Continued from part 1 Q: After you've been on a couple of short tracks, do you look forward to just getting going and going as fast as you can? JEFF BURTON: You know what, I don't race because we go fast; I race because I love to compete.
Continued from part 1
Q: After you've been on a couple of short tracks, do you look forward to just getting going and going as fast as you can?
JEFF BURTON: You know what, I don't race because we go fast; I race because I love to compete. What I do love about the series that I'm lucky enough to run in is that we run a lot of different kind of racetracks.
And Texas, even though it may look just like Atlanta and it may look just like Charlotte, it's nothing like those racetracks, nor is Atlanta like Charlotte. To me the variety of racetracks that we go, that's what makes it fun and that's what makes it interesting. So I like going to different kind of racetracks because I think it shakes the year up and kind of keeps you fresh and makes you think, and before every race you've got to refresh yourself about the racetrack you're going to, and that's why I really enjoy the series that we're racing in.
Q: I'm wondering, talking about the green and white checkereds, how much do you talk to your crew chief like the day before, night before the race about what you would do if it comes to that situation?
JEFF BURTON: Very little, because I think you really can't make that determination until you see what's going on in the race. We have had a lot of conversations about different scenarios on different types of racetracks with how many laps left, all those kind of things. But until you honestly -- the race starts and you realize who you're competing against and you realize what you're up against as a team, what you're battling with, what the tire is doing, it's very hard to make those decisions. Even though we have practice, it's not the same as a race.
So we don't talk a whole lot about it on a Saturday night or a Sunday morning, but we have talked a great deal about it on Monday, prior to the race, and really tried to pay attention to what's been working, what hasn't been working and taking note of those things.
But I think it's really important to remember that every track is different and every situation is different. You go to a place like Texas, and Kyle Busch, in the situation he was in this past weekend, he's making it three wide on the outside and he's getting by some people and with four tires still has a chance to win. So really the racetrack determines what you can and can't do, and of course how your car is handling determines what you can and can't do. You really don't know that until the race start.
Q: You've worked with a lot of different crew chiefs. Do they have different styles on how they approach making these decisions, and is there a style that you prefer as a driver?
JEFF BURTON: Well, what I prefer to do is I prefer for us to recognize the situation we're in and make the call based on that and live and die by that. I don't think you can go into every race and say, caution comes out with ten to go, we're putting two tires on it, end of story. I don't think you can do that. I think you have to look at the situation you're in and make the decision that's best for what you're doing right then.
You know, some crew chiefs it's a win-at-all-costs attitude; some crew chiefs it's a, hey, we've got to get points; some crew chiefs -- it just depends. Todd is very aggressive, and Todd is wanting to make something happen. You know, like at Bristol in the spring, we had a fast car -- we didn't the fastest car but we had a fast car. He made a decision to put four tires on; in retrospect, and he'll readily admit it wasn't the right thing to do, but in his eyes what he was looking at is, well, if the guys we're racing with do two and we do two, we're not going to win, so we've got to do something different. So we came in running fifth, went out running 12th and finished 10th, so in retrospect it wasn't the right thing to do, but he was very aggressive in trying to win the race, so I can't blame him for that.
And by the way, that's what we should have been doing. We were good in our points, we weren't just needing to be conservative, we were needing to try to be aggressive to try to win the race. I think ultimately even though it wasn't the right call, the mindset was correct.
Q: Last year you were talking about the testing ban, that that was a hurt on y'all's team's performance. What's changed this year? Are there areas of the car that you credit for the turnaround?
JEFF BURTON: Well, honestly with the exception of the engine department, the engine department was really strong last year. They did a great job last year. We had enough power to win races. That area was tweaked as it always is to try to improve it.
But on the car side of things, we essentially have a whole new company. We have a whole new way of doing business in determining how build our cars, set our cars up, all those kind of things we've put a lot more effort and energy into versus going to the racetrack and trying part A versus part B. We can't do that anymore because we're not allowed to test anymore.
So we had to adjust the way our company works in order to be successful. There's not one piece on the car that we changed and made the car better. When you're as far off as we are, you're not off by one part; you're off by many parts, and the sum of all those parts is what makes the car go fast.
About this time last year we started rebuilding Richard Childress Racing and looking at how to do it better. Honestly we looked at it and said, if you were going to build a team to be ready to win championships, ready to do the things we need to do in 2011, 2012, 2013, what would the structure look like, and that structure is a lot different with the current rules than it was in even 2007 and 2008.
So we put a plan together that we hoped would yield us success immediately, but long-term it yielded us more success, and we're seeing the benefits of that.
Q: And if you could talk about your first win at Texas again, maybe some of the special memories you have from that win, some of the celebrations you guys had, and do those memories kind of come up in your mind every time you drive through the tunnel here?
JEFF BURTON: You know, they do and they don't. I remember winning there. It was really a special day. I lost my wedding ring in victory lane. We found it. I remember that.
The celebration afterwards in victory lane was -- to be quite honest, I was surprised. I immediately got pulled away from my team, and that was a little disappointing to me. I had never won in the Cup Series before. I didn't know how it worked, so I was really surprised how that worked.
And then you've got to get home and go back to race again. When you won a race on the Nationwide Series, it was a big party on that night. But when you win a race in the Cup deal, man, you've got to go all the way across the country and you've got to get home and go back to work. So it was a little bit of an eye opener.
It was a really special day for a lot of reasons. Seeing Buddy Parrott in victory lane with my first win meant a great deal to me. It was a really special day.
But even then, even though it was my first win, I can honestly tell you that by Tuesday I was kind of over it and ready to go onto the next thing. That's just my personality. Unfortunately I don't take enough time to enjoy things sometimes. But that's -- I remember waking up on Tuesday thinking about, okay, that was cool, but now we've got to go back, go back to work, and that mentality is still with me.
Q: You've talked several times this season about how much better you guys are running, but you're falling a little short in the execution part. How do you fix that? Is it a matter of more concentration, better decision making? How do you address that problem?
JEFF BURTON: You know, it's easy to say we're going to make better decisions, the question is how are we going to do that. We've talked a lot about that. I think that from my standpoint the mistakes that I've made have generally been from trying a little too hard in situations that -- the result of trying really, really hard didn't really gain you a lot versus a penalty. So I've got to do a little better job of understanding the situation that we're in, and I don't want to say not try hard, but not try too hard, because the two times that I put us in positions that I didn't need to put us in were under caution, pit road stuff, and those -- they really hurt you.
The biggest penalty in racing, procedure-wise, is pitting out of the box. You pit out of the box and you're a lap down, but then they also put you at the end of the longest line, so it's like being a lap and a half down, and it's just -- that's just a mistake that can't be made. You know, a guy with my experience shouldn't make that mistake.
I have to do a better job in that part -- my part of the job. The team has got to do a better job, we've got to have a little better pit stops; we've got to have a little better strategy; we've got to be a little tighter on our preparation of parts and pieces. We all collectively need to do a better job of just doing our jobs, honestly.
Some of that is through concentration and focusing and understanding the situation we're in, understanding what it is you're trying to accomplish and then just making it happen and not trying to get too much.
So again, I feel good about where we are. I'm disappointed that we've made the mistakes that we've made. But the thing that we have had is speed. When you have speed, all the little mistakes are exposed. If we were running 20th, we wouldn't understand the mistakes we're making. We're running well enough now where it's hurting for us making the mistakes that we're making.
So we'll tighten that up and we'll be better. We're a young team, too. You've got to keep that in mind. We are a young team. We're fairly new together. We're still learning each other. And some of those growing pains are showing.
Q: I wanted to jump ahead on the calendar a little bit and ask you a Talladega question. What is it do you think about Talladega that's made it the scene of so many odd but important events in the sport's history, and what is it about the place that seems to push the equipment, push the rules? There's been a lot of rule changes that have had to come into effect from things that have happened here. It just seems to be the focal point of important stuff and odd stuff all at the same time.
JEFF BURTON: The size of the racetrack, the degree of the banking, the level of grip that you have at Talladega creates a situation that's difficult for everybody. It's difficult for NASCAR; it's difficult for the teams. And restrictor plate racing is something that we have to do. If we didn't have plates on the cars, we would definitely be going too fast.
There's no good answer to taking the cars and preventing the 10-, 15-car pile-ups. There is no immediate answer that you can say, well, that would definitely be better.
When you put all those things together, you have a mixture for game-changing possibilities. And it's made NASCAR look at rules, it's made NASCAR look at safety stuff, it's made NASCAR look at procedures, it's made the teams look at all those things, and it's just a mixture of degree of banking and amount of grip and the size of the racetrack, because every -- you guys know, every car in the race can run the same speed. And when you put 43 cars, there's some faster than others, obviously, but at some point in the race the car that's running 20th -- the 20th place car will post the fastest speed.
When you put all those cars in a big pack, you're going to have problems, and that's what Talladega is. It's honestly a problem that's hard to fix and it's created a lot of situations that's forced the teams and NASCAR to make rules specifically for that racetrack, and it's because of the reasons that I've mentioned.
HERB BRANHAM: Thanks to Jeff Burton for joining us. Best of luck this weekend.