JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO SS TALKED WITH MEDIA ABOUT THE LAS VEGAS TRACK SURFACE, THE CAR OF TOMORROW, THE POINTS CHASE AND MORE ON NEW LVMS SURFACE: "Well, it is rougher than you would expect with a new surface, but It...
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO SS TALKED WITH MEDIA ABOUT THE LAS VEGAS TRACK SURFACE, THE CAR OF TOMORROW, THE POINTS CHASE AND MORE
ON NEW LVMS SURFACE: "Well, it is rougher than you would expect with a new surface, but It is what it is. It is our job to get over the bumps better than everybody else. But you would expect on a new race track to have a smoother surface."
ON WHAT COULD BE DONE TO MAKE IT SMOOTHER: "I don't want them to touch it because every time new asphalt is laid down or they do something different, it just makes it that much more of a challenge. What this track needs to be left alone to get old and weathered and then it will be where it needs to be. I would prefer to have the bumps but the track needs to get weathered so we can run the kind of tires we need to be running. It is really slick, the track has a tremendous amount of grip but you can't take advantage of it because the tires have to built the way they are built so they will live. When you build a race track with this much banking, you can't build a tire that will live. So you have to come with a tire that can live which means it doesn't make grip, which means it is a challenge to get the things to drive well. So that is the problem with new race tracks, especially high banked race tracks."
ON WHAT IS THE GREATEST DIFFERENCE: "First of all, lets be clear, I am not complaining. It is what it is. I support bringing a tire that is too hard. That is the right thing to do. The only complaint I have is that we wish there was a way to build a new race track older, with old asphalt or something. I don't know. Too much banking is a problem. When you come to a track like this even when you slow down to make it through a corner, the speeds are really high. You just don't have overall grip. The first thing you do is work on it so it won't spin out and then the front won't turn. Well, the front won't turn because you have too much wheel to it so it will still spin out. So you go to try and take that out of it and it is too loose. It is just hard to hit a balance. For the drivers it is just a huge challenge to not drive in the corner too deep, to not get in the gas too soon but also to drive in to the corner deep enough and get on the gas soon enough. It is just a real fine line. We have heard of setups and things being like a razor blade. It is real easy to get it to one side or the other, it is just a real low grip line."
ON HOW RACE WILL PLAY OUT: "We will definitely be racing the race track, that is just the way it is going to be, there is just no question about it. But we do that every week. The guy that goes around the race track the fastest is the guy that wins the race. We get caught up and worrying about who we are racing, but really ever week, we race the race track. The team that does the best job of making their cars drive well, is going to put themselves in a position to win a race. "
ON SIMILARITY TO CHARLOTTE RACE WHERE THERE WE CAUTIONS EVERY 26 LAPS OR SO: "We have the advantage of the smaller fuel cell now and I think that it is going help. I think that as the track gets rubbered up, it might get better yet. I might be more difficult in some senses because it is going to be warm on Sunday. Heat has been a very big factor here. As it has warmed up, it has gotten much more slick. I expect to see a lot of cars sliding around and we are going to have to do some give and take a little bit, we are going to have to be smart. But it is going to be interesting, that is for sure."
ON BEING ABLE TO NOT TAKE TIRES ON A PIT STOP: "You are going to want new tires every stop. Here at the test, everybody ran their fastest laps on old tires, but I don't think that is going to be the case here come Sunday. New tires are still going to be better. I am not saying stickers are going to be better, but I think two or three lap scuffs or stickers are going to be the way to go. I can't see people coming in and doing just gas, I don't think that is going to work. I am still worried about the tires because it is a new track with a lot of banking. But I am much less worried about it today than I was a month ago. We aren't going to scuff tires to keep from blistering; we will scuff them because they drive so much better. Scuffed tires drive better than stickers. That is not uncommon for a new race track and this tire. It is not uncommon for scuffs to be a better feeling tire."
"A credit to Goodyear. They brought back something that was going to pull some speed out. We had to pull some heat out of the tires and the only way to do that is was pull speed out. That is the only way you can keep from blistering is to pull some speed out. Goodyear has done a nice job bringing a tire that will do those things. It isn't going to be fun for us. It is going to be as I said to Scott Miller; I will be taking some overtime pay for Sunday because the work level is going to be really high. But that is ok. I don't know that the quality of racing will be affected but honestly, I think the quality of racing will be fine. It is just getting your car to drive well."
ON SUNDAY'S RACE: "I think the track is going to get better and better as it gets rubbered up. Because we have smaller fuel cells, we will have more opportunities to make adjustments to the car, more opportunity to change the air pressure. You will get better as the day goes on. I will tell you at the fall Charlotte race, the last 30 laps, that is as fast as I want to go. I talked to Jimmie Johnson about it and he said the same thing. When that race started, we were slipping and sliding all over the place, by the time that race was over, I mean, my God, it was unbelievably fast. So, I expect to see some of that. I expect to see the track get better. I expect to see the second groove come in. It is a huge problem today, and it is still going to be a problem on Sunday but I think some it will get better."
ON THE NEW FAN AREA: "To be perfectly honest, it is kind of a pain for the competitors, the garage is. You can't get from here to there. God only knows where a restroom is. But garages should be built for the fans in all honesty to inconvenience us a little bit to allow the fans to see what we do and get them closer to us, I am good with it, I think it is fine. I think it is cool that the race tracks are spending money to try to do something neat for the fans. The inconvenience it causes us, we are going to complain about it, because that is what we do but, at the end of the day, it is the best thing to do for the sport, it is the best thing to do for the fans.
Daytona and here (LVMS) by far have the best fan infield experience there is no question about it. I think we will see more of it. I think we will see it continue to grow and have different ideas. Here you have the people from the top, people from the side, people tapping on the class. I said to Scott Miller a little while ago, the only difference between me and the fish I have at home is these guys aren't throwing food in the water. That is what it is like, you have people looking at you from the side, tapping on the glass, but it is cool. It is a neat deal, it is fun for the fans and that makes it good."
ON DIFFICULTY LEVEL OF GETTING HANDLING RIGHT WITH SO MUCH CHANGE, COT COMING ON, NEW TRACK SURFACES, ETC. "I suspect that our cars drive better when they are driving bad than they did in the '80s at any point. The worse the cars handle and the more diversity you have in race track and race car designs, the more it is important that when you get in the car you know what you are looking for and what to expect. The more that is thrown at you, the more important that becomes. If we ran the same race track every week, with the same race car every week, we would have a much more clear picture of what was going to happen, we don't have that today because we are running the Car of Tomorrow at Bristol, we go to new race tracks, we have different tires, we have a lot going on. That makes it important for everyone to be on the ball. Not just the driver, but the engineering staff, and the crew chiefs.
You really have to be open-minded in what you are trying to do. Because we had something worked last week, we can't say that same thing is going to work here, it is so different. We have to be quick on our feet, that is the way I like to describe it, to know when we have to move and when we don't need to more. I think that when the more variables are thrown at us, the more important that becomes."
ON MARK MARTIN CHANGING MIND ABOUT RUNNING A FULL SCHEDULE: "I know that Mark Martin truly wants to have a relaxing end of his career. Where he can do it on his terms, when he wants to do it, where he wants to do it and how he wants to do it. That is very clear to me. What isn't clear to me, and I know him pretty well, is that when it comes down to it, not going to Bristol is going to be harder than what he thinks it is going to be. As things get closer, how he responds to that will determine what he is going to do. I have had conversations with him as well and he has been emphatic with me as well that he is not going to run the full season, that he doesn't want to run the full season, he is having more fun than he has ever had in his life. He is honestly happier than I have ever seen him. He calls me and sounds like a teenage schoolgirl. (LAUGHS) It is kind of sickening you know, to be honest. He is happier than I have ever seen him, he is a better mood than I have ever seen him, he is really relaxed, and he is very calm. You think about it at the banquet, back in December, when he got up to talk, I looked at my wife and asked 'who in the hell is that'. That wasn't Mark Martin. He is at a place in his deal where he is really relaxed, really comfortable. You don't understand, when this race is over, it is over for everybody that is watching it, it is over for you guys, it is not over for us. All it does is start a new week of worry about what is going to happen or what just happened. When you do that for a long period of time, it is a grind.
"We ran a fourth in California, I was fairly happy with that. I was a little upset at myself after the race, for 12 days all I was worrying about was how we could have won and are we going to win here, you don't walk away from it. Mark's personality is that he is a very obsessive kind of a person and he can't just let it go. The only way he can let it go is to walk away from it. No matter what he says, he can't not do it. It is really difficult living this life. It is not about the sponsor calling you and saying why didn't you win? It is not about the media saying why didn't you win? It is about you. You wake up in the middle of the night thinking about this stuff, you go to sleep thinking about; you wake up in the morning thinking about it. The only way a guy like him can get away from that is to get away from it. So that will be why he doesn't go to Bristol.
"The personal question for Mark is going to be, does he want to get back in to that routine. Right now he has a hole in the wall, he has a break coming. He is going to be lying on the couch, taking a nap, watching us run Bristol. That is a break and that allows him to be better this weekend because he is more relaxed because he knows he has a mental break coming. He has been really firm about that so it should be interesting. At this point he has almost convinced me he isn't going to run, almost, but not totally convinced."
ON DALE, JR. ABILITY TO REBOUND AND DISTRACTIONS: "Every body is different but there is no question that off-track distractions can lead in to can bleed in to performance, there is no question.
"When everybody on the team is not 100% committed to the task at hand and there is something gnawing in the background, it can be a distraction. Now some people can do that better than others. Some people can have all kinds of things going on and not bother them and other people can't. As seen by me, nothing has happened at DEI the first two races, that has anything to do with Junior's saying things have to change or I am leaving. He broke and engine and he got in to a wreck that wasn't his fault. What could he have done different in those two races. For me, I just don't see how that had anything to do with the first two races. Dale Jr. is not the first one after the first two or three races to be 40th in points - news break, news flash. I know that is a huge surprise to everyone but being 40th in points doesn't' t mean you can't win the championship. If you are 40th in points two races in the season, it is what it is. That team was going to run well at California, they were good in practice. They didn't run as good at Daytona as they needed to. But if they are going to run well at the California's and these kinds of tracks, they are going to be fine. Truex ran well there. I know it is Junior and that requires some kind of attention because it is Junior but he ain't the first one to be 40th after two weeks.
"I am second and worried about top-35 in points. It is a reality of our sport. If you look at what is going on in our sport right now today and if you don't have an appreciation for how hard it is to get in the races if you aren't in the top-35, then you are oblivious to the facts. Anyone that is involved in our in our sport is looking at that right now saying, good grief, we have got to be in the top-35. If you are outside of it, it is nagging you. If you are in it, it is nagging you. If you are 25th or second, it is nagging you. I am just telling you It is the most difficult it has ever been to make these races, that is just how it is.
"You guys are making way to much out of where points are being two races in to this deal, other than not being in the top-35. Listen, you can go into this race leading the points and leave here 20th. You can go into this race 40th in points and leave here 20th. It is two races in to the year. There is no question there are three races left before we switch over to this years' standings. So there is no question you need to be in the top-35 in points and there is no question that first is better than 30th. All that is obvious. I don't care where you are in the points today, if you have been able to make every race, you still have a chance to win the championship. That is just how it is."
-credit: gm racing