JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET met with media and discussed racing at Bristol, the new tire rubber, the length of various Cup races, and more. WHAT'S YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THE RACE TOMORROW NIGHT? "Well, it's been a track where we've ...
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET met with media and discussed racing at Bristol, the new tire rubber, the length of various Cup races, and more.
WHAT'S YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THE RACE TOMORROW NIGHT? "Well, it's been a track where we've historically run pretty well on. Obviously it's Bristol and there's a lot of wrecks to miss and things are going to happen Saturday night, but as we get closer and closer to the Chase, every race seems like it's more and more important. I'd love to come out of here and not have to worry about the Chase thing anymore, but we'll see if we can do that or not. I feel good about our car and we'll see what happens."
ON THE RYAN NEWMAN AND JOEY LOGANO INCIDENT AT MICHIGAN AND THE CONCEPT OF A GUY 'RACES ME TOO HARD', IS THERE MORE COURTESY EXTENDED AT THE FRONT OF THE FIELD AMONG DRIVERS THAN IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK AND ON BACK? "It depends on the drivers, I think. I will tell you and I've made the comment before that people just don't realize how hard it is racing for 15th or 18th; and the reason why is everybody is running the same speed. It's just so hard to give any space because if you give it, you can never get it back. But honestly it depends on who you're racing and your relationship with that guy. Some guys race you harder than others for 18th; and some guys, depending on just the personalities or relationships between those two drivers that sometimes it's harder and sometimes it's not as hard. So, I didn't see the incident that happened last week, but I think it's just a sign of how competitive it is."
LAST YEAR YOU WENT INTO THE CHASE PRETTY MUCH OUT TO LUNCH AND THEN YOU FIXED IT ALL UP APPARENTLY IN THE CHASE FOR NEXT SEASON. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT HOW TEAMS DO THAT AND WHAT THE MINDSET IS WORKING FOR NEXT SEASON? "Well, you know you're always trying to improve. There is a lot of talk about people that are in the Chase, experimenting this time of year, and there's a lot of talk about people who aren't in the Chase trying to get better. The reality of it is we're all trying to get better all the time. There are times that you can throw the dart with your eyes closed because you have nothing to lose. But for the most part, you get better by having a game plan that has some logic behind it and executing on it. So, it's difficult when you're not in the Chase and you have to be looking for something to be good and the only thing you could be looking at it growth. You've got to be looking to grow. Last year, we weren't in the Chase but the last five or six races of last year I felt like we were really, really, really good and I came out of that year with a very positive feeling. Not because we had a good year, but because we had a good finish and I felt like we could build on that this year. That's an example of building on something and looking to be better. The reality of it is there's only going to be one guy and one team that really are fully satisfied when the year's over and the rest have to be looking for it. You're hoping to see some growth."
ON THE NEW TIRE AT BRISTOL, IT'S SORT OF LIKE THE COMPOUND THEY USED AT INDIANAPOLIS TO LAY RUBBER REAL QUICK. ALSO USED AT DOVER. MATT KENSETH SAID IS SORT OF SLIMES UP THE TRACK. WHAT'S YOUR TAKE ON THIS RUBBER? "It seemed like a lot of people were fairly free with the tire. I don't know. At the same token, speeds seemed to be adequately good. A lot of it depends on how your car is handling but for sure, I saw a lot of people that it looked like they were struggling to make rear grip and the tire and the heat have to be an influence on that."
FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE AS A GENERAL SPORTS FAN, A LOT OF RACES THIS SUMMER HAVE GONE ABOUT 3 HOURS OR LESS. WITH THE SCHEDULE NEXT YEAR GETTING KANSAS FOR CALIFORNIA THAT GOES FROM A 500-MILER TO A 400-MILER; AND OTHER CHANGES; HOW DOES THAT CHANGE THINGS? "Will you tell me that again because I wasn't aware that they were shortening those races."
KENTUCKY IS A 400-MILER THAT CAME FROM ATLANTA, WHICH WAS A 500-MILER. CALIFORNIA WAS A 500-MILER BUT KANSAS WILL BE A 500-MILER. "The one California race will be a 400-miler, is that what you're saying?"
I'M JUST SAYING THE CALIFORNIA RACE THAT FELL OFF THE SCHEDULE WAS A 500-MILER AND THAT KANSAS, WHICH REPLACES IT, IS A 400-MILER. SO YOU'VE GOT TWO RACES THAT DROP, SO YOU LOSE 200 MILES BETWEEN ADDING KANSAS AND KENTUCKY; PHOENIX DROPS 100K, 67 MILES AT THAT TRACK. "They had an extended race this year, so they went back. Gotcha. I'm glad I came in here."
I'M HERE FOR YOU, MAN (LAUGHTER) "I know it."
IS THAT A GOOD DIRECTION TO GO AND I DON'T KNOW IF THE WORD 'GOOD' IS RIGHT. HOW CAN THAT CHANGE THINGS AND WHAT DOES THAT MEAN FOR THE FANS IN GENERAL? "I think it's the right thing. I love the fact that our races aren't sprint races; they're endurance races. But I'm not sure that a 400-mile race is a sprint race. So, it's still a plenty long race. From the perspective of the younger audience, I have a 9-year old that loves racing but struggles watching a four-hour race. Hell, I struggle doing a four-hour race. Maybe it's a family thing. It really depends on the race track. Like you could have a 1,000-lap race here and it would be a great race. A lot of it is the race track. I think Kentucky is going to be right at 400, I think Phoenix is right in bringing the laps back down; all that makes sense to me. I'd like to see the California race that we're running, I'd love to see that a 400-mile race. I think the races at Michigan are 400 miles and I don't know why you would want a two-mile race track to run a 500-mile race. I love to race and I like the fact that they're long, but I think the quality of the race could be a little better if it was a little bit shorter.
"It just seems to me that when you get to the point where you're starting to get closer to the end of the race, stuff picks up. I don't think it's a coincidence that we have more cautions in the last part of the race than we do in the first part of the race. The quicker we can get the drivers into the position of now's the time to go, the better the racing is going to be I think; less opportunity for the long, long, long green-flag runs and all those kinds of things. Having said that, I like the long green-flag runs, but I do think shorter races tend to have a little more action, and I don't honestly really even know why, because it's not like we're riding around. I don't drive any different for the Coca-Cola 600 than I do the 300-miler at New Hampshire. I just think for the viewing audience, a little shorter time frame may not be a bad thing.
"What does football run, three hours? And speaking of football, when you go to a football game in person, it's like my god; there is so much down time. It's crazy how much down time there is. On TV it doesn't show the down time because there are commercials, I don't know. But when you go in person it shocks me every time I go, it shocks me as to how much down time there is. There is one positive we have, is that we really don't have down time. As a viewer at the race track versus on television, to me an NFL game there is more not-playing than there is playing. I love it; don't get me wrong. It's just an interesting concept."
THROWING AN EDDIE GOSSAGE TWIST IN TOO, WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT TAKING SAY, CALIFORNIA AND INSTEAD OF HAVING ONE 500-MILE RACE ON SUNDAY, YOU HAVE TWO 250-MILE RACES AND EACH PAYS HALF AS MUCH? EDDIE THOUGHT IT UP, I JUST THOUGHT I'D THROW IT OUT TO SEE WHAT YOU THINK "Enough said (laughter). Where is Eddie? He's got to be around somewhere. I'm not a big fan of the Twin 250's. I used to run Twin 100's and Twin 75's, but I'm not a big fan of the Twin 250 idea."
JUST TO ASK FOR SOME PERSPECTIVE ON THE FLIP SIDE ABOUT THE LENGTH OF RACES, IT SEEMS LIKE THERE HAS TO BE SOME SORT OF BALANCE. SOME GUYS ARE TREMENDOUS AT THE NNS AND TRUCK LEVELS, BUT THE INCREASED DISTANCE OF A CUP RACE BRINGS CREATES ONE MORE CHANCE TO MESS UP AND AT SOME POINT THEY WILL. TALK ABOUT ENDURANCE BEING A FACTOR "That's right. The ones that are too long need to be shorter. Every race doesn't need to be shorter. That wasn't a question; that was a comment. I agree with your comment 100 percent. I think that that we need to have a 600-mile race but we don't need to have all 600-mile races. We don't need to have all 500-mile races. Pocono would be a better event if it was shorter. I just think it would be a better race. But I don't think New Hampshire would be a better race if it was shorter. It really depends on the race track. I do agree with you 100 percent. What separates the Cup guys is the fact that they can put it on edge for three hours; for three and a half or four hours versus an hour and forty-five minutes. And that's a major difference. You see it when really, really good race car drivers come into this series you see them struggle with that. There's an art to it and it's really what separates it."
WHAT IS IT THAT SEPARATES THEM? "The ability to operate at 99 percent is a lot of people have that ability. Very few people have the ability to do it for four hours. In tennis, every professional tennis player can hit a shot that hits the corner. Only the best can hit that shot seven out of 10 times. The fact that you have to do it more times in a 500-mile race than a 200-mile race is what separates the best. You cannot be successful in this series or any series without operating at close to 100 percent. And the best can operate at close to 100 percent more often than they guys that aren't the best. Some guys, 99 percent is faster than another guy's 99 percent. Being able to couple all those things together is what makes the best drivers."
-source: gm racing