Burton NASCAR teleconference, part 1

NASCAR Teleconference Transcript September 16, 2008 An interview with: JEFF BURTON HERB BRANHAM: Thank you, and good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's NASCAR CAM video teleconference. We're in advance of Sunday's race at Dover ...

NASCAR Teleconference Transcript
September 16, 2008

An interview with:

HERB BRANHAM: Thank you, and good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's NASCAR CAM video teleconference. We're in advance of Sunday's race at Dover International Speedway. That is the Camping World RV 400, presented by AAA, Race 2 in the 2008 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Today our guest is Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 AT&T Mobility Chevrolet. He joins us from the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, North Carolina.

Jeff comes into Dover fifth in the series standings. Jeff, you're in pretty good shape after the first week of the Chase.

He won this race over two years ago, so pretty easy to imagine you're feeling confident coming into this weekend's event.

JEFF BURTON: I thought last weekend went pretty well for us. There were obviously things that could have gone a little better for us. I've said it for three or four weeks, I really feel we stand to run really well in the next nine weeks.

So we got off to a good start. A solid start for sure. And now on to the next one. It's one week at a time. We've put a lot of focus into each and every race. Feel really good about what we've done to get ready for Dover. We'll see what happens Sunday.

Q: In light of what's going on with Tony Jr. and Tony Sr., without getting into specifics, can you talk about the relationship between the crew chief and the driver, and how important it is for that driver to give specific, concise feedback back to the crew chief?

JEFF BURTON: Well, I think it's especially important for the crew chief and the driver to be able to communicate. I hear a lot of crew chief driver combinations, maybe a comment, hey, we always think alike. I think that's not very good at all. I think pushing each other and being able to disagree with each other and doing it in a productive way is what makes it work the best.

I believe that, you know, there has to be a lot of respect. People have to the crew chief has to respect the driver. The drivers have to respect the crew chief. They both have to understand that they both have each other's interests at heart and are giving 100%. Then it just turns into results.

There's times that people really like working with each other, but they don't get results. There are times people don't like each other at all, but they get results. Ultimately at the end of the day, it's about results.

But physically at this level, when you get talented people with the right dedication, typically those things work out pretty well.

Q: Two years ago you got off to a really good start in the Chase and led for four consecutive weeks. Greg Biffle by winning it at New Hampshire has sort of come out of a dark horse category and I guess is now a contender. If you could give Greg a little advice at this point in the Chase, what would you tell him?

JEFF BURTON: Well, I don't think that I'd be giving Greg advice, but I think I'd be giving the media and fans advice: Don't read too much into one week.

I think it's important to understand that, you know, this is a ten week stretch. I mean, so much happens in ten weeks. We've already seen it in one week. We saw Matt Kenseth had a lot of trouble.

You know, obviously got into a wreck, and he started with a deficit anyway because of the race wins versus Jimmie and Kyle, and now he's in a bigger deficit. Those are things you can't count out.

They're solid, they're tough. Matt's a great race car driver, and they're not out of it. Just because Greg Biffle won the first race, that doesn't mean he going to win it.

We saw the same thing happen two years ago, the year you referred to. You know, Harvick won the first race. Then he had trouble in the second race and really wasn't a factor in the championship. He made a good run, but because he had trouble, that outweighed the good races.

So it's just too early to be, you know, deciding who is going to win, and who is not going to win. It's just way too early. I said that last week before the thing even started. There's three drivers that everybody picked, it's one of those three drivers that is going to win the Chase.

I think people are crazy to think that. I know they're the ones that deserve the consideration, for sure, based on what they've done. But people who watch racing ought to remember that two races out of ten can completely ruin a guy's chance to win a championship.

So you just never know what's going to happen. You have to take one race at a time. Pay attention to one race at a time. I can't be worried about Talladega right now. I need to worry about Dover. When Dover's over, we'll worry about the next race. So it's one race at a time, and ten races is an eternity. A lot of stuff's going to happen over the next ten races.

Q: You were just mentioning Talladega. Can you talk about the tracks in the Chase, any favorites and ones you don't look forward to? And in your opinion, whether a road course should be added in the future?

JEFF BURTON: I think the racetracks ought to be representative of what we do the majority of the year. If you look at how many one and a half mile racetracks we run, that percentage ought to be close to the percentages that we run in the regular season. Same with Super Speedways, same with road courses.

Under that formula, it would preclude a road course from being in the Chase. I think it would be I don't think it would be a good thing for our sport for 50% of the road courses to be represented in the Chase. I don't think that's right. That has nothing to do whether I think I'm good at them or not, it just has to do with simple logic.

If we ran six road course races or five road course races, then you could stop and make an argument. But because we run so few of them, I don't think they belong in the Chase.

As far as racetracks I'm looking forward to, honestly, I look at the tracks. I think we won at six of the ten racetracks that we go to. I know we haven't won at Talladega. I know we haven't won at Homestead. I know we haven't won at Kansas. But I feel good about those racetracks.

I look at last year at Homestead, the driver made a mistake, but we probably had the best car on the racetrack. Hit the wall in lap 5. Had to make up two laps. We had a great car. Never won there, but I feel good about it. Talladega's a wildcard. Chances are for people that are involved in the Chase are going to get into wrecks at Talladega. It's that simple. That is what the odds tell you.

So me, personally, I don't look at any racetrack and say, wow, I can't wait to get there; but I don't think, oh, my God, I'm not excited about going to a particular place either.

Q: Having been both in and out of this Championship Chase, what is it like this time of the year when you're not racing for the championship? Do you feel forgotten? Do you really just focus on the next year like everybody says they do? What's it like when you're not in the Chase right now?

JEFF BURTON: Well, you feel left out. Honestly, I told someone a few weeks ago that we were not going to be in the Chase. We knew we weren't going to be in the Chase. And I think we qualified outside pole or 3rd or something like that. And I parked my car after the qualifying lap, and not one person from the media was standing there. And I was like, you know what? I mean, we just did pretty good. Nobody seemed to care. That's just how it is.

If you're not in the Chase, people just don't pay you a whole lot of attention. You have to do something dramatic to bring that attention in.

We are always working on next year. We're always working on the next week. When people say we're working on next year, who isn't? You're always building on what you're doing. What you do next week has a great deal to do with what you did this week. That is the nature of our business.

You can gamble a little bit more, maybe. You can do things a little bit more unorthodox, maybe. But as for the fact it's just building blocks, you're always trying to put one block on top of the other to get better. So we're always looking to be better in the future.

But, you know, it is tough when you're not in the Chase. Then, you know, you start racing. You're racing people for the championship, and that's a tough spot to be in.

I think some guys in the Chase expect special consideration. I don't think that's right. I think just because you're in the Chase doesn't change the fact that the guy's not in the Chase, he has as much right to the racetrack as you do. But people start looking for extra consideration, and extra help.

We heard that from Tony last year or the year before. We heard I believe it was last year because he won all his races. He felt like at times he was in the way. He felt like he was interrupting the flow of the Chase. That's a difficult position for those guys to be in, too.

Continued in part 2

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Greg Biffle