JEFF BURTON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Lowe's Motor Speedway and discussed what makes Lowe's different than the other 1.5-mile tracks, Carl Edwards and Gregg Biffle's involvement in the crash last week...
JEFF BURTON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Lowe's Motor Speedway and discussed what makes Lowe's different than the other 1.5-mile tracks, Carl Edwards and Gregg Biffle's involvement in the crash last week at Talladega, Jeff Gordon's winless streak and much more.
YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS WEEKEND. "I think this weekend is going to be really interesting. We had a test here obviously a few weeks ago and every team was here. It's pretty interesting to see the varying grooves. You could run the very bottom, you could run the very top in the test which means in the race you're certainly going to be able to run a lot of different grooves. So I think it's going to be a really interesting race. This is one of my favorite race tracks. I really enjoy coming here. It's been a big challenge since the redesign of the track. It's been a big challenge to get hooked up here, especially on the beginning of runs. I don't know, like I said it's going to be an interesting race. We're excited about it. We feel like we had a relatively good test here and hopefully we can execute."
YOU'RE NOT THE FIRST DRIVER TO SAY YOU LIKE RACING HERE AT LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY, WHAT'S DIFFERENT ABOUT THIS TRACK THAT SEPARATES IT FROM THE OTHER 1.5-MILE TRACKS? "I don't know maybe it's just that we come here a lot. We race the All-Star race here. It's in our back yard. You hear Mark Martin talk about Charlotte (Lowe's Motor Speedway), he just can't say enough good things about it. To me the track is a lot different than it was before the change. The change has really given the race track a whole other personality in my opinion. Then Goodyear's response with the tires had made a huge difference too. This track has become extremely racy. It seems like every time we come back, the track has more grip which is completely opposite. I think it's because of the tires really. First time we came here after the track reconfiguration the tires, to make them live, had very, very low grip. The next time was better, and the next time was better and I think this time you're going to see a lot and really interesting racing. Like I said here at the test you could run right around the wall, you could run right on the bottom. There were cars running fast on the bottom, cars running fast in the middle, cars running fast on the top. If you could do that in the test, it's going to be really doable in the race. How you can race here with multiple grooves, I think that's made a huge difference in why people talk about it today. Remember when the track was first changed people didn't have very many good things to say about it. The first test here we wrecked a lot of cars and it was a huge challenge. But every time it seems we've gotten better."
FROM TRACK TO TRACK DO YOU NOTICE ANY DIFFERENCES IN THE FAN BASE? NASCAR DEMOGRAPHICS SHOW THAT CHARLOTTE HAS MORE FEMALE FANS, OR AT TEXAS THEY ARE HEAVY SHOPPERS, WHAT DO YOU KIND OF NOTICE? "That's an interesting question. You know the thing that I've noticed is that, and I'm talking about from 15 years ago to today, there are a lot more families today. There's a lot more kid-friendly environments. Last week we went out to do hospitality on Sunday morning and there was a kid's playground area with inflatable toys and all kinds of slides and all kinds of things. There's been a huge effort to try to get children involved, which I think is a great thing. As long as I've been racing, NASCAR has been telling the story about how women love coming to the races and I've seen that. There's a lot of couples that come. So, the thing I see is it just seems like it's become more of a family event which concerns me in some ways because with the way the economy is. You're not buying two tickets anymore, you're buying four tickets and it's become extremely expensive. But I just notice a lot more kids around."
IF YOU WERE GREG BIFFLE AFTER TALLADEGA AND HAD BEEN BUMP DRAFTED BY A TEAMMATE WOULD YOU BE MAD AT YOUR TEAMMATE OR WOULD YOU THINK WELL THAT'S JUST TALLADEGA? "Well I find it funny how we go to Talladega and Bristol and wrecks happen and then we just say that's Talladega or that's just Bristol. I'm a little confused with how that got started. All I know is years ago I don't believe that Cale Yarborough looked at Donny Allison and said hey that's just Bristol. Something tells me he put his arm around his throat. Today we take away the responsibility of the drivers and say oh that's just Talladega. Somebody start a wreck. There's times when the wrecks start themselves because a tire blew or something like that. Yes there's nothing you can do about that. These wrecks don't just happen by themselves they are caused by the drivers. How you respond to that has a lot to do with your relationship with that person. If Kevin Harvick and Clint (Bowyer) and I got together Saturday night it would be stressful and it would be disappointing but I think that we all know we have each other's interests at heart and in a couple of days I think we could all be over it. The question is does Greg Biffle believe that Carl Edwards has his best interest at heart and I can't answer that question. If Greg Biffle believes he doesn't and doesn't believe he cares a whole lot about him in his effort and in what he's trying to do on the race track then that will have long-lasting repercussions. If they feel good about each other then they'll laugh it off and go on to the next thing."
NOW THAT THE ODD TRACKS ARE OUT OF THE CHASE, IT'S DOWN TO 1.5-MILE TRACKS AND THE TWO FLAT TRACKS, MARTINSVILLE AND PHOENIX, HOW DOES THAT CHANGE THE DYNAMICS OF THIS CHASE NOW THAT YOU'VE GOTTEN RID OF THE TALLADEGA AND THE DOVER? "I still think that there's some huge variables here. I think Martinsville is potentially a volatile race. The thing about Talladega is that you can run really well at Talladega and not have a problem and still finish 20th. We had big wrecks and that wasn't the case this week but typically it's been the case. That's not so much the case here. Here you can run well and have a problem and finish 38th, but if you run well and don't have a problem you're probably going to finish pretty decent. Martinsville is the same way, you can run well and have a bad pit stop, you can make one mistake lose 15 spots, boom you can't pass. I still think there's a lot of variables. Atlanta is exceptionally hard. This race track is extremely demanding. There's not a race track that we have coming that we all look at and say well that's not a difficult race track. To be successful every race track we're going to requires a great deal of ability from your team and driver. So I think it's a great test of whose on top of their game because I think the next six races are very, very difficult."
OBVIOUSLY HISTORY IS NOT GOING TO DETERMINE WHAT HAPPENS HERE THE NEXT SIX RACES, BUT YOU LOOK AT WHAT JIMMIE JOHNSON HAS DONE IN THESE RACES THE LAST TWO YEARS, NINE TOP-TWO FINISHES IN TWELVE COMBINED, HOW AS A DRIVER AND A TEAM DO YOU NOT LET THAT KNOWLEDGE IMPACT YOUR DECISION MAKING OR LET THAT WORRY YOU? "I think if you look at Charlotte and Martinsville in particular, I haven't studied the stats but I would imagine that those are two of Jimmie's best race tracks. Maybe I'm wrong but I believe that would probably be the case. If you're not a student of history it's very hard to be very good at the future. There is no question that's they've been consistently better at these next two race tracks then the rest of the field. I don't think there's no debating that. It is what it is. What we have to do is do it better. They have set a standard at these two race tracks that are very difficult to overcome but we just have to do it. We're not going to give it to him they're going to have to go earn it. It is what it is. They've done it better than what we have and we just got to go knock them off of it. We can't ask them nicely to give it to us, we just got to go take it from them. That's what we've got to go do."
ON JEFF GORDON'S WINLESS STREAK AND LOOKING FROM THE OUTSIDE IN IF HE THINKS ANYTHING IS WRONG WITH JEFF GORDON. "First of all if anybody believes that Jeff Gordon forgot how to drive they've lost their mind. If anybody believes that Jeff Gordon still doesn't want to win they've lost their mind. This thing about being successful is a whole lot more to do with the driver, the team, the whole deal working together than people give credit for. The media and the fans are really quick to give credit to the driver when things are going well. That guy is a great driver, he can do this and he can do that. Two years later they are always saying well that guy, he's not as good anymore. You've got to have stuff that will go fast. You've got to have stuff that you can get done what you need to get done with. And by the way, you can have something that works really, really well for one guy but it doesn't work well for you. That's part of the process of getting the right group of people together. We can argue about who the best quarterback is in the NFL, we could have that argument but you could put the very best quarterback in a situation where he doesn't look like the very best quarterback and by the way, you could put the worst quarterback in a situation where he looks pretty damn good. So I think it's important to understand that you've got to have the right combination together at the right time. There's nothing wrong with Jeff Gordon other than, I shouldn't say there's nothing wrong with Jeff Gordon, he's part of the puzzle. He's a piece of the puzzle that makes that entire program be successful so he has some equity in it. You can't just say well it's never his fault because the drivers have equity in it. It takes everything. You can't just have one piece of the puzzle working and think you're going to have a lot of success. The year Jeff Gordon has had this year I'd venture to say there's probably about 40 teams that would kill to have the kind of year he's had.
"They haven't had a terrible year, they just haven't been able to knock some wins off which obviously is what we're here to do. Jeff Gordon hasn't forgot how to win races, he hasn't forgot how to race.
"A lot of people are well he had a kid, it's the stupidest thing I've ever heard in my life. You had a kid and you don't care anymore. Do you think if you have a kid you just wake up one morning and say well I don't care anymore. I've got a kid and I've got a child and I love my child so I don't need a trophy anymore. Competitive people don't work like that. That's why when George Foreman retired he came back. It's why when Michael Jordan retired he came back. It's because you have it in you. Jeff Gordon didn't wake up the day his baby was born and look at the baby and say well my life is all changed now I don't need to race anymore. It doesn't work like that. Does it work like that for anybody in here? Race car drivers are no different than anybody else. I think it's absurd that people think you can't have a family life, care about your children and care about your wife and not be competitive. I think that's absurd."
ON THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN CHARLOTTE (LOWE'S MOTOR SPEEDWAY), ATLANTA, TEXAS. "Well they all look the same. That's the similarities, they do look the same. Especially Atlanta and Texas when you're in the garage area you're not real sure which track you're at. The thing about race tracks is that every one of them has its own personality. Atlanta in qualifying is exceptionally fast but in the race it has no grip whatsoever. It's the slickest place you've ever been in your life. Texas has a lot of grip. It keeps that grip. It's much rougher and there's some really big bumps at Texas that we don't have at the other race tracks. Banking and size are just parts of the puzzle. There's also the way the banking changes from the straightway to the corner, the radius of the corners. You can have1.5-mile race tracks but the radius of the corners can be completely different. So radius of the corners, how the banking changes from the straightaway to the corners, all those things have a huge impact on what makes the race track have its personality. Bumps at the wrong places, there's a big bump in the middle of (turn) one and (turn) two in Texas. Every one even though they look the same to the drivers they're just completely different."
-credit: gm racing