POST RACE WINNER'S PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT: JEFF BURTON, SCOTT MILLER AND RICHARD CHILDRESS. FOLLOWED BY MARK MARTIN.
JEFF BURTON , NO. 31 PRILOSEC OTC MONTE CARLO SS, RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING, FINISHED FIRST:
"We had a really good car on long runs. We struggled on short runs. We were way too tight to start. That was the game we had to play. We worked really hard on trying to make that better.
"Typically that's what happens when you win a race. We needed long green flag runs - that's what we needed and that's what we got. We played the card that was dealt to us and for me it was a matter of patience. I really had to work hard not to push too hard to start - when I did it just didn't work for us.
"Scott Miller has done just an incredible job to prepare race cars and prepare people to go out and do this and it's an honor to go out and do this. I'm just humbled by the effort they put in and every day they work so hard. This group doesn't take any time off and I'm so proud just to be part of it."
RICHARD CHILDRESS (WINNING TEAM OWNER):
"Just watching the car in practice yesterday and from the first time he went out I knew the car was going to be really good. I knew that Scott and his guys had a really good plan. The car took a little time to get going and things went our way today and the car freed up on a long run. Coincidentally the last win Jeff had he was racing Matt and it went right to the wire and today it was just the same. Watching those guys and how hard they race each other and how clean they race. It was pretty impressive."
SCOTT MILLER (WINNING CREW CHIEF):
"It was going to take a long green-flag run for us to be victorious today and luckily we got that. We struggled a little bit taking off for the first 15 laps, to the 24 and 48 especially, and the No. 8 which was really good there. Once it would sort itself out, after about 15 or 20 laps, we were faster than anybody but we'd lost that ground because our car wasn't at all set up for the short run. We made that a little better but we never quite got there. But it enough better that we didn't lose touch and we were able to use the car's strong point and Jeff's strong point of running them back down on the long run."
ON WINNING AGAIN AT TEXAS AFTER TEN YEARS:
Jeff Burton: "I'll be honest - I feel like a guy who's come back. I don't know how to describe it. When we came here that year and were able to win that race we were a fairly young race team. We ran well and I found a way to get it done.
"We were fast and that was a day that we were able to get it done. We then were contending for championships and then things got to the point when we couldn't contend at all. We were 12th in points,12th in points and then 18th. Everyone wrote that off as disgusting but if you look at the whole scheme of things it wasn't that bad.
"What Richard has given me an opportunity to do here and all the effort that Scott has put in I feel like I'm new at it again. My enthusiasm is as high as it's ever been, my excitement is as high as it's ever been and I hope that people look at me and say I can do it again. I firmly believe that - I don't believe that I forgot how to drive. Some people forgot that I can drive - Richard Childress didn't. Scott Miller and my whole team - from day one they've taken what I've said as gospel. If I've said it's tight, it's tight. There's never an argument about - well you have to drive different, you need to do this. For that I'll be ever grateful."
WHAT TOOK YOU SO LONG TO GET PAST MATT (KENSETH)?
Jeff Burton: "Matt's really good. I bet if you look at Matt Kenseth's lap times they got faster. He did a great job of putting his car in a position where he could get the most speed out of it and it wasn't where I wanted to be but it prevented me from being where I wanted to be on the exit of the corner. So Matt did a phenomenal job and, by the way, that's why he's a champion and has won so many races. That's because he's really good. The reason it took so long to get by him is because he's really good. He found a way to be faster when he needed to be and he found a way to prevent me from being as fast as I wanted to be. That's what you do when you're in the lead with 15 laps to go. After Bristol everybody acts as if I gave Kyle Busch the race. Kyle Busch won (that) race. Matt Kenseth put himself in a position to win this race. Fortunately we found a way to get by him. But Matt Kenseth deserves the credit for making it take so long."
YOU LOOK LIKE A CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM, DON'T YOU?
Richard Childress: "It's way too to start picking where you're gonna be. These guys job is to go out and do everything we can every week to put yourself in a position to be a championship contender first and I think this team is getting there. I think Jeff Burton has all the ability to be a champion. He will be a champion. Scott Miller has been around long enough and watched enough to put together a group of guys that's dedicated to winning and consistency wins championships."
DOES IT MATTER TO YOU THAT THE FOCUS IS NOW ON YOU (AS A CONTENDER)?
Scott Miller: "It doesn't change the job we have to do one bit. It's one of those things where, I'm glad that we've gained the respect of our competitors but really and truly this race is now over and our focus now is on Phoenix and trying to do the same thing.
"It's when you get complacent that you're going to fall behind. From the middle of last year and this year, that's what I hope we're going to guard against. We always have to strive to be better. We won today but, boy, it's not easy to win these races - for anybody - with the level of competition we've got. We just have to keep working and keep making our stuff better. We get such a great effort out of Jeff Burton every weekend that makes our job a lot easier, to put in the long hours and go the extra mile, because we know he's going to do that every time he straps into that car."
Jeff Burton: "The thing about Scott and the reason that people are having to take notice of us is because it's never good enough. I don't have to call Scott on a Monday morning and say, hey we have to think about doing a different body, we need to think about spending more time on doing this or that - he's doing it. If we run this race car here in the Fall and we don't run better than we did today we won't win the race. We've got to be better every week. He knows that. He doesn't rest on his laurels. We've got to get on Richard every now and then 'coz he likes to sit back. He likes to work hard but when things are working he doesn't like to change anything (laughter). Scott is up on it - that's what you see from Chad Knaus. That's what you see from Robbie Rieser. That's what you see from those teams that compete to win. It's never enough and they are always trying to make it better. That's what Scott Miller's got. It's an awesome experience to be part of it."
ON BEING A PART OF SO MANY CLOSE FINISHES
Jeff Burton: "The thing I love most about our sport is the competition. I've said before that I don't like sitting in a 140-degree car for four hours. That's not why I do it. Believe it or not I don't do it because for the money I make. I do it because I love to compete. This is one thing I can compete at at a high level. That's what our sport is about. It's what your team has done against everyone else. When it's 30 to go or 40 to go - that's when it counts, that's when it'll pay you the points and pay you the money and get the trophy. That to me is what wakes me up in the morning, is finding a way to do it better than the competition. At some point the rubber has to hit the road and that's results. The results come when you're on the last lap. I love being part of close finishes and I've been lucky, I've been part of a lot of really close finishes. I haven't always won them, I can promise you that . it's really fun, it's invigorating. To beat Matt Kenseth, to find a way to beat that #17 team on the last lap, I'm telling you, you guys don't understand how much that means. Because that's a great race team. He's a great race driver. To find a way around that, it means an incredible amount.
ON NOT MOVING PEOPLE OUT OF THE WAY TO WIN:
Jeff Burton: "I am who I am. I've received some criticism after Bristol for not being more aggressive. And that's okay, I'm good with that. The fact that people have different opinions is what makes this sport work. But at the end of the day, I am who I am, I race the way I race. I think I've received more back from other drivers because I've been courteous to them. Matt Kenseth would have driven me that way too. That's the deal. To be perfectly honest, winning a race because you knock someone out of the way, didn't mean you were better. It just meant you were willing to give something away in an attempt to get the win. If you want to do that, that's fine. But when I wake up in the morning, I want to know that we won the race. I want to call Scott Miller and Richard Childress and say we won the race. Knocking someone out of the way is a little bit of pleasure for about two minutes. But you didn't win the race. You just give up some integrity to win a trophy. That's not what I'm about and that's not what this team is about. We're going to do it the right way, we're going to win races with credibility. Right, wrong or indifferent, that's who I am.
WERE YOU HOLDING BACK?
Jeff Burton: "As soon as I got to him I was trying to pass him. I'll be perfectly honest with you, why we passed him when we did, I have no idea. I did the same thing I'd done every other lap, but for some reason my car stuck and his didn't. I don't know why that is. The only thing I did different was that I entered the corner a little bit closer to him because I'd got a good run off four. If you look at the lap times, I didn't run faster on the next-to-last lap. I think he run slower. His car was starting to deteriorate . because I didn't change what I was doing. Anything else I tried to do caused a slower lap time. I did what was working. Today was one of those days where you didn't win by brute force, you won with a methodical approach. That's what it took to be successful. That's what I did on the last lap and that's what I did 15 laps from the end."
YOU NEEDED A LONG RUN TO BE GOOD. WAS THAT THE PLAN OR WERE YOU GUYS JUST UNSURE OF HOW TO GET IT GOOD FOR A SHORTER RUN?
Scott Miller: "Truthfully we would have liked to have been better on a short run but you can't always have your cake and eat it too. We were better than a lot of them on a long run and not quite as good as they were on a short run. It was really hard to tell what you had coming into this race since the practice conditions were so different than the way we started the race. It seemed like the other day in the cool temperatures we didn't have any problem taking off and putting down a lap time in the first couple of laps of practice. I thought coming into the race that we would be fine on a short run but for whatever reason with the weather change, our car's strength was definitely the long run. We made it a little bit better on the short run but we never quite got there like the other guys. The race was either going to play out and there was going to be a caution with 15 laps to go and the short run car was going to win. Fortunately the race played to the strength of our car and Jeff was able to get it done out there."
EARLIER IN THE WEEK, YOU SAID THE TROPHY MEANT MORE THAN THE CHECK. HAS THAT CHANGED?
Jeff Burton: "The check is cool after the fact but there's nothing bigger than that trophy. You've got to pay the bills eventually but that trophy is what wakes you up in the morning."
Richard Childress: "That's one of the coolest trophies that we win there. Don't you think so?"
HOW WOULD YOU DEFINE THE RACE TODAY?
Jeff Burton: "You never knew what was going to happen. It was like a soap opera. It was just incredible, all the things. you just never knew. But I've never seen a boring race. I've seen races that are more exciting than others, obviously. What the hell can be boring about cars going around 200 mph, 43 of them, on a race track? What can possibly be boring about that? There's certainly some races that are better than others. You don't get many races like what you had today. Nor does every basketball game get triple overtime. That's the way sports are. What really kills me is when they say 'racing used to be better'. Anybody that says that never watched racing. Maybe you believed it because a marketing campaign made you believe it but anybody that watched racing 20 years ago and watches it today. there's no comparison. I've never seen a boring race."
HAS THIS SEASON GONE ABOUT AS WELL AS YOU COULD HAVE HOPED?
Jeff Burton: "It's the best I've ever gotten off to a start. I'm sure Richard has gotten off to a better start with (Dale) Earnhardt, (Sr.). I can't ever imagine not leading the points (laughs). Honestly, we've done a great job of putting ourselves in a position to win races. We haven't led as many laps as we'd like to lead; we need a little more speed. But I can't imagine getting off to a better start. There are areas that we've got to be better in but from a finish standpoint and a consistency standpoint, it's consistently finishing in the top six. That's really hard to do. We've found a way to do that; the No. 24 has found a way to be a little better. If you were to tell me we were going to get off to this kind of start I would have certainly taken it and I would have expected us to run well but you can't count on streaks like this very often."
WITH THE NEW IMPALA SS AND THE NEW CHEVY R07 ENGINE THIS YEAR, DO YOU SEE A POINT WHERE YOU WILL ACTUALLY SAVE MONEY?
Richard Childress: "In racing, if you give us a dollar, we're going to spend it. I don't think any way you're going to save money. I think the things that they did like doing away with qualifying engines and gear rules, some of those things have saved us money. But when we do save money we find a way to spend it somewhere else to try and be competitive. So if it does save us money we'll spend that money somewhere else."
-credit: gm racing