura about it. You know, there's very few races that have that feeling, and this is one of them. It's kept that. That's pretty special.

Q. Question regarding Joey Logano in the Nationwide Series.

JEFF BURTON: I don't spend my days watching Joey Logano race. Nor do I spend my days watching Mark Martin race. I have a lot of respect for people's driving talent, I appreciate what their ability is. My focus is really on what I'm doing. I mean, Logano without a doubt shows a tremendous amount of potential. He can have success, there's no question about it. There's a lot of things that go on between now and the end of his career. There's a lot of work. You have to have the right breaks. There's no question he can be successful. But I don't look at any driver and just, The guy's gonna be it. I just don't. There's so many factors that go into it. Nor can I impact it in any important fashion. I'm more concerned with what I'm doing than what other guys are doing.

Q. Question on IMS

JEFF BURTON: I feel like a lot of places we go, that the reason the track is there is because of the Cup Series. This track I don't feel like that. This track I feel like we're a guest, we're visitors, and we're on somebody else's turf. I think it's cool. I want to do it every week because, you know, I want us to be it when it comes to motorsports in America.

But it is cool to be able to go somewhere that a whole 'nother group made special. And that's the way I view it. I view us as visitors and we are hopefully adding to the mystique of the track. We aren't creating it. And that's different.

Q. You said this race hasn't lost any of the way it felt the first time. To what do you attribute that?

JEFF BURTON: The fact we only run here once a year is a positive. The fact that we all go and we watch the Indianapolis 500 every year, that has a huge impact. And if you're a racer, you're a racer. You may not want to be an IndyCar driver. You may want to be a stock car driver. But you still respect how special winning the Indy 500 is.

You know, we're running the Coca-Cola 600 trying to put our schedule around so we can watch the Indy 500. I think it's a huge race. It's the only place we go that the race, when we're not here, is potentially even close to being as big as our race. I mean, it's the only place. There's nowhere else we go that there's something bigger that takes place except for here. You can make the case it's not bigger, it's equal. But nowhere else do we even have that.

I think that adds to it, too, because we all watch the Indy 500. I think it increases a level of understanding of how big this racetrack is and the impact of what winning the Indy 500 means.

Q. Can Kyle Busch drive these cars a little freer than other people? Dale Jarrett made that point.

JEFF BURTON: I've heard that for a long time about different drivers. I don't believe so. But whenever somebody's doing really well, there's always a reason they're doing it. And he deserves a tremendous amount of credit for the ability that he has and what he's brought to that team. And I'm not trying to downplay that, 'cause it's been real special. But I don't think he can drive a car any looser than some other people.

Q. Do you see anything about his driving, is he able to carry more corner speed? He said himself he uses less brake than a lot of people.

JEFF BURTON: Well, it's hard for me to make that assessment about how he does what. You know, he is fast in the corners, as every good racecar driver is. You know, I'd have no way of knowing how much brake he uses compared to me, for example, or for anybody else for that matter. I'm not privy to that information, of course.

But, you know, good racecar drivers make time in the corners and they jump when it's the right time to jump. You know, it's not when there's a hole and it's the right time. They take it. That's what he does a really good job of, is he doesn't -- you know, you watch him race, when there's an opportunity, he takes it. You know, it's important.

You know, he looks a whole lot better this year than he did last year. I don't think he got that much better. He's really good. But I think what they got going on again, and he's a huge part of that, is obviously working.

A lot of that has to do with him. It's really the hardest thing about a sport is being able to watch somebody and say, Where are they doing it better than me? Some people can watch a football game and do an analysis because you have all the information, you know. But did the quarterback make the right decision? Did the play develop the way it was supposed to? All that stuff. You don't have that here. All you have here is you get to watch a car go around the race track, and one car's going around the race track better than another one and you don't know why. Even me, it's been like that with me, too.

But Kyle does a really good job of getting everything out of his car every lap. He has the intensity level up every lap. But he does it in a smart way, too. I mean, Kyle's a pretty smart driver. I mean, he has a reputation of being just kind of throw caution to the wind. But he really isn't that. You know, he hasn't wrecked that much. He doesn't hit a lot of stuff, especially in the Cup car.

But, you know, he's doing it all real well right now.

Q. This is his fourth year, too, when a lot -- Matt Kenseth won a championship in his fourth, Johnson in his fifth.

JEFF BURTON: Kyle is exceptionally gifted. As long as he stays as focused as he is today, he will only get better.

Q. I want to ask you about the thought that there's home-field advantage. People are saying Tony Stewart wants it more and he'll walk away with it because he wants it more. Is it true that one driver could want it that much more than another and he would have an advantage here at home?

JEFF BURTON: I think that's true in any sport or in any -- whatever you're doing. You know, when you match talent with dedication and desire, that's a difficult thing to beat in any business or any sport.

The very best of the best not only have talent but they are willing to put in the time and commitment to be successful. The more that you want something, the more you're willing to do the things it takes to be successful.

Now, having said all that, come into Indy and wanting it more than anybody else doesn't make you win Indy. But what it does do is it makes you willing to put the work in to do the things that you have to do to win Indy. Indy isn't won on the Sunday of the Indy race. The win is executed on that day. Winning Indy was done months ago. You execute today. So the commitment that it takes to go test, to do all the things it takes to be successful rather than going and play golf or going to do something like that, that's where commitment pays off.

Q. Do you believe he wants it more than you here?

JEFF BURTON: No, I don't believe he wants it more than me. But I believe that I -- I do believe that it is hard for anybody, for 36 weeks, to bring more intensity and more want than everybody. You know, I may want the Southern 500 more than somebody else. Tony may want this race more than somebody else. And when you watch that -- because as hard as we try, you can't bring a hundred percent every week. You might only bring 96%. It's hard to bring a hundred percent every week. I know a lot of people don't understand that. But in our sport, when you're dealing with 10ths of a second, 98% versus a hundred percent is a big difference. When you do this, when you race 38 races a year, you test 20 times a year, you do all the stuff you do, you're gone 200 nights a year, there's a point at somewhere, some race, you aren't a hundred percent. It's just that simple. Whatever you do for a living, you never -- everyone if you try, you never bring a hundred percent every day, even if you try. You try, but you can't do it.

And so when you match talent with desire, with dedication, with commitment, those things are very hard to beat.

Q. (Sponsor paint scheme question.)

JEFF BURTON: Yeah. Caterpillar really wanted the input of Richard and I both. Holiday Inn was very in to that. Earlier when Art Hawkins and his wife were behind it, they very much wanted our participation. We've had some of that.

Q. Do you like being involved?

JEFF BURTON: To me, what I care about is -- what I care about is what does it look like for the fans. Can you read the sponsor? That's what's so cool about the AT&T sponsorship. You can't mistake the blue and white globe on an orange car. You can't miss it. That's what I like about it. I like the visibility. I like if they kind of show it on TV, you can't miss it. I prefer that more than me saying, Wow, that stripe's cool. I just want it to be seen.

Q. Do you like your favorite color or anything like that?

JEFF BURTON: No. My favorite color -- honestly, my favorite color wouldn't work. I think black cars are really cool looking, but you don't see them on the racetrack. If you look at the cars that are the most visible, the Home Depot car, the AT&T car. Those cars just jump. You know, they're orange. You can't miss 'em.

Q. AFLAC is running a black car next year with Edwards.

JEFF BURTON: I mean, I love black. I've always loved black racecars, but they don't show up like bright-colored racecars.

Q. Does Caterpillar look different next year?

JEFF BURTON: You weren't in Chicago? Where were you? We had an unveiling. It's a lot of yellow. The side of the car has some graphics on it. You've got to look at it. It's pretty cool.

Q. You had a little bit of input on it?

JEFF BURTON: We didn't have final one. We shouldn't have final. But we have, what do you think of this, what do you think of that. They're creative. They brought us options. They made the final decision. We said, we like this one, we like that one. Ultimately it's the sponsor's decision. If the sponsor wants to say, Okay, driver, you do it, or Carl, you do it, that's cool. But ultimately it's the -- the sponsor needs to get out of it what they're looking to get out of it.

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Joey Logano , Kyle Busch , Mark Martin