This Week in Ford Racing November 4, 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 CITGO Taurus, goes into this weekend's Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 at North Carolina Speedway in 13th-place in the NASCAR Winston Cup point...
This Week in Ford Racing
November 4, 2003
NASCAR Winston Cup
Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 CITGO Taurus, goes into this weekend's Pop Secret Microwave Popcorn 400 at North Carolina Speedway in 13th-place in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings. Burton, who has one series win at Rockingham, was this week's guest on the weekly teleconference, along with crew chief Paul Andrews.
PAUL ANDREWS, Crew Chief - No. 99 CITGO Taurus - YOU GUYS MUST BE LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING BACK TO VICTORY LANE SOON.
"Oh yeah, we sure are. We had a really good run at Rockingham last year at this time. The first race this year we didn't have any race practice and didn't have a very good run, but we still finished OK. Jeff runs very well at Rockingham and with our good run at Darlington this last race, we're pretty excited about going there. Those tracks are real similar. They both eat up tires and that's all part of it. We're excited about that we're excited about going to Homestead with the new configuration. We've heard lots of good things. It's a real smooth track and we're excited to get there Wednesday and see how it is."
WHAT IS ROBBIE REISER GOING THROUGH THIS WEEKEND TO TRY AND CLINCH THE TITLE THIS WEEKEND?
"Well, with this lead he's got going on, hopefully nothing. (laughing) I'm sure he's a little tense, but that whole group has done a fantastic job all year long and they just need to go there and do what they've always done. I think he has to finish sixth to clinch it 100 percent, even if Junior wins, so he's in good shape. He has no problems at all."
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO RUN GOOD AT ROCKINGHAM?
"As usual, at Rockingham with the grip it's so important to keep your car good in the long run. You always have some green-flag runs there and I think it's important to have a really speedy car throughout a long green run. That's what we've got to look for. We've got to have just a really good car. We've got to qualify good. We've got to have some good track position, but so many people get off on their setup if you have a good car and start mid-pack, you're still gonna be OK."
HOW DO YOU KEEP A TEAM PUMPED UP WITH TWO RACES TO GO?
"Speaking of next season, we've been looking at next season for well over a month - working on things to try and make them better. As far as right now, we definitely don't want to lose sight of this year. There are two good races to go. We just had a good race this past weekend. We had a lot of bad luck during the race, but that's what keeps people going. They can see that things are still going in the right direction and still making progress. We've had some slumps here. Atlanta was not a good race for us, but to back that up with a good run at Phoenix was pretty exciting. That's what keeps people going. Always showing the promise to win is a good motivator in itself."
WHAT DOES JEFF MEAN WHEN HE REFERS TO IMPROVING THE BIG-TRACK PROGRAM?
"California and Michigan, especially now that we've got two California races, those weren't bad. Those were OK, but they were mediocre top 10s. We want to be a little bit better. I think the mile-and-a-halves is our biggest problem - Kansas, Chicago. Although we had a great run at Chicago, we had a bad run at Kansas. Those are the ones we've been really inconsistent, but it's not clear-cut black and white either. We definitely need to improve our two-mile program and we need to help out our mile-and-a-half program a lot. That's probably our biggest weakness. We've got to qualify better and we've got to race better at the mile-and-a-halves."
IF FORD GETS THE NEW CYLINDER HEAD APPROVED, WILL THAT HELP ON THOSE TRACKS?
"Even if it wouldn't help, there's absolutely nobody that would say it wasn't gonna help. (laughing). Yeah, more horsepower is always a plus. When you're down on horsepower, as a driver you have to overdrive the car to try to make up for it. Sometimes you absolutely can't do that. If we get a little more horsepower, it'll let the drivers drive the car the way they need to and that alone is gonna help the whole program for sure."
HOW WILL THE GUYS ON THE 6 AND 21 ACCEPT THIS CREW CHIEF CHANGE?
"You can't make everybody happy all time. I'm sure there are probably a couple of guys that it didn't set well with, but as long as there is an improvement I think everybody is gonna be happy. That's what the goal is to try and have an improvement for both teams - not just the 6, but to try to improve the 6 and the 21. I think it'll be fine. I think the guys will welcome the change. Most people do welcome a change when you haven't been as successful as you want to be, so I think it will be good."
YOU WERE THE CREW CHIEF FOR ALAN KULWICKI. DO YOU NOTICE ANY SIMILARITIES BETWEEN ALAN AND MATT?
"The one thing I've noticed - I don't know why it is - they're both pretty low-key drivers. They're not in the media a lot. They start the race and they'll either start mid-pack or Alan was pretty good at getting some poles, but for the most part he would start in the top 15. That's where Matt is a lot. Throughout most of the race you really don't even see him. When it gets toward the end of the race, whether it's 100 laps to go or 100 miles to go, the next thing you know there he is in the top five and going stronger. That's the thing that sticks out to me as far as the most similar thing between the two of them. Why that is, I don't know. I don't know if that's because they're both from Wisconsin or not. It's kind of hard to say."
IS THERE SOMETHING ABOUT MIDWEST RACING THAT WOULD DEVELOP THAT STYLE?
"There are a lot of short track races up there. When I was racing in the Wisconsin area, you could pretty much run seven nights a week, so you really had to take care of your stuff throughout the week. Maybe that was part of it. Most short-track racers don't have a lot of cars and don't have a lot of money, so taking care of your car so you can go to the next track the next night may have been a big part of it and maybe that was part of the key. I'm really not sure, but that would make sense to me."