JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA SS met with members of the media at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and discussed success of Richard Childress Racing, upcoming changes to the race cars and other topics. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT ALL THREE RICHARD ...
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA SS met with members of the media at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and discussed success of Richard Childress Racing, upcoming changes to the race cars and other topics.
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT ALL THREE RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING CARS BEING IN THE TOP-FIVE IN POINTS AND THE DIFFERENCE FROM LAST YEAR?: "Obviously, we've gotten off to a good start. Ended last year really strong and made a lot of progress throughout last year. I know it seems like it happened overnight, but it didn't, it was a lot of work and a lot of misery in between bad and good. Hopefully we can keep it up. This has been a good start, but its two races out of 26. We're not celebrating just yet. There's a whole lot of work left to do and that's really what our focus is on. Hopefully we can come here and do well. This has been a really good race track for me. We seem like we've run well here pretty consistently so hopefully we can take what we've been doing and find a way to make it a little better."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW YOU FEEL INSIDE THE RACE CAR?: "What drivers like to feel is they like to feel grip. When you don't have grip in the race car, it really limits what you can and can't do, how aggressive you can be, where you can put your car. The big difference for us is the amount of grip that the cars make. To be quite honest, at the end of last year we really, really ran well and a lot of that was because we made this incremental change with the way we were building our cars and they just drove so much better. It made a little change feel like a lot because we were used to driving cars that didn't make a lot of grip and now we were driving cars that made a fair amount of grip and it just gave you a lot of confidence to do the things you want to do. That's the big difference. You watch restarts and stuff like that, you see the people you're racing against just drive away from you and you know you're driving hard and you're doing all you know to do, but they're still driving away from you. That's real frustrating."
HOW WILL YOU APPROACH PRACTICE TODAY WITH RAIN IN THE FORECAST FOR TOMORROW?: "It won't change the way we approach practice as much as it will say like the Hendrick guys. The Hendrick guys typically work on qualifying setups on Friday and race stuff on Saturday. We'll stick to our normal plan, which is work on race setup and then qualifying. For us, it's not going to be a real big change."
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO A GRASS ROOTS RACER TO HAVE GREG BIFFLE STARTING A DIRT TRACK AND RACING SERIES?: "I think it's hugely important. Much the way Little League Baseball makes Major League Baseball, short track races make this. You have to have steps in the process and you have to have local level racing for this to work in my opinion. Obviously, it grooms talent and it opens the door up for people to learn what it is they're doing at that level to be able to come to this level. There's something more important than that about it. There's a real hometown pride in a race track, it's a sense of community in a local race track. There's guys, what we define as real racers, that race at the local level -- they race their whole lives at that race track and they're not doing it for the money, they're not doing it to get on television, they're not doing it to buy a big house, they're doing it because they love to race. That's a real special thing."
IS IT HARD TO GAUGE WHERE RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING STANDS RIGHT NOW WITH THE NEW SPOILER PACKAGE COMING IN A FEW WEEKS?: "You can't gauge where you stand right now for what's coming. Anybody that tells you that spoilers aren't going to make any difference, they don't know what they're talking about. It's going to make a difference. I'm not telling you that I know what difference it's going to make, but I know it's going to make a difference. All of us at RCR (Richard Childress Racing), we understand there's a big picture and we understand that it's a long year. I would love to sit up here today and tell you how great we are and what we're doing well. I know there's a lot of things we aren't going to do well throughout the year that we're going to have to work on. I know the immediate challenge is the spoiler thing. We have to find a way to be good when the spoiler comes. Every team in the garage is fighting that. I think even if we're 20 races in and we're running the way we've run to this point, we're not going to stand up here and tell you how great we are because we understand how hard it is and as quickly as we've turned it this way, if we don't continue to do the things we need to do then it will turn the other way. We have a lot of work ahead of us. We're two races into a 26 race deal and that's really enough said right there."
DO YOU PAY ATTNENTION TO THE FANS REACTION TO JIMMIE JOHNSON'S WIN LAST WEEK AS A SIGNAL OR ARE YOU FOCUSED ON OTHER THINGS UPCOMING FOR YOUR TEAM?: "We pay attention to what the fans are saying because without the fans we're not anything. We can't change what we do because of a fans opinion, from a team standpoint. We did everything in our power to win that race last week whether we had finished first, second or 30th. We put all the effort we can into every race to try to win the race and if Jimmie Johnson beats us or if Dale Earnhardt Jr. beats us, the feelings that the fans get from that really is nothing we can do about. Really all we can do is focus as a team and try to do the best job we possibly can and we came up a little short last week. Certainly the 48 (Johnson) got a lucky break last week, there's no denying that, but at the same token we had a car that started on the outside of him and a car that started behind him and he still beat us. That's on us. We have to find a way to not let that happen."
WHAT CHALLENGES DOES ATLANTA MOTOR SPEEDWAY PRESENT?: "The biggest thing is just the way the speed falls off so much. It's like it has two personalities. You've got this real aggressive, drive hard for qualifying and then when the race starts, you race it like you used to race Darlington. The place gets really slick, real slimy, it's amazing the amount of grip you don't have there. Having a car that makes more grip than your competitors and making the most out of that -- even the best handling car there in the last few years has handled awful, it's been terrible. Finding a way to do it better than your competition in a low, low grip arena -- that's the biggest challenge."
HOW WILL YOUR TEAM TRY TO LEARN THE NEW SPOILER?: "We've been doing some testing. Each team has tested at least once. Honestly, without testing on the right race track with the right tire it's very difficult to learn a whole lot. Teams that are doing the best job of testing are doing it not at the race track. It's a balance of doing it at the race track and doing it at the shop. To really do it right, it has to be done at the shop and verified at the track."
WILL THE CHANGES TO BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY'S TURNS BRING BACK THE RACING OF THE OLD BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY?: "I hope not. I don't know, I don't know what it's going to do. When they first put the soft walls in, there was a big deal made about how much narrower the track had gotten and it did get narrower, but you just adapted to it as a driver and learned how to make it work. Will there be more wrecks? Essentially that's what we're talking about here. I don't know. It's funny because most of the drivers really like the way the race track is now, but the fans want to see it back to kind of like it was. I don't know what impact it will have to be perfectly honest. I have no way of knowing that, I just don't know."
-source: gm racing