JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Charlotte Motor Speedway and discussed the All Star race, testing, road course racing and other topics. TALK ABOUT THE COMPETITION LEVEL IN THE SHOWDOWN: "We are going...
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Charlotte Motor Speedway and discussed the All Star race, testing, road course racing and other topics.
TALK ABOUT THE COMPETITION LEVEL IN THE SHOWDOWN: "We are going to have to go fast. There is a lot of good cars in that Showdown. It is going to be a tough race. The Roush cars are in there, the Penske cars have been fast here so I expect (Sam) Hornish to be fast. I expect (Marcos) Ambrose to be fast. Obviously, (Clint) Bowyer is going to be fast. You go back and look at some of the guys at times don't get to run all the races, some of those cars go real fast for a few laps too and that is what that race turns into. I think it is going to be an extremely competitive Showdown. I hate that I am in, but we haven't done the things we needed to do to be in the All Star so we just got to go and try to make it happen."
WOULD IT BE SAFE TO SAY THAT THE TWO COCA COLA 600 TROPHIES THAT YOU HAVE SIT MORE PROMINENTLY IN YOUR HOUSE THAN SOME OF THE OTHERS? "To me the Coke 600 is a big race because of the history of the race. It is the same way I feel about Darlington. The 600-mile race is just really cool to win. All the Charlotte trophies are really cool. We have quite a few Nationwide Charlotte trophies and they are all pretty far out front."
CAN YOU TALK A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT WHY THE ALL STAR RACE MEANS SO TO YOU GUYS AS OPPOSED SOME OF THE OTHER SPORTS AND HOW PAINFUL IT IS TO ACTUALLY MISS THIS RACE? "The intensity in our All Star event is just unbelievable. We bring it. We don't tone it down, this isn't a weekend off for us. It is in the points sense but you actually go into this weekend understanding you're going to have to really get up on the wheel and you are going to have to do some things historically you wouldn't be willing to do because the price that is paid when you pay points. As opposed to other All Star events where it is kind of happy-go-lucky weekend, not much defense played, this is very very aggressive. It hard to imagine the adrenaline rush. It is fun to do. It is a good weekend for the fans. I think it is a great weekend for the fans. Most All Star events you kind of ratchet things down. In our deal it gets ratcheted up."
WHAT DETERMINES WHO WINS THE RACE IN THE 10-LAP SHOOTOUT AND WHERE DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN THAT 10 LAPS STARTS? "I want to start second, well, I want to start on the outside. I want to be leading the race and be able to pick where I can restart and I think I want to restart on the outside. This is a track where, over the years, the outside has gotten better and better and better and I suspect you'll be able to pinch a guy down that is on the bottom and be able to make them loose. I think you want to be in the front. Clean air is always a great thing. If you are in the front, you probably have a fast race car anyway although pit stops are going to really make a difference. You could really come off pit road for that last 10-lap segment and not be where you want to be. We don't see in many 10-lap races where a guy that started much further back than fifth, sixth, seventh unless there is a pretty cool wreck, they really don't have much of a shot."
HOW MUCH IS THE FRONT PIT STALL GOING TO PLAY INTO THE FINISH? "I think that is really a big advantage. With the pit stop really meaning something, that front pit stall, and I have never understood why the timing line is where the timing line is. The timing line is, essentially the guys in that first stall at most race tracks, and I can't speak specifically to this one because I haven't looked at it, but most race tracks, the guy that is in the first box doesn't have to go through a speeding deal. The end of pit road speed typically does not coincide with where the camera is. So the camera a lot of times is forward of that. It is a huge advantage. We typically don't qualify very well so I have been complaining about it for years. I think qualifying first should be an advantage, but you should that guys should have to go through a speeding zone just like everybody else does in my opinion."
HOW WOULD YOU RANK YOURSELF AS A ROAD RACER AND HOW DO YOU THINK RCR WILL DO AT WATKINS GLEN CONSIDERING HOW WELL YOU ARE RUNNING THIS YEAR? "I think I am a good road racer but I am certainly not a great one. I think there are people that do it better than I do. I have run really well at a lot of road courses but the last 15 laps haven't been at all good for me. Our record looks horrible there, but we have run a lot better than my record says. I keep you guys you are what your record says you are, so I guess I'm not very good at it. We seem like we made good lap times, we seem like we qualify well. Actually our average qualifying on road courses is much better than my ovals. But, we have really struggled finishing there. We've put a fairly large emphasis on our road course program. When Robby (Gordon) was there, he pushed that and now since Robby left, Kevin (Harvick) has always been pushing the road course thing, we work pretty on it. We're being very aggressive about it this year and you never know what the results are going to be but we've prepared for Watkins Glen and Sonoma very well. We've worked really well to try to take those two races and come out of them with really good finishes. It has a major bearing on who makes the Chase. Those are two races that you really need to run well in much like the plate races. They are specialty races but you have to perform in them. We've put a significant effort into it."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT ADDING A 100 POINT BONUS ON THE ALL STAR RACE JUST TO THE WINNER IN ADDITION TO THE MONEY? "I'm not a fan of that at all. I think the All Star event is a standalone event. I just don't think it should have any point bearing whatsoever. I think the prestige of winning the thing is enough. I think the million is really cool. I don't want to tell Bruton this but we're going to race as hard whether it is for $500 or $20 million. The point thing to me, I just think they are separate entities. I don't think you confuse the All Star race with points because for a couple of reasons. But, the main reason is there aren't a lot of people that aren't even eligible to get that 100 points and I don't think that would be fair to Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards this week for example. These are guys in the Chase, in the top-12 in points, us. They could not make the All Star race and not even have the chance to win that 100 points. So I just think that's not fair."
DO YOU STILL HAVE THE OPINION THAT THE SPOILER HAS MADE A DIFFERENCE ON THE CARS? "I think it has been a big deal. I think the record books show it. If you look at what Gibbs has done, I don't think that is a coincidence. I think they have run better with the spoiler than they ran with the wing. The No. 11 car in particular, but even the No. 18 car, they didn't exactly get off to the kind of start that they are having right now. I don't think you can dismiss the spoiler. I think that the teams that aren't running well are going to say well, it is not the spoiler because they don't want to believe that it is. I think some teams have done it better. I haven't really seen an increase or a decrease in our performance to be quite honest. I feel like we have run about the same with the spoiler and the wing, but I certainly think there are some teams that are performing better since the spoiler and some teams that are performing worse since the spoiler. It is hard to say that without a doubt that it is because of the spoiler. But you can't dismiss it at the same time."
IS THE MINDSET DIFFERENT IF YOU ARE IN THE TOP-12 IN POINTS FROM THE BEGINNING AND HOW IT WOULD BE IF YOU WERE TRYING TO GET IN THERE? "Where we are right now, we're in better shape than the guy that is in 14th, no question about it. But, we're not in a position where we can relax by any means. We feel like we have under achieved in eighth. Last year I felt like we were over achieving and we were eighth. It is a big difference in the mindset of where we are as a team and how fast our cars can go and what I think we can do. It is clear to everyone in the garage that next week is the halfway point for the regular season. As easy as you got to third or fourth or eighth or seventh in points, you'll go to 16th as well. But without a doubt, right now, when you are on the outside looking in, and you are in that 18th, 19th, 20th position, you are really starting to feel the noose tighten. There are some people that have been eliminated already from making the Chase in my opinion. Just because you are in it right now doesn't mean you are by any means guaranteed to stay in it. I think that keeps you on your heals a little bit and always looking in the mirror and always understanding where the guys are behind you in points."
IS IT TIME TO CONSIDER LIFTING OR RELAXING THE TESTING BAN? "I've had testing on my minds some lately. As a racer, I would love to see the testing ban lifted and I would love to see us come up with some sort of a policy that allows us to go test at race tracks that we are racing on, because we are testing. We are going to places to test. It is a limited benefit to do it, but we are doing it. The fear of course is if you lift the testing ban and you give us five tests, seven tests, whatever, is that in addition to those five or seven we are still going to do the ones we are doing outside the five or seven. I don't think that the testing ban has had a negative influence on what you see on the race track. If we're not impacting in a negative way the performance and the ability to compete, then I think it is in the car owner's best interest to continue the testing ban. It is difficult when you get behind to catch back up without testing. In an era where you can't test, you just have to build your company where you can be successful without testing and that does cost money. The teams have made considerable investments in technology that allow us to benefit without having to go to the race track. If we do open testing up, then we're going to have that expense in addition to the testing. Again, I support the testing ban although I would like to open up testing. If NASCAR decides and I think the car owners ought to have a real voice in this conversation, it should be them more than anybody else. Obviously not more than NASCAR, but their voices should be heard. I think the testing ban is ok to continue, I really do. I just think you have to go to Daytona and test, you have to go because of the new surface. If there is a new surface, we need to go test. If there is a major change like we did this year with the spoiler, we need to go do that. But outside of that, I suspect the testing ban will stay in place and I think I support that."
IS THERE ANY BENEFIT IN STRAIGHT-LINE HIGH-SPEED TESTING? "Straight-line testing, that is not new stuff. People have been doing that for a long, long time. There are a couple of different proving grounds around the country, some of it is straight-line testing stuff. Some of it is really really large ovals. There is one in Arizona when you fly out of there, you can see it. There is a really really big race track. People have been going there for years. Basically what they are doing there is working on aero stuff. They are working on aero stuff and engine stuff. Trying to measure down force. They are trying to measure drag, looking at the stop watch. It has been a common practice for a long time. I think as we have done it more, we have gotten better at it. People have become more efficient at using it. But it just gives us a way to actually put a car on the race track in a somewhat controlled environment, obviously the wind is blowing, the temperature changes, those things happen. It is on a real set of tires, on a real asphalt and it allows you to quantify things that you are trying to change on the car from either an engine standpoint or an aerodynamic standpoint."
-source: gm racing