JEFF BURTON --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus (Finished 1st) "I don't think the track changed as much this race as it has in the past. We've seen that a little bit with this tire. Tracks haven't changed like they used to, it's been more consistent.
JEFF BURTON --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus (Finished 1st)
"I don't think the track changed as much this race as it has in the past. We've seen that a little bit with this tire. Tracks haven't changed like they used to, it's been more consistent. We started out loose and all night long we tightened up. We got it too tight at one point and we decided to free it up and the minute we freed it up we couldn't run, so, to me, it didn't change much. If we ever got loose, and we thought the track would get tighter, so we freed up when we really didn't want to -- and, sure enough, we got too loose. So even on the last stop we tightened it up again even though it kept cooling down. It seemed to me like it stayed the same all the time."
ON THE WINNING RACE CAR.
"This was the second Burton chassis we ever built. It's car 28 and I think it's won one Winston Million. It was in the trailer and is our full-time backup car that we put in the trailer at the beginning of the year to run anywhere we needed as a backup. Frank and I were talking about downforce difference between what we'd been running and what we had run and Frank said, 'Well, that car in the trailer is what we used to run so let's run it.' So we pulled it out. It's the oldest car we've got in the stable and we pulled it out and had a good week with it. We qualified well with it and we didn't struggle with it the way we've been struggling. I'd hate to think it's the car because that means we've got cars with taboo in 'em and we don't like to believe that stuff, but it gives us something to look at anyway. That car is three years old."
WHAT ABOUT BEING PICKED AS A CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDER AT THE START OF THE
YEAR? CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE FIRST THIRD OF THE YEAR?
"Well let me tell you about being picked to win the championship. That's what you want. If you don't like the fact that people think you can go get it done, then you don't need to be in professional sports. We took our year and started our year not thinking about winning the championship. What we were thinking about was going to every race and being as competitive as we could. Frank and I never once had a conversation about what is it going to take to win the championship. All of our conversations were, 'What is it gonna take to go win Las Vegas? And then Rockingham and on down the road. We didn't talk about the championship. We had worked really hard for a long time to get respect and when your peers respect you, that means a lot so that doesn't add pressure to you that takes pressure off. We are not in a position to win the Winston Cup championship -- not because people picked us to do that, but because we haven't done a good job of getting ourselves in that position. No matter how good they talk about you or how bad they talk about you, at the end of the day, the results are based on how we as a team get stuff done and we haven't done a good job of getting it done up until tonight."
FRANK STODDARD, Crew Chief --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus
"Like Jeff was saying, our car didn't work very good at the start of the race. It was okay, but it was 15th or 20th place and the track did come to us a little bit. It didn't seem to change as great as it always has in the past, but we hadn't seen that in practice either -- from The Winston to the practice this week, we thought that the track really stayed similar. That's why the day practice didn't seem to bother us a whole lot. As the night went on, the track tightened up a little bit but not a lot. It sort of just feel into place where our car was."
WHAT'S HAPPENED TO GET GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION?
"I don't have an answer for you. We haven't changed our philosophy on how we're gonna race. Jack didn't come in and say, 'You boys better get your crap together.' Frank and I didn't start yelling at each other, we just kept working. We were looking at what we needed to do better, why we weren't running well and really that's the whole key. If you can't run well, you can't win and you can't run in the front. What Frank and I were worried about was, 'How do we start running better?' And that's been our focus is what are we doing wrong. There's nothing wrong with our race cars. There's nothing wrong with our engines. There's nothing wrong with any of that stuff. The problem that we have is that the tire that Goodyear has built -- and I'm a proponent of the tire. I like the tire idea and I like the tire. They're very consistent and they run all day, but that tire doesn't talk to you the way the old tires talked to you. I have trouble pulling in the garage area and looking at Frank and saying, 'Frank, this is exactly what's wrong with the car. If we fix this, we will run in the front.' I haven't been able to do that. Mark Martin hasn't been able to do it. Matt Kenseth hasn't been able to do it and Kurt Busch, Kurt has done a better job at it than any of us. That's the problem we're having. It's not engines, cars, shocks, springs -- our package doesn't have a feel with this tire. Once we get that feel like we had tonight -- I told Frank, 'Frank, this is what the car's doing. It's too loose,' and we'd go and we fixed it. That's what we've got to get ourselves into position to do if we want to win races."
WHAT IS FLOATING THE CAR IN?
"I have a bad habit of driving into the corner too deep, so before the race I said to Frank, 'Make sure you remind me not to drive into the corner too deep,' and, as you heard, he was reminding me. That's what that is about. I tend to drive into the corner too deep and the minute I'd drive in the corner too deep, we'd lose three-tenths because our car didn't roll like it needed to through the middle when I drove in too deep. The conversation was, 'We've got this thing won if we just float it in the corner.' That's what it was all about."
WHAT WAS YOUR EMOTION AFTER WINNING?
"I don't want to sound facetious or cocky or anything else, but it felt normal. Winning is what Roush Racing is all about. Whether it's us or Mark Martin or Matt Kenseth and what one day will be Kurt Busch and, as you can see, Greg Biffle. That's why Roush Racing is here is to go win races. We have all the equipment that we need to win races. We have all the backing, all the resources. It's hard. This is a hard sport, so it felt more gratifying because of the struggles that we've gone through, but, at the same time, it felt like, 'Hey, this is what it's all about.' I came off turn four and I said, 'This is what Roush Racing is all about' on the radio because that is what Roush Racing is all about. Roush Racing has gone a long time and won a lot of races and we don't need to stop now."
JACK ROUSH, Car Owner --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus
THOUGHTS ON THE WIN.
"I started racing in 1966. I've had the best of times and I've had some times that weren't so good. Hopefully, the worst of times I'll never see. But we made the best preparations over the winter that we've ever made in anticipation of the next year. I can't fault a person or an effort or a priority that we made, but as we started at Daytona we had crashes that we hadn't hoped for. We went to Atlanta and broke parts that we weren't expecting to break. What happened tonight in terms of running here, we ran 3000 miles on our engines here tonight and none of them had a problem. We had competitive gas mileage that could have been a factor in the race. At several times we had the best gas mileage, so when we looked at the things we'd worked on -- the shock program, our engineering program, Jeff's management of the chassis program, the aero program -- we spent all of the money we had and all of our good people worked as hard as they can work. But we went to the race track and this is supposed to hard. We're supposed to come to the race track and have the fans and the media and ourselves not be quite sure what's gonna happen -- have a number of different ways that this thing can break and make interesting stories for everybody that likes to watch it.
"So we just haven't had things go our way this year. I expect that to happen from time to time, but it was a huge disappointment from the year Jeff came off of and, of course, Mark's back is good now and Matt Kenseth with his great year last year. Of course, the bright spot almost to this point, has been how well Kurt Busch with one year in the truck program how well he has done acclimating himself to our program and to Winston Cup."
WHAT ABOUT YOUR BELIEF IN THIS TEAM?
"I'm like Jeff, I don't want to sound cocky either but I'm about as cocky as a 5'6" guy can be in most everything I do or I don't start. We felt we were doing the right things. Jeff provides his measure of leadership for the things that he excels in. Mark does and Matt Kenseth is starting to and, I think, based on the way we started the year and the effort we've made, there's nobody that I'm looking at for direction that have said we're doing the wrong thing. Today we got the result. I hope we can go to Dover and not hit the wall. If we don't hit the wall at Dover, we'll have two or three shots to win that one. It's about getting ready for every race and when you load the cars on the truck saying, 'I've done the best I can. We'll go take our chances."
THOUGHTS ON TONY STEWART AND IF HE FELT SAFE WITH HIM OUT THERE.
"I had no issue with it at all. He finished sixth in the Indianapolis 500 and third in the World 600, that's a hell of a good day. I'm proud of him for doing it. I'm glad I didn't have to do it. A couple of year ago, he wasn't fit enough to do it and we were the benefactor of that. I told him last week I appreciated that because that won us about another million dollars, but I have no issue with it at all. If couldn't get it done, then he would have had to pull in and he would have."
ON STEWART'S DOUBLE.
"Speaking as an owner, I was relieved that Jeff, Mark, Kurt and Matt don't have the background to be tempted to go do such a silly thing. I think racing 600 miles is probably enough for us, but good luck and God bless him."
ANY CLOSE CALLS?
"A typical race. Nothing happened directly in front of us that we had to do a masterful job to miss it. We had one thing on pit road. I was coming in and Bobby Hamilton, Jr. was coming out. Other than that, we were real loose a few times and I don't have the most confidence in the world in being loose on these tires. I tend to spin out pretty easy with 'em, so, other than that, it was a clean night for us."
ON FUEL MILEAGE.
"I'm glad it came down to a little bit of fuel mileage because early in the race -- maybe lap 70 or something -- Jack is always thinking about how to win a race. He already came down and let me know that we were in a window and at that point if we did this and did this we would go to the end. So we pitted out of sequence, I didn't listen to him, so then it came down again with about 150 to go and he did the same thing. 'This is your final chance,' he told me and I didn't listen again. Thank God the cautions flew just about right for us and it worked out there at the end. I just want to add that the guys in the motor shop, it's easy build all kinds of horsepower and then lose all your fuel mileage, but they've done both. They've really worked hard on the motors this year. All of our departments. Nobody has left a stone unturned at Roush Racing. Jimmy Fennig and myself and Robbie Reiser and now Ben Leslie have worked real hard together. I think as well together as we ever have since I've been at Roush Racing. With the buildings being moved in together. The motor shop come downs once a week from Livonia (Mich.). They meet with us. It's just a real strong unit right now, so I'm real proud we were able to come through tonight for the motor department and everybody from Roush Racing."
DOES THIS WIN FEEL LIKE VINDICATION?
"We have been far off. What we haven't been far off on is effort. There have been four races this year that we ran worse than we ever had before, since I've been here and Frank's been here and that baffled us. We left those races not even knowing why we ran that bad and that's a bad sign. Again, what I kept saying was that everybody was still working and everybody was still fighting. You find out who is made of what when things aren't going well. I'm gonna tell you, if you can't get along when things are going well you've got major problems. Our guys never quit. Jack never called me and said 'you better get your stuff together.' Jack knows we're trying as hard as we can and Citgo knew we were trying as hard as we can. It was just an effort. This doesn't mean that with all the hard work that now we can go home and rest. What this means is that tonight we got it done. There are still some struggles ahead for us. We're still going to Dover with a tire that we didn't run there last year. We have a lot to learn between now and the time we come back from Dover and it's the same way for the next race and the next race. We still have some tough times ahead of us. This doesn't mean that everything is great and everything is lovely. We've got to keep fighting and keep working and when things don't go well, go analyze it and figure out how to make it better."
YOU HAVEN'T DUCKED ANYONE DURING THIS STRETCH.
"It's not Frank's fault. It's not Jack's fault. It's not the engine guys fault. If the driver can't tell the team what the car is doing, no team in the world can be successful, so I am committed to this race team. Through thick and thin I am committed to this race team because through thick and then this race team and Jack have been committed to me. It takes that kind of dedication to be successful in motorsports or any business. Jack started with nothing and now has like 1800 employees. Not everyday is a good day. If you only go out and work when things are good, then you've got a long life ahead of you and you're not gonna be successful. I've said, and I really believe it, is that when we do come out of our slump, we're gonna be a hell of lot stronger for it. We're gonna appreciate the good times more and we're gonna be more wary of the bad times and that's gonna keep us on the straight and narrow. It's a shame we've had to learn the hard way, but that's the way I tend to learn things in my life."
WHAT DO YOU MEAN BY TIRES TALKING TO YOU?
"When a race team is working and they're winning races, the reason why is -- obviously, they've got good engines, they've got good chassis, they've got good shocks, they've got good springs, they've got good pit stops -- all those things, but the thing that really makes a race team work is when the driver drives down in the corner he feels something. Whether it's pushing or loose or the left front's not doing what it's supposed to do. Whatever it is, he's feeling something. That feeling goes through his butt and to his head and says, 'We need to do this better. This is where we aren't running well and this is why we aren't running well.' If you ever lose that, you cannot be successful -- not in this type of racing. Maybe in F1, where they do so much computer analysis. Maybe you could get by with it, I don't know, but I know in this form of racing that you can't get by with it. Frank's one of the best crew chiefs in the business. He can't make a call on the car if I come in the garage and he says, 'What's wrong?' and I give him a deer-in-the-headlight look. He can't do it. So, that is what I'm talking about. You have to have that feel. When we're on top of our game and the race is over, Frank and I can have a conversation in the trailer for about a minute and we have already decided what it is we did wrong. For example, after The Winston last week, Frank and I sat in the trailer for 20 minutes and we talked about nothing. We were talking, but we were like rolling the dice. It's just different. You have to have that feel. If you don't have that feel, you can't do it."
WHAT ABOUT THE LOW POINTS.
"There's been two low points this year. The first one was at Las Vegas when the driver had his head up his ass and he spun the car and got it in the wall for no reason on the second lap of the race. That is not what we're supposed to do. That is not what we get paid to do. That is inexcusable and for punishment I had to stay in Las Vegas for three damn days by myself and that couldn't have been any worse punishment. And then California. We went to California and we had a great test. I called Jack the next day and I said, 'Man, we've got it figured out.' And we went to California and I looked in my mirror at one point and there were two cars behind me on the race track. I went back and looked at our times to make sure we weren't crazy. We had a great test at California. The times that we ran at California were awesome. I'm telling you, we had a great test. We went back with the same car, the same everything and we couldn't run a lick. That was discouraging because I really believed going to California that we had found something and we were on the verge of being what it is that Roush Racing is all about and that there was a terrible, terrible finish."
ARE YOU BEING CAUTIOUS NOT TO PUMP OUT YOUR CHEST YET?
"I think maybe Mark Martin is rubbing off on me or something (laughing). This is really, really hard to go do this and do it competitive week-in and week-out. I'm not gonna take anything for granted. I know what's gonna work at Dover and what's gonna work at Charlotte are two different things. We don't know what we're gonna get when we go to Dover and anybody that says they do is either lying or they're overconfident."