JEFF BURTON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Darlington Raceway and talked about the new surface, his team's improvement in performance, personalities on the race track and much more. Full Transcript: HIS...
JEFF BURTON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Darlington Raceway and talked about the new surface, his team's improvement in performance, personalities on the race track and much more. Full Transcript:
HIS THOUGHTS LEADING INTO TOMORROW NIGHT'S RACE. "Well it's really interesting. It reminds of when they repaved Charlotte or when they redid Texas, some of the real fast race tracks. It's pretty interesting. If you watch lap times, people every time they go out they seem to go faster which indicates that tires don't make a whole lot of grip when they're new but they make more grip when they get air pressure built up and they're scuffed. It's not 100 percent deceiving looking at the time chart, but it's a little bit deceiving because if you can run real fast that doesn't necessarily mean you can run fast for a long time. Any time you have these kinds of speeds that we have here today and what we're gonna have tomorrow night, the only way you can go that fast is have the car tight. You can't run that fast loose and of course it's only gonna get tighter and tighter and tighter. I think the key to the race is going to be how loose can you start and reasonably keep up and then hopefully the car will swing and be good on long runs because I see a lot of people, including ourselves, that are having trouble after five or six laps getting their car to turn and that's just because of the accelerated speeds. I think it's going to be a really interesting race. It's gonna be a lot like Darlington but a lot unlike Darlington. We saw last night in the Nationwide practice, I don't know it must have been seven or eight cars that wrecked. It's still Darlington. It's still Darlington, if you make a mistake you're gonna pay a big price. There's less just Darlington stripes though. It seems like when you hit something now you hit it quite a bit harder because you're going so much faster so it's a lot like Darlington in the sense that you don't have room to make a mistake but it's a lot different than Darlington too because the grip level is so high."
TALKING ABOUT JAKE ELDER. "Jake was just a touch before my time. As I was coming in, Jake was starting to not be around as much so I never really got a chance to spend a lot of time with Jake. But he's one of the people that someone in our sport needs to write a book about. I know somebody in here is thinking about that. There's so many great Jake stories that he is indeed a legend in our sport. I never had a chance to work with him. Never had a chance to spend much time with him. But the stories that follow Jake Elder are really interesting so I certainly hope he himself can improve because he is truly one of our legends."
IT SEEMS THE NO. 99 HAS FOUND AN UNREGULATED AREA IN REFERENCE TO THEIR REAR TIRES AND IF THAT IS SOMETHING THAT OTHER TEAMS ARE LOOKING AT. "It's pretty obvious what they've been doing and they deserve a lot of credit. That's not the only reason they're running well. They've done a lot of things really well and Carl is driving it well, Bob's (Osborne, crew chief) got a good set up, the engineering program is working really well. There's more than just that why they're running well. They certainly have pushed that to the extreme in comparison to what most teams have done. It was blatantly obvious what they were doing even early, early, early in the year. Again, I think that is something they've done that's helped their team. We've seen a rash of people trying to imitate and copy them and not yielding the same results. There's more to the picture than just that. That's my opinion."
IN REFERENCE TO CLINT BOWYER'S WIN LAST WEEK, IS THERE A DOUBT IN YOUR MIND THAT YOU CAN ACTUALLY GET THAT SECOND WIN? "Well I've won 20 and there is a doubt in my mind whether I can do it again. I mean that's just how this sport is. Obviously being a multi-time winner means a lot more than being a one-time winner. Clint appreciates a great deal the fact that he's been able to win twice on this level and I think he appreciates how hard it is to do it. I don't think that Clint left Richmond thinking everything is perfect now we'll go win 50 more. I think Clint has a real good understanding of how things work and it's very hard to win races and to be at the right place at the right time and all those things add up. The whole company felt great about Clint Bowyer winning and the 07 team winning but we're all smart enough to know there's a lot of challenges ahead. But certainly that second win is pretty special."
TALK ABOUT THE SUPERMAN FACTOR, THE INVINCIBILITY FACTOR, AS YOU PUT IT BACK WHEN YOU WERE HERE FOR THE RE-PAVING PROCESS, WHEN IT COMES TO THE NEW SURFACE THAT SOME DRIVERS MAY HAVE TOMORROW NIGHT? "The speeds are up so high you're gonna be pushing pretty hard to make lap time, you're gonna be driving harder than you typically drive at Darlington. You know Darlington's always been a race track that you have to run right on the edge. To run fast, you have to be on the edge. The cost of being on the edge and crossing that edge is greater now because the speeds are up. So we're gonna see a typical Darlington race in which people overstep the bounds, but I think we'll see it more. I think that when you have a low-grip race track people respect it more than when you have a high-grip race track. If you really think about it, when we come to Darlington we have a lot of long runs. We have a lot of runs that go to fuel stops and those kind of things because people respect it so much. I'd be willing to guess that people have lost a little bit of respect for it at this point because the grip level is so high. But it won't be long that we'll gain it back because again I think the consequence and the cost of hitting the wall is gonna be higher than it used to be."
AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR NASCAR SAID THEY WANT MORE PERSONALITIES BACK, DO YOU NEED PEOPLE LIKE KYLE BUSCH WHO REALLY DON'T SEEM TO WANT TO SAY THE RIGHT THING AFTER THEY GET INVOLVED WITH SOMEBODY? "We've always had it. There's not a time in this sport that I'm aware of that we haven't had the people that were willing to push the buttons, willing to lay it all out there and not worry about the consequences. It's Kyle's turn (laughing) but he won't be one of the first and he won't be the last. Our sport has been full of it and full of them for a long time and that isn't going away. In some ways last week, as seen by me, it was hard racing. Kyle made a mistake and I think Kyle would admit that he made a mistake and obviously it took out the most popular driver in the sport so it's been big news. But it wasn't the first time that's happened and it certainly won't be the last. And to be quite honest, in Kyle's defense, when you wreck Dale Earnhardt, Jr. what are you going to say that makes anybody feel okay about it anyway. What can you do? You can't do anything. 70 percent of the crowd is going to hate you no matter what you say. If you're Mark Martin you can probably get by with it. If you're Kyle Busch you're given less latitude because he's shown he's very aggressive and people immediately say he did it on purpose because he has been aggressive and he has pushed it to the limit. So in a lot of ways Kyle is better off just saying nothing. Because whatever he says is going to be wrong anyway."
ON WHETHER HIS TEAM IS WORRIED ABOUT NOT LEADING MANY LAPS IN RACES. "Yeah we worry about that. We have never stood up in front of our fans or the media or ourselves more importantly and said that we're going as fast as we need to be going. We've been very open about the fact that we need to find some speed. We're doing a good job. It's not like we're not fast enough to put ourselves in position in races, but there are other teams that have been able to lead more laps. The 99 team, the Gibbs cars, you know those teams have been able to lead more laps and put themselves into position to win more often. We're not in denial about that and I won't sit here today and tell you that's not an issue for us. It is the issue for us. It's the issue that we feel like we need to be better in. We think we're doing a lot of things really well but there's areas -- I talk every week about us needing to improve and that's the area right now that we need the most improvement."
ON GETTING THE BEST FINISH POSSIBLE OUT OF A 20TH PLACE CAR "Well I think that we deserve a lot of credit in getting a lot out of average days. When we do it, it's been viewed as they've been lucky and they've been in the right place at the right time. It's very similar to what the 48 team has done over the last two or three years. How many races have they been running 20th and found a way to finish fifth, which by the way that's a sign of a great race team. You're not always going to be your best and when you're not your best what do you make out of it. We haven't been what I believe to be our best yet. I believe that our best is yet to come. But in times when we haven't been our best, we have still managed to do a really nice job."
ON HIS TEAM'S IMPROVEMENT OF PERFORMANCE OVER THE PAST FEW SEASONS. "There is no question that we're better than we were three years ago. We couldn't put ourselves in position to do the things we need to do three years ago, we just couldn't do it. Over the last two years and up to the point this year, we've had enough speed to put ourselves in position to have good finishes and contend for the championship. We made a big step in '06 and in '07 I thought we kind of stayed level and I think we've taken a step this year. I think we've taken a positive step this year. I know it doesn't show in laps led, but there are a lot of areas that we won't talk about publicly. There are a lot of areas that we as a team feel that we're way stronger in. Those are backed up by evidence, so we're a much stronger team today at this point than we were last year at this point. I don't know what our laps lead and all looked like last year, but I know we're a better team and I think that We'll shine as the year goes on, I really do."
WHEN DENNY (HAMLIN) HAD CAUSED THAT LATE-RACE CAUTION IN RICHMOND, AFTER THE RACE SOMEBODY ASKED HIM ABOUT IT AND HE SAID SOMETHING TO THE EFFECT THAT IT DIDN'T REALLY MATTER BECAUSE I WAS GONNA HAVE A TERRIBLE FINISH ANYWAY. DON'T THINGS LIKE THAT ADVERSELY AFFECT EVERYONE ELSE WHO IS STILL COMPETING ON THE TRACK AND HAD HE NOT DONE THAT WE MIGHT NOT BE TALKING ABOUT KYLE BUSH AND DALE (EARNHARDT) JUNIOR BEING INVOLVED IN A LATE-RACE WRECK? "Well anything that you do has a consequence and there's no question about that. Every move that you make on the race track affects other people because there's other people on the race track. What Denny's comment is, what he's saying is we all do it. We're not concerned about the efforts of the other teams, we're only concerned about our efforts. Denny didn't set out to do something that was going to be detrimental to someone else, he set out to do something that was going to take a real negative situation and try to help it the best he could. There's no doubt that a race is no different than everyday life, what you do affects other people. What he did at the end of the race last week certainly affected other people. He didn't set out to affect other people, he set out to affect himself and the effort of his team. That's what he's supposed to do. What he did obviously wasn't ultimately right and I'm sure he would say that but what he was doing was what he believed to be in his team's best interest, not would be detrimental to someone else."
WHAT WOULD YOU THINK ABOUT A NATIONWIDE SERIES ALL-STAR RACE -- NO CUP GUYS. WOULD IT BE INTRIGUING? HOW WOULD YOU THINK IT WOULD WORK OUT? "Don't see how you could have an all-star Nationwide race without any cup drivers in there. Like it or not, the Nationwide Series part of its identity is the cup drivers. We can have the romantic notion all we want that would the series be better if it didn't have any cup drivers in it but the harsh reality of it is that's not true. The series is better because of the cup drivers in it. I'm not saying there's not negatives to it too, there's no question that there's negatives to it, but the positives far outweigh the negatives. To have an All-Star Nationwide race without a lot of the all-stars in it, it wouldn't be an all-star race. It just wouldn't be."
HOW WOULD YOU THINK IT WOULD TURN OUT WITH THE CUP GUYS? "I think an all-star race in the Nationwide series would be exciting. I think it would be something that people would like to see. I do think there's something special in having the all-star race just for the highest level. I think there's something to be said about that too. I haven't put any thought to it, but I think it's real special to have an all-star race for our top series but that doesn't mean it wouldn't be wrong for another series as well."
-credit: gm racing