All-Star: Burton - Friday media visit

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Lowe's Motor Speedway and discussed his thoughts about the weekend, the drug testing policy and more. ON HIS THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS WEEKEND. "Well this is always...

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Lowe's Motor Speedway and discussed his thoughts about the weekend, the drug testing policy and more.

ON HIS THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS WEEKEND. "Well this is always an extremely exciting weekend for the drivers and the crews. You come in here a little more relaxed than you would on a point weekend. It's just a lot of fun. With the success that we've had here recently hopefully we can turn that into something Saturday night. I've never won an All-Star race and it certainly is something I want to get done."

WITH THIS BEING A NON-POINTS EVENT, WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE THE WEEKEND OFF? "I think the All-Star race is important. I think it's good for our sport to have an All-Star race. It creates a lot of excitement and the fans seem to certainly like it. An off weekend would be a wonderful thing because as you guys know that do it every week, when you have four of them during the season they're really precious and a couple more would be really nice. I think it's good for our sport and its good for our sponsors. I think it's good for everybody to do it. It's a lot of fun to do. It's one of those races that you kind of wake up Sunday morning and you're not really thinking about it. Normally when you wake up on a Monday morning you're constantly replaying a race and wondering what you could have done better. This race is just a whole lot less pressure. It feels a lot like the Nationwide race to me. When I go into the Nationwide race it is really low-key and low-pressure. You just go try to win and if you can't win then it's a little disappointing but it's not the end of the world like it is when you don't run well in a Cup race and a point race."

WHY COULDN'T NASCAR JUST MAKE A RULE THAT IF YOU'RE GOING TO BE ON THE PIT CREW ON SUNDAY, THAT YOU HAVE TO WORK ON THE TEAM AND BE AT THE RACE TRACK FRIDAY, SATURDAY AND SUNDAY AND CUT SOME COSTS THAT WAY? "I guess you could. I guess you could make that rule. When you did I guess what you would have to do, is you would have to do it like they do in the Truck Series where you can only have x-amount of people at the shop. I will say that changing tires and jacking and fueling is a specialty. It does require attention and dedication. You could do it however you wanted to do it. You could do it like that and make a rule but I think the way that we do it now is fine. I don't know that it costs us a whole lot more. Obviously if you didn't have to bring more people in it would cost less. This is the highest form of motorsports in North America and I think it's okay to have people that specialize in pit stops. I don't have a problem with it."

FOR THE FORMAT OF THE ALL-STAR RACE ARE YOU ONE OF THOSE IN THE CAMP THAT BELIEVES IT SHOULD BE ELIMINATIONS AS PART OF THE RACE, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE CURRENT FORMAT? "I like the shorter end of the race. I think the race ought to be shortened. I personally like the inversion. I think the inversion process is cool. I don't think you ought to tell people how many you're going to invert. I think there ought to be a reward for winning every segment that makes it tangible and makes you want to do it.

"I believe anything we can do to make it more exciting for the fans is the right thing to do. I don't think eliminating makes it any more exciting to be perfectly honest. I think what has potential making it exciting is different pit strategies and people being on different cycles. I don't know that eliminating cars makes it more exciting but I don't care what the rule is. I think whatever the rule is they should be created for one thing and one thing only and that's to create an exciting race."

A FEW DRIVERS LAST NIGHT WERE TALKING ABOUT WANTING TO SEE A LIST OF BANNED SUBSTANCES, WHAT IS YOUR FEELING ABOUT THAT AND WHAT ARE THE QUESTIONS OR THINGS THAT CAN BE LEARNED TO MOVE FORWARD AND WHERE IS THE RIGHT IN YOUR MIND IN RELEASING WHAT A DRIVER TESTS FOR? "I try to look at it from a selfish point of view because I think that's the eye that it needs. From a drivers standpoint I support a strict drug testing policy. I hate being drug tested. I hate the fact that someone walks up to me and says hey we're going to drug test you. At the same time I love the fact that we're doing it, I just wish they would do it to everybody else and not me because it is an invasion of your privacy. At the same time, we are going 200 miles per hour. We deserve to know that the people we're racing against are of the right mind and physically in the right condition to be able to do it. This is a complicated issue.

"I can tell you that on the surface of it a list would seem to make it simple and if that list had 20 items on it I think it would be more simple. But if you look at that list, I don't know what in the hell those things are. There's so many chemicals that I'm not real sure what they are. It is scary to me that I can go to a physician and this happens, there's a lot of cases of this happening, go to a physician with a real illness, a physician prescribe you something, you take it, you test positive, you are banned for two years and the only thing you were doing was trying to improve your health going to a real doctor with a real illness. That's the problem with a list. If you're going to have a list and if you test positive for this then you are suspended, that's the problem with it. There's no flexibility for hey I went to a physician, this physician gave me this, I have this real illness, here's all the proof. It takes away a legitimate mistake from allowing a commission to let a legitimate mistake go by because if you're going to adhere 100 percent to a lit then there can be no wavering from a list. The way that this policy works, the way Dr. Black has explained it to me and I've pushed him many times about it is there's flexibility in the program so if I do go to a reputable doctor and he prescribes me something for a real illness but there's an understanding of what that was all about and there's a process that doesn't suspend me that may put me on a different drug, that may require me to do some more testing in the future, but there's flexibility. The same way that one of the things that has worried me about this drug testing is as I become more into nutrition and I become more into fitness, supplements are a big part of that and there are a lot of cases of tainted supplements. So you go to a reputable supplement company from what you believe to be a reputable supplement supplier, you take a product, you test positive with a list there's no flexibility. Your positive, end of story, doesn't care why.

"This process allows an explanation, allows a reasonable argument to be heard versus it's on the list you're out. So on the surface of it I'm a big supporter of the list but when you really start digging into it and you look at what's happened to a lot of Olympic athletes, having to go to court and prove they were doing something and still losing then the list become a little more cloudy. So, it's a tough subject and but from my standpoint I want flexibility. I want the opportunity to be able to explain what happened, to be able to state my case and someone with reasonable mind, be able to say you know what that makes sense we did not suspend him.

"On the topic of releasing information I'm a little bit of a hard nose about this. If I test positive for a mistake like we just talked about it's in my best interest for the fans, the media, for the sport to know that what I tested positive for was a legitimate mistake if I was suspended. If I'm not suspended then I don't think anybody deserves to know anything. If I were suspended for marijuana let's say, I think that should be released. The reason that I say that is because what you don't hear in baseball and what you don't hear in football is I didn't do that. I didn't take whatever. Once it's been released you never hear them say they didn't do it. So there's credibility given to the drug testing. Our drug testing, if we released it I think it would provide credibility to it. Now it would potentially provide more harm or cause more harm to the individual that did it in some cases but they made that choice and if it was a mistake releasing that information only helps to explain it. So as much as I can't believe I'm saying this because I believe in privacy, that's one of my rights as an American citizen, once I've given up the right to be drug tested then I'm okay with releasing it because I think it adds credibility to the program."

IF A DRIVER WERE TO TEST POSITIVE IT APPARENTLY LOOKS LIKE THERE IS NO RULE FOR AN APPEALS PROCESS, SHOULD THERE BE SOME FORM OF AN APPEALS PROCESS TO PROVE YOUR INNOCENCE IF YOU TEST POSITIVE FOR A PHARMACEUTICAL DRUG AS OPPOSED TO A RECREATION DRUG? "I think there is the ability to have a conversation about and there is the ability to have a positive test, contact be made and then there's a few days there to be able to sit down with your physician and you and the people that are conducting the test as well as NASCAR and tell the story. So there is in my view an opportunity to explain it. There isn't an outside source that can come in and provide an official appeal process but there as seen by me there is under this scenario the opportunity to explain the situation and to hopefully work through it without a suspension. The great question is and this is something that I don't know because of all the privacy and I support the privacy we don't know if there's been cases that that's happened yet. There may have been cases that someone tested positive and they said hey, look you tested positive, I know I tested positive here's why I tested positive, here's my physician, I don't know if that's happened or not. We would never know that nor should we know that because if that happened to me I wouldn't want NASCAR to release my name. But that could have happened and we would never know about it. I suspect that it has happened but I don't know that. I believe there is the option or the opportunity to have a conversation. You know we have a court system.

"We have a legal system that would provide in an emergency situation an opportunity for an injunction, an opportunity for a stay, an opportunity for a lot of things that is seen by me still available. So if something happened to me and I felt like it was wrong I would exercise my ability to bring the legal system involved and get the legal system involved and have the ultimate appeal process. So that's still available."

THE SUPPLEMENTS THAT YOU MENTIONED, ISN'T IT TRUE THEY HAVE A SERVICE YOU CAN SEND THOSE IN AND THEY CAN TELL YOU WHETHER OR NOT THEY ARE ON THAT LIST? "I think what is real important to note here is that there is not a list but I have Dr. Black's cell phone number because he provided it to me and if I go to the physician, I call Dr. Black and tell him what the physician has asked me to take. If I take a supplement then I call Dr. Black and say this is the supplement that I'm taking. I am very proactive. Because there is no list and because there is flexibility it is a requirement of the driver/crew member/NASCAR member to be very proactive and ask him questions. You can't worry about being a pain in his butt, that's his job and if I call him 50 times, I don't care. It's my life, it's my profession and as seen by me the responsibility rests on my shoulders to make sure that anything I'm doing I'm okay with."

YOU SAY THERE'S NO LIST, MIKE WALLACE SAYS THERE'S NO LIST . . . "There is a list of substances that you will be tested for but it isn't a list that says these are the items that we will bust you for. My view of it is that list is these are some of the things that we will be testing for. Not all things, not this is what you have to test negative for, it's not that kind of list. The way I understand the list is hey this is some of the things that we'll be checking for. That's the way I see it so I don't see it as a list."

SPECIFIC TO JEREMY (MAYFIELD), HE SAYS A COMBINATION OF OVER-THE-COUNTER AND PRESCRIPTION DRUGS, DR. BLACK THEN SAYS THAT'S NOT PLAUSIBLE ESSENTIALLY CALLING HIM A LIAR, IF THEY'RE GOING TO TAKE IT TO THAT LEVEL AND BE THAT DEFINITIVE ABOUT HIS DEFENSE, SHOULD THEY THEN NOT BE DEFINITIVE ABOUT WHAT HE DID TO BE FAIR? "I consider myself to be a fan of Jeremy's. I have no intention of talking about Jeremy's case specifically. I will tell you as I said before that I think if you test positive and are suspended, I have no problem with and believe it brings a tremendous amount of credibility to the program to release the information and all of the information. That's the way I view it."

IF A DRIVER TESTS POSITIVE, YOU HAVE TO HAVE THE B SAMPLE BEFORE YOU'RE SUSPENDED. BUT IF A DRIVER TESTS POSITIVE AND THEY HAVE REASONABLE SUSPICION AND THEY ARE STILL ALLOWED TO PRACTICE BEFORE THAT B SAMPLE CONFIRMS AND SUSPENSION BECOMES IN EFFECT, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT BEING ON THE TRACK AGAINST SOMEBODY WHO WASN'T OF SOUND MIND? "My understanding of the policy is that you don't have to test positive for the B sample. You have the option to raise your hand and say, 'I want you to test the B sample.' I believe that's the way it works. So you can test positive and they call you and say, 'Do you want us to test the B sample?' You don't have to do that. They can suspend you on the A sample. That's my understanding of it. That has nothing to do with your question; I just wanted to explain that.

"I believe that the quicker the process, the better. I also believe that the country we live in, you're innocent until proven guilty. And an athlete should be given every opportunity to prove that he was not doing what he tested positive for. Will that potentially put a driver in a position where he has tested positive for something that he shouldn't be doing and be on the race track? It potentially does. I'd like to say that hopefully there is a way to expedite it, but if there is not a way to expedite it, and create a situation where we know it's 100 percent correct, I believe the driver's right to prove himself innocent supersedes him being on the race track. That goes against my safety philosophy. That goes against what I believe to be a perfect world scenario. But if you're going to have a compromise, I think the driver or crew member should have the ability to prove his innocence before he is suspended. The minute he is suspended, his reputation is tarnished for the rest of his life. This sport is one in which you have to have support of corporate America. You cannot have the image of a drug abuser and make it in this sport, I don't think. So I fall on the side of the driver on this, this particular driver, rather than the overall drivers because I just believe he ought to have every right to prove his innocence."

WE ASSUME YOU'VE BEEN TESTED. IF SO, HOW OFTEN? "I'll tell you how many times I've been tested. I was tested once before the year. I was tested at Daytona, at Bristol, there may have been one other time, but I know I've been three and possibly four times."

IN BASEBALL, FOOTBALL, BASKETBALL, AND HOCKEY, THE PLAYERS UNION SITS DOWN WITH THE LEAGUE AND TOGETHER COME TO AN AGREEMENT ON WHAT THE POLICY IS AND IF ANY OF THAT CHANGES, THEY HAVE TO GO BACK TO THE PLAYERS UNION AND IT HAS TO BE AGREED UPON. DR. BLACK SAYS THAT NASCAR DOES GET THE INPUT OF DRIVERS. DO YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE THAT'S ENOUGH? "Let's speak honestly about the Player's Union. The Players Union kept anabolic steroid testing off the table and kept it where you could take steroids and it wasn't against the rules, okay? That's what the Players Union did. The Players Union stood in the way of the leagues in making anabolic steroids against the rules to take. And we've had a lot of players that have come out and we've learned that the players were taking anabolic steroids. It wasn't against the rules. And now the Players Unions are playing this game saying, 'We're going to play tough, and steroids, we're not going to have it.' They're the ones that kept it out. They're the ones that allowed it. So the Players Union did no justice to baseball; did no justice in that process. What they did was they allowed they're players to do it. Now they can stand up in front us today and say they want to do the right thing; they didn't want to do the right thing. They wanted their players to have the right and make it where it wasn't against the rules to do it. That's what the Player's Unions did. That's the way I see it. I don't any parts of that.

"What we've said as drivers and what the majority of drivers have said is, 'We want positive enforcement. We want strict drug testing. That's what we want.' So the Players Union has done more damage to this drug testing than they have helped it, as seen by me. What we have in this sport, I don't know if it's right or wrong, but the fact that it has flexibility to explain it, I think makes a lot of sense. Should drivers have representation and should drivers be heard? There's no question. Driver's opinions and driver's comments and the side of the driver should be told. There's no question about it. But the Players Unions have done more harm than good. That's my view of it."

ON NASCAR LISTENING TO DRIVERS CONCERNS: "I feel like NASCAR listens to me, but there is no question in my mind who runs the show. And I don't get a vote. My opinion is heard. I feel like at any moment when I have something to say, I can call Mike Helton and have a one-on-one conversation with him. I can call John Darby and have a conversation with him. I can call Brian France and have a conversation with him. I feel like I can go to the very top of this company and have my opinion heard. I also know that they're going to do whatever it is in NASCAR's best interest. And they're going to do what they believe is right after hearing all the sides and stories But they're going to fall on the side of what they believe is right for them. And our sport has been served well by that. That's the way I see it."

JEREMY MAYFIELD ISSUED A STATEMENT OFFERING AN EXPLANATION FOR A POSITIVE TEST. WHAT HE DID NOT DO WAS SAY WHAT HE TESTED POSITIVE FOR. CAN ANY OF THE DRIVERS TELL THE WORLD WHAT THEY WERE TESTED FOR WITHOUT ANY REPERCUSSIONS FROM NASCAR? "I'm not aware of anything that would tell me I couldn't tell what I was tested positive for. I can't say that somewhere in the fine print it doesn't say that. I don't know. I would think that my information about what I had done or hadn't done, I would think that I would have that right to tell the story. There may be something in the fine print that says I couldn't but I don't believe that's the case. I believe that ultimately if I wanted to tell the media what I had tested positive for, or if I'd been tested like I just told you, that there would be no problem with that from NASCAR. My father in law was a physician. We've had a lot of conversations about patient rights. My brother in law is an attorney and we've had a lot of conversations about patient's rights. My interpretation of it is that I would be able to discuss with you guys whatever information I wanted to."

DO YOU COMPARE DOVER TO BRISTOL? "Dover is a lot like Bristol, much more like Bristol today than it was since they changed Bristol. But the speeds are so different that it's hard to compare them. The fact that they are both high-banked concrete race tracks means that they are similar. They have some similarities. I'm certainly not going to tell you that the set-ups we run at Bristol or the way we drive Bristol is the same as Dover. They require different set-ups and different driving styles, but they are similar in the fact that they're both concrete. Typically if you get into something it's big at Dover or Bristol. And those are the similarities."

ADDED NOTE ON THE DRUG TESTING ISSUE: "This drug testing thing is a complicated issue. There are a lot of questions and unfortunately we're young into this thing and I'm learning the same way you all are. I will tell you that it's my view that Dr. Black is available to us for any questions that we have and I have called him numerous times and had long conversations with him. I think the key to this thing is for the drivers to be very, very proactive in making sure that you are always in communication anytime you're putting something in your body. That's the main lesson here is that if you're going to do something that is illegal, then you're probably not going to ask him if that's okay. If you're going to be doing something that's legal and seems innocent to you, you'd better be on the phone. And you'd better be proactive. It is your life. It is your career. It is your ability to make a living and it is your reputation, which at the end of the day, is everything you have. And if you're not going to be proactive on it, then shame on you. And that's the way I see it."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mike Helton