Michigan II: Pole winner interview

Jeff Burton Takes Pole For Chevy At MIS Capturing his fourth pole of the season, Jeff Burton qualified fastest in his No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS for Sunday's GFS Marketplace 400. His fast time of 38.311 seconds (average ...

Jeff Burton Takes Pole For Chevy At MIS

Capturing his fourth pole of the season, Jeff Burton qualified fastest in his No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS for Sunday's GFS Marketplace 400. His fast time of 38.311 seconds (average speed 187.936 mph) topped Elliott Sadler's time of 38.488 seconds. Kevin Harvick (No. 29 GM Goodwrench Monte Carlo SS) was the second-fastest Chevy driver; he qualified fifth behind Ryan Newman (fourth) and Matt Kenseth (third). The final Chevy driver in the top ten qualified eighth (Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS).

Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Monte Carlo SS - Pole Winner

ON HIS QUALIFYING RUN:

"I'm really excited about that. In qualifying trim and practice we went through (Turns) One and Two really good but in (Turns) Three and Four we had a lot of trouble. Scott (Miller, crew chief) made a bunch of changes to the car so we could make our lap. Kevin (Harvick) qualified just ahead of us. He sent word down to me that the track had a tremendous amount of grip. That helped us a well. I'm proud of that effort because we actually ran faster in race trim than we did in qualifying trim in practice. That's how far off we were in our first runs. We only got through one run and then we made all those changes. I shouldn't say we. They made all those changes. I don't even know what changes they made but it worked."

MATT KENSETH WAS IN HERE EARLIER AND DESCRIBED YOU AS THE ORANGER, SLIMMER VERSION OF RYAN NEWMAN. CAN YOU COMMENT ON THAT?

"Yes, I am oranger and I am slimmer. And we get better reception too (laughs). I don't know what the heck is going on. I really don't. What the heck is going on out there? That's what I feel like. We get done doing my qualifying lap, coming to Turn Four I'm like darn that was a good lap. The car just drives so good and I'm able to be really aggressive with them and I'm real proud of that. On the other hand, we've got to step up our race program a little bit. Indy and Pocono, really the last three races we haven't run as well as we need to run. This feels good and allows us to feel good about ourselves but at the end day we've got to find a way to step our program up. Just based on the last three races, we haven't run as well as we need to. I don't think I've done a good job of feeding them information and we've got to find a way to step it up. That's the boring side of qualifying well. We know the reality of needing to step up that program is there too. Hopefully we can do that Sunday."

ON THE MORALE AT RCR AND DRIVING FOR A TEAM WHERE THE MOOD SEEMS TO BE ELEVATED. YOU'VE WON FOUR POLES. THE ONLY THING YOU HAVEN'T DONE IS WIN A RACE.

"It's good. I was accustom to that. In all honesty, it took us a little while to get all of us on the same page at Childress. That was difficult for me because Mark (Martin) and I and Matt (Kenseth) and I and (Greg) Biffle and I had such a good relationship. We spoke so much about everything. We had to build that here. Kevin (Harvick) and I had to learn to work together. Everybody is still trying to figure out how to work with (Clint) Bowyer (laughs) because he's goofy. It's certified. He's goofy. I really applaud Kevin and I applaud Clint for really opening the door and welcoming me in. Kevin has been there for a long to and suffered through things not going well. He has been as good of a teammate as Matt Kenseth or Greg Biffle or Mark Martin. That's the ultimate compliment. That's as good as it gets. Things are working well. We have to continue to work to make sure they do. I think the thing that really helps is that every team feels like the other teams are giving something. In the past the 29 has been the team that propped everybody up and the 29 was the center of everything because they worked harder. They tried harder. They put more effort in. They had the most talent. I think over time that wore on them because they felt like they were doing all the work. And by the way, they were doing most of the work. Scott and Gill are complimenting and helping the 29 rather than just pulling from them. That's a big part of teamwork. The reason you have teammates is because you believe ultimately you are best served by helping your teammates because if you're helping them you're getting help back and you always get more back. But if you're always giving then I think that doesn't work. In the past the 29 has been the givers. They gave way more than they took."

IS QUALIFYING SOMETHING YOU CAN TEACH YOURSELF OR LEARN OVER THE YEARS?

"I think that you can learn at anything. There is a technique of qualifying. There are things that I do differently today that I didn't do two years that I think helped me become a better qualifier. Ultimately though the cars have a huge role in that. The whole key to all of this stuff is if you have good cars then you can learn how to do it. If you don't have good cars then you're always searching. I got really bad at it because I was trying too hard. But I've learned when I get in the car how to be a better qualifier. Again the cars I'm driving today are superior to what I've driven in the last three years."

ON ATTITUDE AND CONFIDENCE:

"The attitude is important. In this sport you've heard me say this many times, I think arrogance and confidence are greatly confused in this sport. I think confidence is an earned and arrogance is something you wake up with. I don't assume that we're going to qualify well but I expect that we're going to qualify well because we've been qualifying well. I don't know if that makes any sense to you guys. Confidence builds confidence. If we aren't doing well and you have confidence that's arrogance. It's not confidence. My father and I have had this discussion many times. He'd call me and say 'You're a good qualifier.' I was like 'I am?' He said 'You can qualify. The cars you are driving are crap.' But my dad thinks I'm good at everything. I think that certainly the more you do well at something the more confidence you gain in it. Then your expectations are higher. That's the one thing that we have worked hard on is raising the expectation. Let's not go to the race track and think we're going to qualify 30th. Let's go to the race track and think we'll qualify in the top 10. Let's build a higher expectation level."

HOW WAS THE CAR IN PRACTICE AND WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR CHANCES ARE ON SUNDAY?

"We had one qualifying run. The rest of it was race stuff. We took off. We were very fast but way too loose and tight at the same time. We were trying some pretty different setup stuff. Once we got that normal setup package in it, we were decent but not great. We have to make some improvements but we have what we believe to be some good directions to go in. We work on Fridays to learn so we can apply what we learned on Sunday and Saturday. If what we think we learned we really learned then I feel real good about it but we won't really know that until practice starts. It looks a little iffy tomorrow with rain. If it does rain then we've got some ideas of what we want to do on our car. I feel pretty good about it but not great."

JACK ROUSH ALWAYS SAID THAT HE NEVER WORRIED ABOUT WHERE YOU QUALIFIED BECAUSE HE ALWAYS KNEW YOU WOULD BE UP AT THE FRONT. CAN YOU AFFORD TO DO THAT ANYMORE WITH THIS CLOSE COMPETITION TODAY?

"I think if you have a fast car, you have a fast car. It is harder today and it takes longer to get to the front but if you have a mediocre car and you qualify well, I think it helps you. If you have a mediocre car and you qualify 40th, I think that hurts you. There are advantages in qualifying well. I swear the biggest advantage is the pit stall. That's the biggest advantage. That's bigger than anything else in my opinion is being able to pick that first pit stall."

CAN YOU EXPAND ON YOUR COMMENT EARLIER ABOUT DOING THINGS DIFFERENT IN QUALIFYING THAN YOU DID TWO YEARS AGO?

"No, I can't. I had some things that I've done. I have some things that my team has done. I have put a tremendous amount of effort into it. My team has put a tremendous amount of effort into it. Those things we're going to keep to ourselves. That's as simple as I can put it."

-credit: gm racing

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Elliott Sadler , Mark Martin