JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Talladega Superspeedway and discussed Sunday's Talladega race, racing at Martinsville, Carl Edward's move at Kansas and other topics. TALK ABOUT YOUR OUTLOOK AND APPROACH TO...
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Talladega Superspeedway and discussed Sunday's Talladega race, racing at Martinsville, Carl Edward's move at Kansas and other topics.
TALK ABOUT YOUR OUTLOOK AND APPROACH TO SUNDAY'S TALLADEGA RACE: "It is Talladega; I think it is clear that anything can happen here. Whenever I come here, I do my best not to start the wreck and therefore hope I am not in it. Chances are that this will be a big race for us who are racing for the championship. One of the things that is interesting here is you can run really well and finish 28th. You can be in the lead pack, make one wrong move or get shuffled out with two to go and cross the start/finish line in the lead pack and have a 28th place finish. It is a hugely challenging race track. I think it is going to be pretty entertaining. I don't think we are going to see a tremendous amount of patience. I think there we are getting to the point in the year when people have a lot to prove and a lot to gain. I think we will see a race that is run a little more aggressively than we have seen these last two races."
CAN YOU DROP BACK AND GET OUT OF A BIG PACK EARLY IN THE RACE? "I find it interesting, some people drop back and run like 10 car lengths behind the wreck, I am not sure that makes any sense. If you are going to drop back, you have to drop back. I don't think you can just be 10 car lengths behind the big pack and think you are doing yourself a lot of good. I am not going to go in to this race with a race decision of just riding around in the back. If things start to get what I believe to be out of hand and I start to think that something is getting ready to happen, I might move myself out. I have seen that work a few times but I have seen it not work more times than I have seen it work. For me, I would rather be in there and understand what my car can and can't do and try to learn. I think it is important to understand it is a 500-mile race and you can be running 30th with 100 to go and still win the race. Track position is not as important here as it is everywhere else we go. I think you'll see some people drive accordingly. We have seen it every race and I think you will see it here as well. I don't anticipate doing that."
IS MARTINSVILLE AS WILDCARD RACE AS WELL? "It is a tough race track. Again, we are going to have a race that stuff is going to happen. Stuff is going to happen to Chase contenders this weekend and stuff is going to happen to Chase contenders at Martinsville, I can almost guarantee it. I don't know who it is going to be, but I can almost guarantee it is going to be some of us. Again, Martinsville is one of those places if you get back a little bit, it is hard to pass. If you are in a car that is not handling very well, it is hard to cover it up. Some of the bigger race tracks, it is a little easier to find a place and not hide, but kind of find a way to race by yourself and not worry about the competition. You can't do that at Martinsville. I think it is a race track will be a huge barometer on who can win the championship, I really do. I think as tight as things are, one bad race or a series of bad races could certainly take you out of it. Certainly for the guys that are toward the back, even where we are, we are fourth, but we are over 100 points back, we can't afford bad races."
IS TALLADEGA A RACE IN YOUR PERSONAL OPINION THAT SHOULD BE IN THE CHASE? "My theory on races that ought to be in the Chase, I think it ought to be representative of the regular season. The example of that that I give is roadcourse racing. A lot of people say, 'Hey, we ought to have a roadcourse in the Chase'. I disagree with that because if we had two roadcourses races and one of them was in the Chase, 50% of the races of the races would be represented in the Chase. We run three regular season superpspeedway points-paying races so I believe it is fair to have one of these to be in the Chase."
DO YOU THINK YOU ARE JUST FLYING UNDER THE RADAR AS A CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDER? "There is no question that the guys that are in the front right now have shown the most strength up to this point. There is also no question that is not always going to be the same. They don't give the check and the trophy until the last race. If they gave it prior to the Chase, they would have just given it to Kyle Busch. A lot is going to happen. We are 30% in to this thing, I hear it in voices, there is a tremendous amount of confidence. I can already hear it in Greg's (Biffle) voice; he has a tremendous amount of confidence right now and rightfully so. It only takes one mistake, one bad pit stop, one engine problem, one bad race where you don't run well to completely change the rules. It is what it is. There is not a team in the Chase, nor is there a team in the field, that is immune to having bad races. I can assure you, and by the way, there is not a team In the Chase that isn't capable of winning the championship. After the first week, a lot of people stood up and declared Matt Kenseth ineligible, he is out of it, he can't win. I got news for you, he can win. So I wouldn't be writing the checks just yet."
IN YOUR CAREER, DO YOU REMEMBER IF YOU HAVE EVER MADE A SIMILAR MOVE TO CARL'S (EDWARDS) AT THE END OF THE KANSAS RACE? "I haven't made a move knowing I was going to drive in to the corner and hit the wall. I've made a move knowing I was going to drive in to the corner and I stood a good chance of not coming out the other end. The move that Carl made was pretty clear that there was no way to could hold the bottom of the race track nor the top without hitting something. I thought it was cool. I thought it was a great move because he put himself in position momentarily to be leading the race. Even though it was momentarily, he did it in a way that did not impede Jimmie's (Johnson) chance of winning the race. He didn't put Jimmie in a position of wrecking or anything else. He put himself in a position. He hung it out there and tried to make something happen and I think he did the right thing. Kyle Busch had a race like that at Vegas in the Nationwide cars a couple of years ago. I made a conscious decision that I am willing to do whatever it takes to win this race within the limits of having respect for Kyle. It worked for me that day. Carl made a move that wasn't going to win him the race, but at the same time, momentarily, he put himself in position to win the race as opposed to just riding behind Jimmie. He didn't put Jimmie in a position of wrecking or anything else so there is nothing wrong with it."
WHAT DOES THIS RACE MEAN TO THE GUYS THAT AREN'T IN THE CHASE? "I think it is important to understand that the guys that aren't in the Chase have as much right to this race track to the guys that are in the Chase. I believe that in many ways it makes it harder for those guys because they don't want to be the story of why someone didn't win the championship. They don't want to be in that story. At the same token, they have as much right to go for the win and go for a top-fives and top-10s as the guys in the Chase. This is one of those places that is clear that you could come here and win the race and have not had a chance to win a race all year long or have not been able to win a race all year long or not had a top-five all year long because there are so many that happen here. A lot of drivers look at this as their opportunity to make some great things happen and that is why I think you see a lot of the driving you see here is because people are in position to do something that they couldn't have done last week because their equipment won't let them do. But their equipment will let them do it here. It is a little more sense of urgency because when they leave this race, it is harder to make stuff happen.
"I don't think it is an equalizer because if you go back and look at track records, there are certain people that win a lot at these race tracks. It is not like I think Jeff Gordon has gotten lucky every time he has won here, I think he has won those races. It is not like we throw a bunch of ping pong balls up in the air and whichever one lands first wins. People have to drive the cars and people have to work on the cars. The best rises to the top. But it is clear that you can take a car that really should run 20th and finish third with it here. It is really hard to do that at Texas or someplace like that."
-credit: gm racing