Concord, N.C. (September 24, 2003) - The NASCAR Winston Cup season is drawing to a close but there are still plenty of 'hot topics' being discussed in the garage. Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 CITGO Ford, and one of NASCAR's more outspoken...
Concord, N.C. (September 24, 2003) - The NASCAR Winston Cup season is drawing to a close but there are still plenty of 'hot topics' being discussed in the garage. Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 CITGO Ford, and one of NASCAR's more outspoken drivers took some time to discuss several of these issues. Here's a look at some 'hot topics' through the eyes of Burton.
Talladega Rule Changes - NASCAR has called for the height of the spoilers to be increased ½ - and the restrictor plates will also be larger. How will this affect competition?
"I don't understand why they made the change. Supposedly it's to make passing easier but until they separate the cars into smaller packs it won't be. You have to make handling easier and the way to do that is to take one pack of 43 cars and make several smaller packs. Then we would be able to pass which in turn would make for a better race."
New Caution Rule - NASCAR has eliminated racing back to the yellow flag. They have also put in the caveat that the first car one lap down would get a lap back. What are your feelings about this now that there is one race under your belt with the new rules in place?
"It was obvious the gentleman's agreement hadn't been working. NASCAR is the only one who could do anything to fix it. I applaud them for recognizing we had a problem and stepping in to do something about it. I think the rule made for a safer race at Dover. That being said, I knew there was eventually going to be a problem with getting a lap back but I didn't think it would happen that soon. I think it's obvious that it's not the right thing to do. It was a little frustrating to be quite honest. There were driver's one lap down who got their lap back by doing nothing. It's our own fault though. We wouldn't abide by the gentleman's agreement so this is what we get."
Safety and Safe Barriers - With the addition of the safe walls at tracks like Richmond and New Hampshire, can you describe what this means to the overall safety of the sport? Do you think it's progressing at a rapid enough pace?
"It means a lot. In the initial stages the focus was around the driver, seats, head restraining systems, helmets, and those kinds of things. This is the first major thing that we've seen done at racetracks with regard to safety in quite a while. Racecars, racecar seats and helmets have been continually evolving over the last several years but racetracks have not. Until now the racetrack technology has not been progressing like racecar technology with regards to safety. I think installing the safe barriers sends a message to everyone that whatever it is that you're doing, to whatever extent you participate in this sport, you need to look at how to make it better on your end, not just wait for someone to make it better on their end."
Points Championship - You're teammate Matt Kenseth is currently leading the points battle. What are your thoughts on this?
"Of course I'd rather it be me. But seriously I think it's great. Matt (Kenseth), Robbie (Reiser, crew chief) and the entire No. 17 team have worked extremely hard to get where they are today. Some people like to talk about the fact that they've only won one race this year and Ryan (Newman) has won like seven I think, but the fact of the matter is they've been consistent. They've consistently run in the top 10 and finished in the top 15 week after week. I think someone told me Matt's completed all but two laps this year and that's incredible. I'm really proud of Matt and I think it's great that they are doing so well. I hope they can hold on for these last few races."
Roush Racing is a subsidiary of Livonia, Michigan, based Roush Industries that operates eight motorsports teams; five in NASCAR Winston Cup with drivers Mark Martin, Jeff Burton, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle; one in the Busch Series with Burton; and two in the Craftsman Truck Series with drivers Jon Wood and Carl Edwards.