JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed racing at Martinsville, changes in pit crews at RCR, thoughts on remainder of Chase and other topics. TALK ABOUT YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT...
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed racing at Martinsville, changes in pit crews at RCR, thoughts on remainder of Chase and other topics.
TALK ABOUT YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT RACING AT MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY: "Certainly for me, is an important race for a lot of reasons. We have got ourselves in a position we don't want to be in the Chase thing for sure. But, this is an important race. It means a great deal to me and we feel like we have some unfinished business from the spring. For us, we feel like this creates an opportunity."
TUMS, THE RACE SPONSOR, IS HAVING A DESIGNATED MEMBER FROM EACH CREW TO START THE RACE SUNDAY, YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE INVOLVEMENT OF THE CREW: "It is cool. It is cool that the crew members are recognized. They work so hard and put a lot of effort in. Obviously, the drivers get a tremendous amount of notoriety and attention, but the crew guys put a lot of work in. Every person's effort is important and it is always cool when they get recognized."
BIG STORY OF KASEY KAHNE CHANGING TEAMS EARLY, YOU WENT THROUGH THAT SEVERAL YEARS AGO, HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE YOU AS A DRIVER TO GET FULLY UP-TO-SPEED AND FULLY COMFORTABLE WITH A NEW TEAM? "I think the best thing is for practice to start. When that thing starts, the best way I know how to describe it, is when the buzz starts, it is like there is so much attention, there is so much anxiety, there's no way that people leave each other without there being hard feelings. Without there being pressure obviously to different degrees. You want to watch what your old team is doing. You want to make sure you are doing better than them. Everybody is going to be comparing. There is a lot of buzz that goes on around that. The best thing is when practice and you can get in the car and now start focusing on the performance. The questions begin to go away and the thought process is beginning to go away about the transition. Now, it is no longer a transition, you are doing it. It is a real stressful time. I honestly believe that for the Red Bull group in particular, it is a great opportunity for them to start working. I'm not sure how it benefits the other group, but for the Red Bull group, it certainly puts them in position to get five races under their belt and go into the Daytona 500 without the buzz. Now you are going into the Daytona 500, you are already a race team. You are already a group. You are already together and I think that makes that transition a lot easier for Kasey. He has another one coming. You know, he's got another one coming at the end of next year. I think it is a big, big advantage for those guys."
HOW IMPORTANT IS IT FOR A DRIVER AND A CREW CHIEF LONG TERM TO BE ABLE TO BE JUST DEAD-ON EACH TIME THEY MAKE A DECISION ON PIT ROAD. HOW IMPORTANT IS THE COMMUNICATION, ESPECIALLY BEING IN THE CHASE? "I think it is crucial. I think you have to have faith in each other. I think that at the end of the day, if you don't trust each other and don't know that each of you is capable and has the right intentions, then it can't work. I think that communication and that trust is invaluable. There is no way to have success if you don't trust each other."
ARE YOU LOOKING AHEAD NOW TO 2011 EVEN THOUGH YOU ARE IN THE CHASE? ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED? ARE YOU HAPPY? "I'm both. I see a lot of bright spots. I see a tremendous amount of promise. But, I also see a lot of missed opportunities and a lot of disappointments. I have to tell you, everybody knows me, I kind of tell you the way I feel. I'm as disappointed right now about this Chase as I was when we came here leading the points and broke an engine the year I thought we had a really good shot to win the thing and this race really, really hurt us. I am real disappointed that we haven't been able to put five races together that I feel like we are capable of putting together. Our season, I don't care what anybody says, is defined by the numbers. The numbers is a story that is deeper than the numbers. But at the end of the day, the numbers are the numbers. When it was time to get it done, we didn't get it done and I'm shocked about that, I really am. I really believed we were poised to make a solid run and I am confused and disappointed all at the same time. I'm not disappointed in the effort. I'll tell you that my team has done, I couldn't ask my team to do any more from a preparation standpoint and from an effort standpoint. I'm telling you, that makes it even that much more disappointing."
KEVIN HARVICK WAS IN EARLIER AND SAID RICHARD (CHILDRESS) MADE SOME HUGE CHANGES THIS WEEK REGARDING HIS PIT CREW, DOES THAT INVOLVE TAKING ANYONE FROM THE NO. 31 AND THE NO. 33 AND IS THAT WHAT RCR HAS TO DO AT THE HALF-WAY POINT OF THE CHASE? "I'm not 100% sure what the changes were as it pertained to the No. 29. I know that the No. 29 and the No. 31 have not had good pit stops all year. It's been a weak point for both teams. There's been a tremendous effort to address it; to get it working better. I know that as we entered the Chase, there was a tremendous effort to take the next step again and for neither team, the results weren't there. Richard indicated to us a couple of weeks ago that as it the Chase continued, and if we had one team that was still available, if we had two teams there had to be something done about shoring that problem up because it was really affecting us in a negative way. So I'm not 100% what the changes are. But, it doesn't surprise me. I know as it relates to the No. 31, there has not been people taken off the No. 31 and applied to the No. 29. I know there has been an effort to make the No. 31 and No. 29 pit stops better. I don't know exactly what the major changes were."
DO YOU SUPPORT THOSE KINDS OF THINGS? "That is a tough one. As a company guy, yes. We have to put three A-team efforts together. In a short-term scenario, when you have one team that has a shot, then it is ok, it's not great, but it is ok to take something from somebody to give to the other on a very very temporary basis. If we ever position ourselves as a company of having an A, B. C team, we have major trouble. I don't want to say it is an act of desperation, but if something like that goes down at our team or any team, it is kind of a sign of 'ok, we've done everything else we know to do, this is all we got'. I don't want to say it is a sign of weakness, but it is a sign of saying we have no choice. That is not the position we want to be in. If the No. 31 isn't in position to win the championship, we have to be willing to do the things, as long as they are ethical, we have to be willing to do the things we need to do to help the No. 29 win the championship which clearly the case we appear to be in."
WHEN THERE IS A ONE VERSUS TWO SHOWDOWN IN SPORTS, PEOPLE GET REAL EXCITED, HERE BECAUSE OF THE WAY JIMMIE (JOHNSON) AND DENNY (HAMLIN) HAVE PERFORMED, IT KIND OF HAS THAT FEEL, DO YOU THINK IT DOES? "They, as of late, have been the two best, there is no doubt in it. They both have an extreme amount of confidence going into the race about their ability. I read some quotes from Denny Hamlin this morning, he pretty much made it clear how confident he was. (LAUGHS) I think it is kind of a shootout. I will say that it is motivation for everyone to go be one of the guys that knocks the two of them off especially at this race. Numbers don't lie and those are the two that have been doing it the best most recently."
IS IT GOOD FOR THE SPORT? "I think it is good for the sport. Anytime you can match the favorites against each other head-to-head, I think that is always good for the sport."
JIMMIE AND DENNY HAVE WON THE LAST EIGHT RACES HERE, BUT AT SOME POINT, EVEN IF THEY BOTH RUN WELL, DON'T DENNY AND KEVIN NEED TO BEAT JIMMIE JOHNSON HERE AT SOME POINT, WHETHER HE IS LEADING BY FOUR POINTS OR 40 POINTS, BECAUSE AS LONG AS HE IS THE GUY IN FIRST, JUST BEING CLOSE DOESN'T REALLY CUT IT? "Points are points. There are five to go. You are going to take all the points you gain over the next five races, add them up to what you have already accumulated and that is going to be the champion. You can run 15th here and still win the championship. There's not something that says the key to winning this championship is you have to beat Jimmie Johnson at Martinsville. Chances are, assuming they don't have a problem, if you beat Jimmie Johnson at Martinsville; you had a good day because they typically have good days here. I see that point. The record book doesn't count up the points and say...it doesn't know if you got points from Martinsville or from Talladega, it is just points."
HOW DO YOU RECONCILE IN YOUR HEAD WHAT JIMMIE HAS BEEN ABLE TO DO? "A lot of people, I think, resent him for it. I think you hear that in people's voices. I have a hell of a lot of respect for what they've done. Don't get me wrong, I wish it me and I wish it was my team, but it's not because they've done a better job. I'm not one of those guys that believes they have lucked into it. I'm not one of those guys that believes all the stars lined up and everything happened just right. I think they went out and won. I have a lot of respect for that. I know how hard it is because I have been trying to do it for 16 years and haven't been able to do it and they've done four in a row. That is an unbelievable feat. Anyone looking at it with anything other than respect, I think, doesn't understand and doesn't give them the due that they deserve. I'm disappointed that I haven't been able to win one yet but that doesn't diminish the fact that they've won four in a row. That makes it even more special to be quite honest."
WITH FIVE RACES TO GO, IS THIS CHAMPIONSHIP A FOREGONE CONCLUSION? "I think it is far from a foregone conclusion. I just don't believe this thing is over by any means. I think there is a lot of racing left to go. A lot of things happen in five races. I just don't see that it is a foregone conclusion by any means. Matter-of-fact, I've been watching it from my perspective, obviously, but when I step back and look at this year in particular, I just think anything can happen. I just don't by any means think it is a foregone conclusion. They are going to be hard to beat. But one race changes many things. There are so many teams still, I know everybody says Jeff Gordon is out and Kyle Busch is out, but you know, you have Martinsville, you have Talladega, you have got Phoenix, you have got some races coming up that stuff happens in. I just don't think by no means is it a foregone conclusion."
-source: gm racing