An interview with: Jeff Burton, Dave Blaney And Carl Edwards
KERRY THARP: We welcome Jeff Burton. Jeff, talk about your run out there today. Certainly you were on the verge of getting a victory, but runner-up finish here this afternoon.
JEFF BURTON: Well, I don't know whether to be excited or upset. After the year we've had, it's good to be in position to win a race. Obviously Clint and I worked really well together the whole race. Had some good luck along the way. Whenever you leave here not wrecked, you ought to be happy. At the same time I'm heartbroke we didn't win the race. It would have been a big deal for us to get a win, would have been a great deal to Caterpillar, all our supporters.
Having said all that, I don't know what I would have done different. Clint and I finished first and second in one of the Duel races in Daytona. I won that one. It was really close. Then honestly I thought he made his move a little too early. I kind of gave him the bottom because you tend to be able to pull them back better. He made his move really early.
I thought I'd be able to pull back to him. He had a lot of momentum when he made the move. His car was a little quicker throughout the day, that's why we ended up with him pushing me. When I was pushing him, we weren't as good together.
Nonetheless, it was a good finish for us. Again, I'd be interested in watching the replay, see what I could have done different. These races, it's really hard to hold that guy off when he's coming. We've seen that every time. I thought I did what I needed to give myself a shot to win and at the end of the day it didn't work out.
KERRY THARP: We'll take questions for Jeff Burton.
Q. Jeff, you and Clint seemed to take the strategy of, Let's go ahead and run up front as much as we can today, while so many other tandems laid way back. Did you expect to see them sooner or later? Were you surprised not to see some of the Chasers who had been laying back?
JEFF BURTON: I thought they waited too long. That next to last caution came out I thought that saved them. I thought that gave them a chance.
Having said that, that's all in retrospect. I wasn't thinking during the race, They're waiting too long. When that caution came out, Clint and I were where we wanted to be to win the race. I didn't think any of those guys were going to be a factor. You're always looking at what's coming behind you.
At the end of the day, that strategy didn't work today. I've seen it work. It worked here in the spring. I've seen it work. I'm much happier when it doesn't work because I prefer to run in the front. I'm not being critical of anybody. I don't blame them, especially when it works. We've seen races won here by people pulling that strategy. It just didn't work out today. But I've seen it work both ways.
Q. On the last lap, did you pretty much figure when y'all broke away for the last lap that he was going to make a move?
JEFF BURTON: I was going down the back straightaway, talking on the radio: I bet you're thinking about what you're going to do right now. I was going to ask him to give an old man a break, but I knew better than that.
But, yeah, I knew he was going to make a move. He was supposed to make a move. He ain't supposed to push me to the win. He's supposed to go and try to win. That's what you get here. If there's those two cars leading everybody, you're going to get that move. Like we saw in the Truck race yesterday, a guy with nowhere to go, he's going to push somebody to win because that gives him the best chance to get a good finish. The way this worked out we have broken off from everybody.
Q. When you appeared to get into him a little bit there, was that a matter of trying to hold position or purely accidental?
JEFF BURTON: I was trying to get my left front fender to his right rear quarter panel to slow him up. We all do that. I got a little closer than I wanted to and knocked him around a little bit.
That wouldn't have been good if he would have wrecked, would it? I was trying to get as close to him as I could get his momentum slowed down. I got him slowed down, but a little too late.
KERRY THARP: Let's also hear from the other drivers here on the podium. Our third-place finisher Dave Blaney. Dave, you showed you were very strong out there this afternoon.
DAVE BLANEY: It was a great run. Obviously we have to thank Brad Keselowski, stayed with us all day long every lap. When you get somebody committed to you no matter what, it makes it a lot easier. Then it's just timing at the end. Worked out pretty good. We were in the right place at the right time, squeezed through a couple holes, there you are.
But still a solid day. We had a really solid day going here in the spring, too. Didn't quite make it to the end. Really fun day for Tommy Baldwin Racing, Golden Corral.
KERRY THARP: Our points leader is Carl Edwards. Carl now has a 14-point lead over his teammate Matt Kenseth. Carl, talk about getting that points lead back up there and also the race here this afternoon at Talladega.
CARL EDWARDS: I don't know that I've ever been excited about 11th place. This race was one that is nerve-wracking for everyone. We came in here with a small points lead and we're leaving with a bigger one. That's a huge day for us.
I cannot believe how much Greg helped us today. I owe him a lot. Greg stuck with me all day. The last lap, he was driving my car from back there. We got separated. He was screaming, Go, go, go. Then somehow he found me again, pushed us back up through there a little bit.
Just a very, very good day. Just really appreciate Subway being onboard. Good to get them a good finish. Even though it's not a win, it's a big battle in the war, a huge day for us.
KERRY THARP: We'll continue with questions.
Q. You said you did everything that you could coming off of turn four. Would you have done anything different if that hadn't been your teammate? Would you maybe not have been as nice?
JEFF BURTON: Hell, I didn't think I was nice.
No. I mean, obviously I'd do something different now if I knew it wasn't going to work. But I did everything I thought I needed to do. It just didn't work out.
I try really hard to race everybody the same. I don't know what else I could have done, whether it was a teammate or not. I actually ended up getting into him. So I don't think there was anything different I could have done.
Q. Carl, given the dynamics of Talladega, is the best you can hope for here to work with a teammate as best you can, like Greg, and basically pray that nothing happens?
CARL EDWARDS: Yes, it's a very spiritual event (smiling).
You just have to hope that the guy sticks with you. Yeah, I don't know how to describe it to you guys. You were asking Jeff if he would have done anything different. Everybody leaves this race and thinks of a hundred thousand things they could have done different. It's a tough, tough race. If you finish it with your car intact...
JEFF BURTON: You feel damn lucky (laughter).
CARL EDWARDS: ...you feel like you got away with something.
Q. To pile on about things that could have been done differently, Carl, do you think in retrospect, did you and Greg wait too late to start to come to the front? Is it fine as it turned out?
CARL EDWARDS: Hell, no, Ed. We did it perfectly. It worked out great. If you look at the things that could have happened or should have happened, we probably should have had a couple green-white-checkereds the way people were bouncing off each other. If I had it to do to do over again, I would do it exactly the same. It could be better or worse. At the end of the day we had a shot at it. Our car was intact. We could drive up there. That was our mission.
But, yeah, if I would have known it went exactly like it went... I'm not even going to say that. It went well for us. It was good.
Q. Carl, is your heart still pumping? Is the adrenaline still flowing? Are you happy to be out of that car and getting back to normal? Jeff, will you reflect on RC's hundredth win?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah, I've never been so excited to go to Martinsville in my life. I'm ready to rock.
JEFF BURTON: Driving for Richard has been a pleasure. I have a lot of respect for Richard. I've only had three car owners in my Cup career. All three of them I have a lot of respect for. To be able to be at Richard's has meant a lot to me.
When I came in, it was a struggle. They were struggling. It's been built back up to be able to contend for championships. We haven't won any, but we've been contending for them.
He's a good man. I like him. I'm comfortable with him. You can say anything about him as far as a competitor. He is a supreme competitor. The main thing is he's a good person. He's got a good heart. He's honest. He represents our sport. He doesn't always do the right thing. None of us always do the right thing. But he generally has a care and a passion for the sport. It's an honor to drive for him.
Q. Carl, your drafting day, was it kind of a building process? Seemed for the first half of the race you two had a difficult time staying together. There was a point at which it looked like you switched positions and you pushed. There was one time when you lost Greg and it looked like Trevor Bayne picked you up.
CARL EDWARDS: There were times when we kind of did our own separate things. But our plan was always to be within sight and come back and work together at the end. We knew we could only do that if our cars were together.
It is easy to look at the outcome of the race. I kind find joked around with Ed when he asked. Say, Wow, you finished 11th. If you went sooner, you would have finished better. I still believe the plan we had worked out well. I'm happy with the outcome. If you can't look at it from my perspective, 2008 we came in here, I think Ed brought that one up earlier, came in here and I was ultimately frustrated with myself for taking myself out at this race. That was my first goal, not to take myself out. I was prepared to lose the points lead, but I wasn't going to accept making a mistake and losing control of my car.
Q. Carl, there was much made before the race about the Ford edict, Roush Fenway, to all stay together, the manufacturer loyalty. Jeff Gordon was displeased at the end with Trevor Bayne for leaving him. What do you make of how that transpired? Do you feel the Fords had the plan, stuck together?
CARL EDWARDS: Well, first thing, I don't know what happened with Trevor and Jeff. Trevor is a stand-up guy. I'm sure he did whatever he thought was best.
It's not like we got together and planned to do anything, at least I wasn't part of a plan to make things hard on anyone else. That was not the idea. The plan was that we should stick together as Roush Fenway and as a Ford group and try to help one another the best we can.
I thought we did a good job with that. I saw other teams doing the same thing. But you never know what's going to happen. We didn't think that plan was going to go through to the end. We thought a number of us would be crashed or have trouble or something like that, in which case people would mix up partners and stuff.
Q. Carl, was there a specific reason you asked in the driver meeting about lifting on the last lap?
CARL EDWARDS: Yeah. Thanks for asking. I feel like the biggest risk we have here is what I talked about on Friday, that we have a wreck, then people would come to this conclusion in their mind through whatever, that they're going to stand on the throttle, drive through the wreck, that's the cool or the right thing to do. I feel that's the biggest risk we have, is an accident where a guy is upside down, stopped, something like that, and us as competitors don't really know what point we're racing to.
If we see something like that, I think a lot of folks are reluctant right now in the sport to lift. They think it's cool to stay on the throttle. You can't ask competitors to just quit driving and not try to get everything they can. I hope that NASCAR will kind of clarify that stuff a little more in the future so we don't have a problem because of it.
Q. It may be a case of a lesser of two evils, but what in y'all's minds is the ideal package? The one you have now, the one in the past? What would make the racing better?
JEFF BURTON: I don't think anybody wants to answer that.
I personally think that there is an advantage to the tandem thing. There's some disadvantages to it. The one thing it does do is it does separate the field a little bit. That's not all bad. I've come here for a long time. Every time I come here, I'm pretty sure I'm going to get in a wreck. That's a little odd way to race.
To me the tandem thing creates wrecks. But overall I think there's less cars wrecked because of the tandem thing versus not having it. So I think overall it's better. It does spread the pack out a little bit. But it doesn't do it in a way that's boring. The other way to spread the pack out is to make the cars drive bad and the fans aren't going to like that.
To me this accomplishes a little bit of spreading the pack out without making the racing boring. Because of that I think they ought to keep it the way it is and not hamper our ability to tandem draft because it doesn't hurt the quality of racing.
I was fortunate to run in the front all day. There was a lot going on in the front. I don't know why, if you watched that race, how any part of that race was boring. That's just my opinion.
Q. Jeff, been a tough year, really tough year.
JEFF BURTON: For you or me (laughter)?
Q. When you're leading coming to the checkered like that, you got a guy behind you that's your teammate, are you happy to be sitting in here with a good finish, not stuffed in a wall? Are you livid that you lost? Is it any worse because of who beat you and how?
JEFF BURTON: Well, I'm pissed off and I'm happy all at the same time if there is such a thing. Anytime you come here and you can get a top 10, have a car that's not torn up, you have to at least be somewhat happy with that.
However, to come that close and to lose it is disheartening. It's always worse to lose 'em close. But it's a lot better being in a position. To be perfectly frank about it, since the first race at Phoenix, we haven't been in position to win a race. We haven't sniffed it. That is awful. It's terrible to come to the racetrack week in, week out. You come optimistic, you leave dejected.
At least today the dejection is about having a good finish and not finishing it off. Of course, I'm going to go home and watch the video a thousand times and wonder what I could have done different. But I'm heartbroken, but at the same time I'm happy if there is such a thing.
Q. Carl, with you and Matt out front 1-2, it's not a very big points lead, but do you look at this thing and say, At least Roush Fenway Racing can almost kind of take a breath here and say that we're in pretty good shape?
CARL EDWARDS: No, no. That would be nice. I'd love that. We'd have to have a hundred-point lead to take a breath. Anything can happen.
I'm proud of our team, where we've come from, how far we've come in the last 18 months. It's unbelievable. It's a testament to how hard everyone's willing to work, how much responsibility everyone's willing to take for the things we needed to fix.
We're doing well. It's fun. I'm a little nervous about Matt, honestly, 'cause I know how good he is and how good his team is. Having him in second doesn't make me breathe easier competitive-wise.
Q. You said in January you felt better going into this year than you did at the end of '08. Has it panned out that way or would you have needed more wins? Is it coming true?
CARL EDWARDS: I still feel we're performing better because we're a better team now. I feel like now we are a better team than we were in 2008. I feel we're fast for reasons that are more fundamental reasons. We have better engines, our engineering is better, our cars are better. We don't just have a trick, a skewed rear-end housing, a new car we figured out quick or something like that. I feel like we are competitive week in and week out.
Even when we have a bad day, it always seems that one of our teammates runs really well and we have someone we can lean on. I still feel better about this year than 2008. Just glad to be in the position I'm in. It's amazing to drive these Fords right now for Jack. It's a lot of fun.
Q. Dave, could you talk a little bit about what that means for Tommy Baldwin Racing, what it means for you going forward with this finish?
DAVE BLANEY: Well, it's huge for a race team. It's a tiny little team. This racecar we've got, it was a Bill Davis car 2007, 2008. It's not a killer. It's a big, big accomplishment for us to come out.
This is a track you can do this. You can't hang in all day. With Brad Keselowski's help we could hang in all day and took advantage of getting a big push at the right time. That's what it comes down to here, having a car that will roll the last couple laps to do that. It all just worked out.
Q. Dave, with this tandem racing, it does get strung out a little bit. Were you surprised that Clint and Jeff were able to scoot away as big as they did in that one lap? How did that happen? You were the closest one that could have possibly seen them.
DAVE BLANEY: I don't really know how it happened. I believe I started 14th and Brad was 15th on that green-white-checkered. I didn't see how the top five, what happened to them in the first corner. I have no idea. But that was odd to see them get that far away that quick. That is obviously what made it a different kind of race. Like Jeff said, exciting racing, whether it's tandem or packs, stressful on the drivers, exciting for the fans.
Q. Dave, do you feel any better after the April race here? You also were in a position for a nice day and didn't get it in the end through no fault of your own.
DAVE BLANEY: I was happy how we ran that day. Didn't work out, didn't get the finish. Performed well. Hung in there all day. Same thing today. Yeah, you feel great when you get the finish out of it.
But, again, just really happy for Golden Corral. I think the spring race here might have been the first or second race, they just started up with us. Stayed with us all year. Lets us race more than we could without them. Just legitimizes Tommy Baldwin's team more and more, see where we can go.
KERRY THARP: Dave, Jeff and Carl, congratulations on an outstanding performance here this afternoon.