Martinsville II: Ward Burton press conference

Ward Burton, No. 4 Lucas Oil Products Chevrolet, Press Conference Transcript Ward Burton is a South Boston, Va. native and 2002 Daytona 500 champion. Burton is an 11-year veteran of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. Burton returns this weekend to...

Ward Burton, No. 4 Lucas Oil Products Chevrolet, Press Conference Transcript

Ward Burton is a South Boston, Va. native and 2002 Daytona 500 champion. Burton is an 11-year veteran of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. Burton returns this weekend to join the No. 4 Lucas Oil Products Chevrolet for Larry McClure (Morgan-McClure president and team manager).

ON QUALIFYING THIS WEEKEND IN HIS HOME AREA:

Ward Burton: "Thanks a lot. I was really excited to get the call from Larry (McClure). I've been itching to get back into the sport the last couple months, well actually since January when testing at Daytona started. It's a great opportunity. I've been a huge fan of Chris Carrier (crew chief) for years. We started pretty much in the same background at about the same time, back in the days when we were trying to keep up with Harry Gant in the Busch cars. Larry McClure has got a great success record in the sport. I think we've all been through some of the same things in the past. Today we obviously got to race for Friday and that's what we're concentrating on. We'll make this race today and then tomorrow morning we'll get the race setup in it and we'll start concentrating for Sunday's event."

Larry McClure:

"I just want to say that same thing. We're happy to have him with us and try to get the 4 car qualified Friday. We're glad we have Lucas Oil as our sponsor for the race and we're looking forward for them to being with us next year. We hope to get something for the future for both Ward and Morgan McClure. We appreciate all the love and all the interest and hope you write some good things about us."

Chris Carrier, crew chief: "I think it's a huge opportunity for our race team to be involved with this young man. I say young man because he's the same age as I am. I can just give you an example of the popularity that follows Ward. We did a little bit of testing at Motor Mile Speedway (Radford, Va.) which is really just right down the road on Wednesday. We had a beautiful day and went up there to shake the car down, get our brakes ready for this race Sunday which is always a huge priority for Martinsville. We spent a couple of hours (there) but there were some people in the stands that must have heard on the internet that we were going to be there and Ward was going to be there. Those people had signs made up - Ward Burton fan club - and all this. Those people had driven six and a half hours just to come us watch us test at a short track. I think that speaks for itself. This guy has had success in everything he's done as far as motorsports goes and probably everything else. I know I speak for our race team and the people that work on the cars; we're tremendously excited about this. It's a huge opportunity. I think we're going to have a good day today. When you're around people everyday in a working environment you can recognize energy and excitement. There's a lot of energy and excitement in our race team. The Lucas Oil Products Chevrolet is going to be up front this weekend."

ON HIS BROTHER JEFF BURTON LEADING THE CHASE:

Ward Burton: "Let's see. How do I answer that? RCR and Jeff's team and particularly Jeff have gelled. They are the team to beat. I feel like they are the most consistent team. Once they made the Chase they've had good things go their way but they run really consistent. They earned everything they got. Some of the other things that have happened to the other competitors is kind of out of norm. I feel like it's Jeff's to win or Jeff's to lose. I think it's in his hands and then you've got a little bit of lady luck that you never know about and racing that makes it interesting. The whole family is proud of him. All of the area where he's from is proud of him. My opportunity this weekend is to go racing doesn't have anything to do with (what) the other brother (is) doing. The last thing I need to do this weekend is rub some paint on him and spin him around even though I might probably owe him somewhere down the road (laughs). I don't think we'll do that this weekend. We're here for ourselves and to try to build something for the future and try to have a good time this week and race everybody clean like we normally do and see what we can get out of it."

WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO STAY SHARP IN THE RACE CAR?

Ward Burton: "I'm still on the same physical routine that I've been in. I'm probably down three, four pounds just because I've been into a lot of cardio. I'm still up at 5 a.m. every morning and working out until 6:30 a.m. I do that religiously. I don't even feel right in the morning if I don't have the opportunity to work out. I will say going to the Motor Mile (Speedway) at Radford (Va.) the other day to sink the brakes in after I had finished running the brakes in we ran about two laps. My first conscious thought was why the heck was I not doing this earlier because it felt really good being behind in that race car."

DID YOU SEE ANY RUST OUT THERE?

Chris Carrier - "Yeah, there was a comment. He said 'Shoot, I ain't got no rust on me.' (laughs) I'll be quite honest with you. I was not surprised at all. I know the guy's talent. I know his experience. This is the first time I've had the pleasure of working with him. I've had a lot of days trying to keep up with him competing against him in Busch cars and Cup cars. A lot of people play a big game on the age thing. I don't really buy into that. I think age is what is in your heart and what's in your mind. I know from talking to him, I knew his heart and mind were right on track before he ever got there. He was smooth as silk. One of the other boys made a comment to me. I was watching him making laps there and one of other guys said 'Man, that car just looks like it's in control all the time, not a bobble.' It didn't really surprise. I'll just be honest with you. It was about what I expected. I knew we were going to have something good there. We're looking forward to today. We're going to give him all we can give him as a race team and in the race car. I think this is a good place for this to happen because it's in Virginia. It's at one of the greatest race tracks on the schedule in my opinion. We're looking for a good weekend."

HOW MANY LAPS HAD WARD RUN BEFORE HE MADE THAT COMMENT?

Chris Carrier - "It was the second time out. The first time was basically to bed our brakes in. I'm talking brake rotors and pads that we'll put on Sunday morning to run the brakes. We just wanted to break them in and make sure there were no problems with those parts. Also we had a gear we were doing the same thing with. Brakes and gears are sometimes the weak point here at Martinsville and you have to do all you can to make sure they are durable and make 500 laps. We ran a few laps there just to do that and then we switched brakes, switched gears and sent him out there and said 'You run what you want to run and just get comfortable.' Then that next run he ran about five or six laps which at Motor Mile Speedway doesn't take about a minute. It wasn't very long. Not as long as a good commercial."

LOOKING BACK OVER THE LAST TWO YEARS, DO YOU THINK YOU MADE THE RIGHT DECISIONS?

Ward Burton: "I don't know. I think there were some opportunities that maybe I should have taken or maybe I should not have taken. Not to be short on your question, it's always easy to look back in the past and make a more educated decision but right now we made decision the last week and I feel really good about it. I'm not looking back in the past on what got to this point. I'm just excited about being at this point and focusing on today."

WHAT DO YOU REMEMBER ABOUT YOUR LAST RACE HERE? HOW DIFFICULT WILL IT BE TO QUALIFY HERE?

Ward Burton: "The last three, four, five times here, I think I've been in the top 10 in qualifying if I'm not mistaken. When we started in 31 in '04 and moved to 22 in '95 - we faced the same thing that we're facing today. Back then we used to run I believe 34 cars here and we'd have 50 cars show up. We faced that for two or three or four years. Whatever you qualify whether it was street stock or a Nextel Cup car, you gave it all you got every lap. Today is not going to be any different. You use that pressure as a little bit of an extra incentive, extra focus. We know teams are going to be out there today focusing on their race runs. They don't have to worry about qualifying quite as much as we do. We know what we've got to do. Today we're going after it."

WILL THE SHORTER SPOILERS AND SOFTER TIRES MAKE A BIG DIFFERENCE FOR YOU?

Ward Burton: "I don't think so. I really don't. I think we'll get this race car as good as we can get it. Whether we have a big spoiler or no spoiler at all, that's what we got."

ON WARD'S LAST TIMES RACING AT MARTINSVILLE, HE QUALIFIED IN THE TOP 10 FIVE OUT OF SIX TIMES:

Ward Burton: "That puts some pressure on somebody else doesn't it?

Larry McClure - "We are proud of having Ward in that car. Our car is red and white. It's a Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The last time I was in this room was in '98. We won the race in a Chevy Monte Carlo. We certainly are proud to represent Chevrolet here and proud to have Ward Burton driving that No. 4 Chevrolet Monte Carlo sponsored by Lucas Oil. I'll tell you, this team has been down but we think we're taking the right steps to get our team back up to where it needs to be. Certainly if we have success Ward is going to have success."

HOW MUCH WILL THIS RACE DETERMINE YOUR FUTURE? HOW MUCH IS THIS A PERSONAL TEST?

Ward Burton: "I don't really look at this as a personal test. I feel like I'm going to qualify and race about as good as Chris and I can make the car. The next time we came here we know that the tracks change. We may have the best car, next time we're here we may have a so-so time. That's just racing. I'm not looking at this one race as a meaning to my future. This is one race and that's the way I'm approaching it and I'm not making more out of that."

WOULD YOU ANTICIPATE DOING MORE RACES THIS YEAR?

Ward Burton: "It's a good possibility."  

WOULD YOU DO MORE RACES WITH THE SAME ORGANIZATION?

Ward Burton: "We're talking about it. Right now we're focusing on today. We've been so busy in the last two weeks, it's been day to day. I was actually at an embroidery place getting the suit fixed the last six hours. We've been going pretty hard for the last 10 days."

ON HOW THIS CAME TOGETHER:

Ward Burton: "I'll give you another good example. We're talking about clothes. Guess whose shirt this is? Larry and I talked some last year, probably more me than him on how serious I was about getting ready to get back in the race car. This happened early last week to bring us here today."

THE FANS LOVE YOU. CAN YOU EXPLAIN IT?

Ward Burton: "It might be a little bit of that southern accent. It probably doesn't hurt me a little bit. I don't know. I just feel like when I got into racing full time I had been through quite a bit in my life. I had been to military school. I had been to college. I lived in the woods for two years. I had worked from paycheck to paycheck. I just feel like a normal country boy from Virginia. I never looked at myself as a celebrity and never will. I always wanted to treat people how I wanted to be treated."

ON HIS ACCENT BEING PART OF HIS CHARM. ON WHY HE HAS A VIRGINIA ACCENT AND WHY HIS BROTHER JEFF HAS A NORTH CAROLINA ACCENT?

Ward Burton: "He's a little bit more of polished speaker than I am, for one. There's some speeching schools you can go to. Well somebody said once upon a time that maybe I was brought up in the south end of the house and he was in the north end (laughs). I kind of like that analogy to be honest with you."

DOES IT MAKE YOU MAD THAT PEOPLE SAY THERE'S NOT ENOUGH TALENT OUT THERE?

Ward Burton: "I feel like a lot of times on Sundays, here lately I have been watching the races more intently because of how well Jeff is doing. You can look at those four organizations that's got those two to three teams. You can look at the car and see how they're in the track better than everybody else in the field. I feel like right now today with the generic mile and a half tracks, we have 85 percent car and 15 percent driver. I think there's a lot of talent out here. There's a lot of talent that is not out here, that doesn't have these opportunities. If they could sit in one of those race cars they'd be doing awful good. But yeah, I feel like I'm a waste of talent on Sundays and Sundays sometimes it really brothers me. I'll get out and do something and get outside or whatever. Driving a race car is as easy to me as shooting. It's something that came real natural, something that I like. We also get passion and we do things that come easy to us. Certainly I'm never going to be a golfer and I could care less about riding around in a golf cart or an 18-hole course. I'm not good at either so why would I want to put myself through the time when I don't want to spend the time on a golf course anyway. If it was shooting clay pigeons or something else I picked up pretty quickly, I like doing that because I'm good at it and I can make myself better and racing is the same way."

ON THE MEDIA:

Ward Burton: "I'll say this, the media crowd is a lot of y'all like this young lady in here that looks really good and the rest of you, it still looks the same as it always does (laughs). Thank you all. We'll be talking to you after we make this race today."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton , Harry Gant , Chris Carr
Teams CIP