Charlotte: Ford Racing - Jeff Burton press conference

Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 9 Gain Taurus in the NASCAR Busch Series and the No. 99 Citgo Taurus in NASCAR Winston Cup, held a press conference in the Lowe's Motor Speedway infield media center to discuss a new program with his wife, Kim, to ...

Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 9 Gain Taurus in the NASCAR Busch Series and the No. 99 Citgo Taurus in NASCAR Winston Cup, held a press conference in the Lowe's Motor Speedway infield media center to discuss a new program with his wife, Kim, to benefit Duke Children's Hospital.

Burton's Busch sponsor, Gain, will sponsor a program to raise money for the hospital in which fans can call 1-800-DUKE-KIDS to make a donation. The program will be highlighted at Richmond International Raceway in September when Gain will donate $10,000 for every pit stop under 17 seconds.

JEFF BURTON --99-- Citgo Taurus

"The Duke Children's Hospital in Durham, North Carolina. It's a heavily intensive research facility. They do a tremendous amount of research that spreads across the country. Even though it's in Durham, North Carolina, the outreach of that program is huge throughout our whole country. It's a place children go to spend their last days. It's a place that children go for six to eight months to have transplants and all sorts of things. It's not a normal children's hospital. It's a highly intensive, serious case place that's about research and also about immediate care. It's a wonderful facility with a great environment. When you drive up to the facility it's very kid-friendly. It's a non-sterile, welcoming and colorful place. There's a basketball court kids can play on and a water fountain they can play in. There's a center with all kinds of video games and toys. The building was built child specific. Everything in the building is about children and it's about not making it a scary place. It's a very expensive building to build. It's been a very intensive process to get it done, so we're trying to raise money to get it paid for and then to continue the research. It's a very fun place to go, if you can call hospitals a fun place to go. Kids can go there and not feel so threatened. You can see it in their eyes. They have a place to play and they have things going on. It's just a different environment than a normal hospital and, because of all that, it's a very special place."

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO DUKE? "I've been very familiar with Duke University, obviously through the sports part of it. One of our former sponsors had me go to the Duke Children's Hospital to present a donation. When I was there we toured the hospital and visited some kids. I came home and said to Kim on that day that I thought I found something that we could grab and try to help. When you're a professional athlete, you have all sorts of requests for a lot of different things and it's difficult to decide whether to focus on one thing or try to help a lot of little different ones. The way Kim and I work is we like to focus on one thing on everything it is that we do, so we were looking for something to get involved in. That felt like the right thing to do to me. Since then, we've pledged to raise a tremendous amount of money. Our sponsors, such as Gain, have helped us do that. Kim is on the board of directors of the children's hospital, so we're heavily involved at the moment, so that's how it all got started."

WHAT ABOUT THE PIT STOPS AT RICHMOND (NOTE: GAIN WILL DONATE $10,000 FOR EVERY PIT STOP UNDER 17 SECONDS THAT NIGHT)? "We know we're gonna have at least two pits stops to make and probably three. The pressure is on the team for sure to have some good pit stops, but the pressure for the extra money is probably no more than what I put on them anyway or what they put on themselves. It's gonna be a fun thing to watch. We're hoping that whoever is covering the race, I guess it will be NBC at that time, will make it a point to show the pit stops and make a big deal about it because it is a big deal. It's raising a tremendous amount of money for a great cause."

KIM BURTON -- "I just want to say that we're going to have a child from the children's hospital be the time keeper with me on the box during the race. The guys always complain to me because I'm the timekeeper for our team and they always say, 'You know you're slow.' We haven't picked that child yet, but that is going to be a special day for that child. They're going to be flown up in our plane and get a special tour. That was important for me to be able and give a child that experience."

JEFF BURTON -- ARE YOU GOING TO RUN A LOT OF THE SECOND PRACTICE OR NOT? SOME HAVE SAID THEY DON'T WANT TO WEAR THEIR ENGINE OUT. "I think that's a good point, but this race starts earlier than it started before, so we're gonna run more in the daylight than we have before, which means we're gonna run less in the cool weather. I think the race starts 45 minutes earlier and that's a tremendous amount when you look at the race taking four and a half hours. We've moved roughly 20 percent of it earlier into the day, so I think if you ignore that, you're gonna get yourself in trouble. We believe that we need to understand what the cars are gonna do when it's warmer because we're gonna be running in warmer weather more. If you sit there and wait for your car to get good in the last 100 laps, those last 100 laps aren't gonna come as late as it's come in the past. To me, you better have that car working when it's daylight and then have enough adjustability to keep it working when the sun goes down. That's the way we're approaching it. If we don't practice much in the second practice, it's because we felt really good about the car. It won't be because we feel like it's the weather condition or the engine thing. We have got to believe in our engine program to run every bit of practice that we need. You can't not run practice because of your engine, unless you're running really well. If you're running really well, then you can think like that, but you've got to practice. You've got to practice every lap you can get your hands on."

WOULD YOU RATHER TAKE A GUY WITH EXPERIENCE OR A YOUNG GUY WITHOUT EXPERIENCE? "I'm 34. I've got to keep reminding everybody of that. If you give a guy a fast car and he can be as fast as a guy without experience, I'll take a guy with experience any day. Now, in today's times as rapidly as technology is invading our sport, the younger drivers can have success now quicker than they used to. It's a different attitude. When I came Winston Cup racing, my sponsor, my car owner, my crew chief, my team -- everyone around me -- had convinced themselves and me that we weren't supposed to win. We were a rookie driver, a team without enough funding, 'let's go try to finish 15th.' That was the mentality and that's not the mentality today and the reason why is because the fear of multi-car teams hurting the sport has done the exact opposite. Multi-car teams have created so many opportunities for young drivers to get into good equipment and you didn't used to have that. It used to be that young drivers had to drive the junk. Well, the young drivers now are driving good cars and, by the way, as they're driving good cars they're also outrunning their older teammates in many cases. I'm not saying that they don't have talent because they obviously have a tremendous amount of talent, but it starts with the mental outlook of the whole team -- not just the driver. When I came Winston Cup racing, I came in thinking, 'I need to go out and do well. I feel good about myself. I think we can do well.' But two months into the year I was pretty convinced we weren't supposed to do well because that's what everybody told you. That's not the case anymore. I think that's a good thing and I think that's the way it ought to be." HOW DOES EXPERIENCE HELP? "I don't know, it depends on the situation. There are things that I know will happen tomorrow night that someone else may not know. The thing that the multi-car team has done, though, is it's spread the experience. The things that I know and the things that my team knows, based on the experience that we have, Kurt Busch doesn't have to learn the hard way, his team doesn't have to learn the hard way. We're gonna help them through that because that's part of what we do. In return, when he's fast, we get to understand why he's fast. So, that experience does get less and less important as the willingness to share the experience grows and that's what multi-car teams have done -- it's spread the experience and it's created a situation where young drivers and young teams don't have to go through the heartache of breaking parts and wrecking cars uselessly. That's what multi-car teams are about -- benefiting every driver. I think that's been a huge help. I know it's been a big help for Kurt Busch. I'd like to believe it's been a help for Kurt Busch and I'm sure it's been a help for Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson and everybody else.

"I mean, Jimmie Johnson didn't go drive for Billy Hagan when Billy Hagan didn't have enough money to go racing. It's just a different deal now. I'm not making light of their talent. I want to make that clear. They're all extremely talented and that speaks for itself. I'm not trying to make light of it, but the opportunity that they have today is greater than it used to be." DO YOU FEEL HAVING A YOUNG DRIVER KEEPS VETERANS LIKE YOU FROM BECOMING STAGNANT? "I think having teammates is good for that. I tell you what keeps you from becoming stagnant -- people on your own team running well. You can have an 18-year-old kid on your team that runs like crap and I can tell you that you don't care what he's doing. You don't want anything to do with it. When you have a driver and a team in your company that is doing well, and you get to pay attention to what they're doing, that keeps you from being stagnant. That makes you think all the time. It isn't because he's young or it isn't because he's old, it's based on the level of success that they're having. I can speak from experience. I've been in a situation where I've been the best car at Roush and I've been in the situation where I've been the second-best car at Roush and I've been in the situation where I've been the worst car at Roush. When we're the best car Roush, we are straight-forward and focused on what it is that we're doing. We don't pay a lot of attention to what other people are doing because we're having success. But when we're not having success, man, we're wide-open. We're a sponge trying to suck it all up and I think having teams that are running well keep you from being stagnant, rather than just a young driver or a young crew chief." WHAT ABOUT KURT BUSCH'S COMMENTS AFTER THE WINSTON. "It wasn't the most intelligent thing I've seen done in my life, but that's the negative of being young. That's the negative of not having the experience to know what to say. He's learning as everybody's watching and that's the negative of a young driver. When they mess up, they're doing it in front of millions of people. They don't have the opportunity to get on the PA system at South Boston Speedway and say something stupid and then have their mother say, 'That was the dumbest thing I've ever heard.' They have to do it in front of millions of people. I can assure you that every one of us has done things that we wish we hadn't done and I'm sure Kurt Busch wishes he hadn't done that. The problem is he had to do it in front of everybody. I've done things that were stupid to, it's just that you guys don't know about all of them. You guys know about what he did Saturday night. He regrets doing it. He regrets saying something in a way that came out 100 percent wrong. He didn't want to come out and say, 'Boy, I meant to wreck him because we needed a caution.' He was trying to say that the caution did help the race, but he didn't cause it. It just came out all wrong and that's just a matter of experience. He regrets it, but it's under fire. He's learning under fire. The focus on him will be bigger than it was on me when my brother and I wrecked at South Boston. We got in a wreck on pit road and got in a fight on pit road. It wasn't that big of a deal. It was to us, but when the Bodines did it at Indy, boy, it was a really big deal. That's the difference."


Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Charity , NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Kurt Busch , Jimmie Johnson , Billy Hagan