JEFF BURTON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 31 IMPALA SS MET WITH MEDIA MEMBERS ON FRIDAY and talked about RCR's chances for Sunday, which line to race in, track conditions, the Junior factor, probation and more. Full Transcript: ON TONY'S STEWARTS...
JEFF BURTON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 31 IMPALA SS MET WITH MEDIA MEMBERS ON FRIDAY and talked about RCR's chances for Sunday, which line to race in, track conditions, the Junior factor, probation and more. Full Transcript:
ON TONY'S STEWARTS COMMENTS ABOUT HOW ANYONE CAN WIN THIS RACE BUT REFERRING TO THE RCR CARS AS REALLY HAVING A CHANCE TO WIN "I know we've got a chance. I'm obviously disappointed with yesterday and not being able to run the whole race. I think that was a great learning experience that kind of got away from us. I thought our speed was good. I don't know why we can't qualify, but once we get in race trim our stuff runs fast. We were a little bit behind on knowing what to do with our cars. The 07 had a problem with his race; he didn't get a full race in even though he finished. The 29 was really the only one that got his full race in, so that's going to handicap us a little bit. We just have to make sure we are smart today in practice and again on Saturday."
HOW MUCH OF A DISADVANTAGE IS THAT FOR THOSE OTHER TEAMS TO GET THE 60 LAPS? "I think it's a big disadvantage. I thought not making the Shootout was a disadvantage and we could make that up in the 150's and of course we only got eight laps in or whatever we got in there before our problem. I was extremely encouraged with what I saw in our eight laps but the big question is what does it do on the 20th lap. That's the difficult part. You know lap 25 is pretty difficult with these cars and we never got there. You'll never get that race condition again. You can practice all you want but it's not the same as racing.
"But we'll pay close attention to what we did in those six or eight laps and then we'll pay really close attention to what the 29 did. We're very familiar with what we all have in set-ups. We just have to learn the best way we know how."
WHEN WE CAME AND SAW YOU GUYS IN JANUARY YOU WERE SO OPTIMISTIC AND SO FULL OF CONFIDENCE. HAS ANYTHING HAPPENED HERE TO CHANGE THAT? "No, not at all. I didn't come here expecting to qualify well at all. I think a real case can be made, Harvick and us. We passed more cars in a shorter period of time than anybody else did yesterday, we just didn't get a chance to see it through. I have reason to be optimistic even though we had a bad event. I have reason to be optimistic."
KEVIN ONLY LED SOMETHING LIKE FOUR LAPS LAST YEAR, DOES THAT LEAD TO THE PREVIOUS THEORY THAT THE RACE DOESN'T BEGIN UNTIL ABOUT 25 OR 30 TO GO? "Last year's race was a pretty unique race. The last 40 laps were just incredible and to have as much to do with surviving as anything. The race is important. The only way to figure out what you've got is run in the front and people need to see that you can run fast and that they'll go with you when it's time to go. It worked out last year for Kevin and for us too. We finished third and I'm not sure we ever led a lap. And Mark for that matter, I'm not sure until 20 or 30 to go we never saw him. A lot of that is situational and some of that is waiting until the right time."
ON KNOWING WHICH LINE TO DRIVE AND WHICH GUY TO GO WITH: "I think we saw yesterday that the top line would get moving pretty good and you had a choice. You could stay in that top or you could go to the bottom and try to make something happen. Sometimes guys would go to the bottom and make something happen and it would work out for them, sometimes it wouldn't. It's hard to know what the guy behind you is going to do. And making the right move has as much to do with the guy behind you as the guy in front of you and it's hard to know until make a move. Understanding what your car will do is very important. If there is any way to figure out what the guy behind you is going to do, that's exceptionally important as well."
ON FEWER OWNERS IN THE FUTURE OF THE SPORT: "I think that we are to the point where there are, what is it, six or seven owners that are highly vested in the sport and that are building engines for a lot of teams and doing work for a lot of teams. I don't know that's a bad thing or a good thing, I don't know. Obviously it provides some financial stability by having teams with solid financial background other than just the sponsorship on the race car. I think what really matters is what is the competition on the track. In a perfect world I guess we would have 43 car owners but the problem with that is that there is a lot of instability with that. When you have Hendrick, and you have Roush, and you have Childress, and Gibbs and those guys that have well run businesses with a tremendous amount of stability, I think that provides stability for the sport as well. I understand the nervousness about not a lot of car owners and I think it's justified, the nervousness. But there are positives to it as well. I do think we get closer every day to having less teams in the future than we had in the past."
DO YOU APPRECIATE HOW DALE JARRETT MUST FEEL TODAY? AFTER RACING INTO HIS LAST DAYTONA 500? "I can appreciate how good he feels about getting into the race with all the pressure. That pressure has been on him for a long time. It's been on him for eleven months, ten months. It hasn't just been this week. Those things have a way of snowballing and getting bigger, and bigger and bigger. To be able to get into the biggest show of the year, that's pretty important. I'm glad for him. I think Dale Jarrett has been an incredible figure for our sport. He's done good things off the track and on the track. I think the garage in general is glad he's in it."
ON THE CAR OF TOMORROW: "I think the Car of Tomorrow has a lot of promise. I think the more teams learn about the car, the better it's going to get. I feel like the racing down here is going to be exciting. I think it's going to be an opportunity to have a great finish. And there's going to be a lot going on in the middle of the race even though I think there's going to be times its going to be single file, there's still going to be a lot going on. The strategy of what we saw yesterday with the top and the bottom, that's going to come into play. I think that bottom is always going to be open and there's going to be times when people just don't want to ride around anymore they want to make something happen. I think the two-grove racing is going to be pretty exciting."
IN THE PRE-SEASON BRIAN FRANCE SAID THAT DALE JR. RUNNING WELL WILL MAKE THE TELEVISION RATINGS GO UP AND THE MERCHANDISING SALES GO UP AND ALL THIS OTHER STUFF. HIM RUNNING WELL, DO YOU THINK IT MAKES THE SPORT THAT MUCH STRONGER, HIM BEING COMPETITIVE? "I think there is certainly a Junior factor. I don't think we can deny that. He is obviously the most popular driver and he has a huge following. If our sport is not stronger than just one person, then we have major problems. I mean our sport can't be about one person; it's got to be about a group of people as any sport. It can't be about one. He is a huge factor. I'm not sure his souvenir sales and that retail side of it helps anybody but him and the people that are selling the product. It certainly doesn't help Matt Kenseth or me that he is selling more product.
"Certainly the more people who tune in the better it is for all of us, there's no question about that. But that whole retail business, that's a whole other animal that's a pretty big problem at the moment. It's gone downhill rapidly and it's not doing what it ought to be doing."
ON THE LIKELIHOOD THAT THE TRACK CONDITIONS WILL BE SIGNIFICANTLY SLICKER ON SUNDAY AND HOW HE EXPECTS THE CAR TO PERFORM: "I think it's going to be harder. This track gets slick and it gets real slimey. These cars don't handle all that great and the challenge is only going to get bigger. In addition to that you are going to have 43 cars on the track. There is a major difference between 28 and 43. It's a big difference and that's going to make it harder as well."
CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOW THE CAR SEEMS TO SUCK UP FASTER THEN WHEN YOU GET CLOSE IT BOGS DOWN? "I think that's common with any car that we've had down here. The closer they get to a car they kind of bog down. I don't think that's unique to this car. You do get a bigger run with this car, which opens the door for more good things to happen as far as passing. They do drive different and they do draft different.
"There's no question, but it's not a whole world of difference. The strategy is going to be different. The opportunity to pass is different. We saw two races yesterday that had almost the exact same ending, like a two-lap shootout at the end. In one of the races the front two cars just drove off from the others and in the other race the guy leading the race didn't win it. It's very situational and learning what these cars need is going to be very important."
DID THEY ASK YOU IF YOU KNOW WHAT PROBATION IS? "What is probation?"
WELL, WE APPARENTLY HAVE A NEW PROBATION RIGHT? "I don't know. My belief is that probation means if you get in trouble you're in bigger trouble. I hope I don't get myself in that situation to find out. I'm not real sure what probation means. It seems like there's probation and there's double probation and then there's double secret probation. I don't know what it means. I guess the fines get bigger. That's the only thing I can figure out."
ON THE FACT THAT NASCAR SAID THEY WERE GOING TO BE A LITTLE MORE LENIENT AND HIS THOUGHTS ON THE PENALTIES ISSUED THIS WEEK: "Had the on-track stuff happened during an event, the leniency would not have been there. With pit crews on pit road, I don't think the leniency would have been there. I think the factor that it was during practice made a huge difference there. Then what goes on in the trailer stays in the trailer, that is a new strategy that I support. I think when I go up to have a conversation with NASCAR or with another driver I believe that conversation should stay there. Whether I'm being asked to have the conversation or whether I'm holding the conversation, I think that conversation ought to stay there. It's my opinion that we can resolve differences and deal with issues better when we can shut the door somewhere and have the conversations. I support that. I do think there is a line that has to be drawn in the sand, what's acceptable and what's not acceptable. I think the drivers need to understand what's acceptable and what's not acceptable and it's a little gray right now. I want to make sure I understand the rule."
CAN YOU PROVIDE SOME INSIGHT ON WHAT WINNING THIS RACE IN 2002 MEANT TO YOUR BROTHER AND WHAT IT MEANS TO HIM NOW? "Obviously he would be a lot better answering that question. It is a different deal to say I'm a Daytona 500 winner or to be introduced as a Daytona 500 winner. That puts you in a different category. Ward didn't win a lot of races but he won some big ones. He won the Southern 500. He won the Daytona 500. Those are big races. It without a doubt puts you in a different category."
-credit: gm racing