August 21, 2001 Bristol Motor Speedway Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus, and his car owner, Jack Roush, conducted a teleconference shortly after NASCAR's presentation on the Dale Earnhardt investigation. A transcript of...
August 21, 2001 Bristol Motor Speedway
Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus, and his car owner, Jack Roush, conducted a teleconference shortly after NASCAR's presentation on the Dale Earnhardt investigation. A transcript of that teleconference follows:
WHY AREN'T THE CRASH BOXES SOMETHING THAT COULD BE PUT IN CARS THIS
My understanding is that NASCAR is not sure about the technology. They're not sure that the technology that is available will do all of the things that they would like to have done without having some consequence or some side effect, some detriment, to the car or to the systems in the car that could upset competition. They obviously need to be reliable and they need to be consistent. They need to be something that will provide meaningful and accurate levels of data for the foreseeable future, and my understanding was they weren't sure they had that technology defined yet."
SO THEY COULDN'T JUST USE THE SAME TYPE OF SYSTEM CART HAS?
I'm not familiar with what CART has today and they didn't comment on it, so I can't respond to that. The cars are obviously different and I suspect, not being familiar with the CART system, that the systems wouldn't tailor ideally to what we have. I don't know that that's true."
THE CRASH BOXES IN THE IROC CARS ARE POWERED BY NINE-VOLT BATTERIES AND
THEY'RE PASSIVE RECORDERS. HOW COULD THAT SYSTEM AFFECT A MECHANICAL
CARBURETOR AND MECHANICAL DISTRIBUTOR LIKE YOU GUYS HAVE?
I can only tell you what NASCAR said today. My understanding from their comments was they weren't sure that the technology that was available was ideal for our situation. I respect that from an outsiders point of view and I am an outsider on that because I'm not familiar with what's in the IROC cars or in the CART cars. It would appear to me that there ought to be a system that we could put in there that could give us some data that we could tune up later, but NASCAR said they didn't feel that was true."
COMMENTS ON CRASH BOXES?
They are coming. We will have them next year and I'm sure they're not sitting on the Walmart shelf somewhere. I'm sure at some point someone has to build these things. I'm sure they're not in inventory somewhere. I'm sure there are a lot of things that go into putting those boxes in the cars rather than just bolting them in the car. I'm sure it's not as simple as that, so it is true that we won't have them from now until Atlanta, but at Daytona we will and I think that's a step in the right direction."
ONE OF THE POINTS MADE WAS THAT YOU GUYS ARE GOING TO HAVE A TRAVELING
PHYSICIAN WITH YOU. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU LOOK FORWARD TO?
I think you ought to be careful in saying that we're gonna have a traveling physician that goes with us. I don't think that's what Mike said. I think what he said was that we would have a liaison from the drivers to the medical staff. I'm not sure he said it would be a medical doctor. It may very well be a person that understands both sides of the picture but is not a doctor. I don't know who that is, but I think it's wrong to assume it will be a doctor. Certainly, from a driver's standpoint having someone that is familiar with our background, that does understand the things we go through every week and the crew members go through every week, can't be wrong. Someone that's there to make sure that everything is handled properly is, in my opinion, a great thing. I think it's very positive and I'm glad they did it. It certainly can't be wrong."
"From an owners point of view, one of the things I've had conversations with Mike and Gary about, and for that matter Bill as well, over a period of time is looking at the level of medical staffs and capabilities that we've got in all the various markets and situations that we go into. On one hand, you could make a case and we've gotten some criticism as a NASCAR community for not carrying our own expert doctors with us. But from NASCAR's point of view and from my point of view, when you take a look at it and you go into Michigan last week, we needed to have somebody that was there that knew specifically where the doctors were and where the best equipment was for any one of hundreds of different scenarios where a driver or injured crewman would need some help. So, that really needs to be somebody on the ground. But, at the same time, that we've had discussions about why it makes sense to continue doing what we've been doing, it was my position and has been my position -- and I doubt that I'm the only owner that has taken this position -- that if we had somebody, and I prefer that it is a doctor and my understanding is that it will be a doctor from the discussions I had with Mike, but to have that person be very, very familiar with -- if Jeff had a vertebrae that was hurt before or had an injury that could be complicated by something that's going on -- anything that could be known by Jeff's medical past, to present and interact with the people that were gonna give him attention if he was injured would be timely and save precious minutes. NASCAR recognizes that and a number of other people, not just drivers, have encouraged it."
IT WAS ALSO MENTIONED THERE WOULD BE SOMEBODY TO ESTABLISH PROCEDURES AS
FAR AS ACCIDENT INVESTIGATIONS IN THE FUTURE. WHAT IS YOUR THOUGHT ON
My take on that, and I also had conversation with NASCAR about the way this investigation and, particularly, all the fallout and criticisms from the skeptics and the feeding frenzy that went around this accident and this horrible loss that we've had, NASCAR needed somebody to be point for the technical side, which is Gary, and the operators for the sponsors to coordinate the information in a timely manner that satisfied the needs of the working NASCAR media and also the national press corps and they didn't have that. There was not a way in where they could get the information that they needed in a timely manner and get it out so it was concise and it was clear. So, NASCAR needs to have somebody not only to just deal with damage control, but to get as much information as is known out as soon as possible to the media so that they can satisfy the interested folks that want to read about it and know what's happened. They weren't prepared to do that this time. This thing overwhelmed them and they want to come back and have somebody that will be able to understand what the media needs and to be able to extract from all the different activities that are involved as much information as is accurate and complete at any given time."
"There's not much more I can add to that other than to say that the more people NASCAR has on staff -- adding people doesn't necessarily help a problem -- but having a designated person that does a designated job certainly makes things more efficient. Efficiency and compiling the information and understanding the information as quickly as possible, helps prevent the next injury as quickly as possible. I'm proud of them for doing it."
"One of the things that happened, obviously, is that when they went through the accident it became clear that nobody had properly interviewed everybody that had been in contact with the car or with the effort to extricate Dale from the car. As a result of that, the one fella that thought he had seen the seat belt was not broke, he wasn't interviewed and they didn't understand that he had that perspective. It was wrong. The things he said were wrong and what he had seen was not what he thought he had seen, but they weren't able to have the dialogue and understand that before he went public with something that really created a firestorm over something that was not right."
ARE WE SEEING THE EVOLUTION OF NASCAR RIGHT NOW?
I agree with NASCAR when they say that they've been evolving for the last 50 years. I agree with that. They've made changes as problems have prevented themselves. They've worked really hard to make it as safe as possible and as safe as they knew how to make it. The difference today is the availability of technology and the willingness of NASCAR to go and grab that technology and use it to their benefit. So, in some ways, yes it is an evolution, but in other ways it's just an adaptation to what they've been doing. I applaud them 100 percent for going out and finding technology and figuring a way to expedite the process, rather than waiting for something to happen and then go circulate it, or figure out what could happen and then fix it before it happens. That's the best process and it appears to me that's what they want to do and that's where they're headed. Yes, it is an evolution but I think it's an adaptation of the evolution."
"From my point of view, as NASCAR goes outside the region of the southeastern United States and has contact with folks that haven't grown up with the sport, there is a necessity to provide greater explanations and to conduct their business and public relations affairs more consistently with the way businesses and sport and industry of this size does it throughout the rest of our society and they're getting lined up to do that. I applaud it."
WHAT ABOUT NASCAR ADDRESSING THE STYLE OF RACING AT DAYTONA AND
TALLADEGA? IS THAT COMING TOO?
I don't know what's coming with Daytona and Talladega. Certainly, it's an animal. You can't take restrictor plates off and send us on our way because we go way too fast. When you put restrictor plates on us, we get bunched up. It's a difficult fix. It's hard to know how to fix it. I think the majority of the drivers don't like the way it is now, but you know what, we didn't like the way it was five years ago either. So, restrictor plate racing is like paying taxes, you hate to do it but you have to. It creates a set of problems, but there are also benefits from it. I don't know what the answer is. If I did, I'd be in Daytona expressing myself. It's a very complicated issue. Jack and I have talked a lot about it, but it's just not an easy fix."
"You look at various race tracks and they have personalities. The Daytona race track is one of the oldest race tracks that we go to. The tires have changed, the cars have changed. There is the potential to not just change the powertrain formats and the car formats, but to also change the race tracks. NASCAR has been reluctant to do that. There is the potential only to carry some barriers that might be helpful. There is the prospect of doing some things that would cause the drivers to slow down and not to have to run wide open around the race tracks. I made the suggestion that they might put chicanes in the backstretch to slow them down, so you would have to brake and accelerate and wouldn't have these speeds that threaten to have the cars fly out of the race track. But certainly NASCAR, I'm sure, is looking at the race tracks for things that they could do. We're gonna go back to, I think Talladega, the Monday and Tuesday after the Bristol race and there are gonna be considerations of things that would allow the cars to compete effectively on the Daytona and Talladega tracks and not get as solidified as balls as they do with many cars in the draft. They're wanting to separate them and I think they may have some ideas to improve on that for Daytona. It's an ongoing analysis by NASCAR. They are sensitive to the criticism they get for the way these tracks work. I'm not thrilled to go back to Daytona and Talladega. If we went to those races and that's all we did 35 times a year, I wouldn't be involved in Winston Cup racing. I don't find that as interesting, nor am I excited about the prospect of the drivers being caught up in somebody else's problem continually and not being able to keep themselves out of harm's way. But four times a year that's what we're doing now until we can figure out a system for the car or for the track that will separate the cars and let it be more like some of the other tracks we go to."