JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA SS met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed racing at Daytona, Jeremy Mayfield, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and other topics. ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO SATURDAY NIGHT'S ...
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA SS met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway and discussed racing at Daytona, Jeremy Mayfield, the NASCAR Hall of Fame and other topics.
ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO SATURDAY NIGHT'S RACE?: "I keep saying this every week, of course I haven't been in the media center the past couple weeks, but it's important for us to have a good race. We've been heading the wrong way lately. This is a big weekend and this is one of my favorite races. I was fortunate enough to win it one time and feel really good about our chances this race. We worked real hard on our speedway program and hopefully, I think our cars will be fast enough, we just have to make sure they drive well enough. That's going to be our focus."
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THE HEAT AT DAYTONA AT NIGHT VERSUS WHEN THE JULY RACE WAS DURING THE DAY?: "The cars are hotter then they were then, but we have more things to help the drivers than we did then as well so they kind of counteract each other. I like the morning because I can remember leaving here race day and being home, back in Charlotte, in time to be on the lake. It was kind of fun and coming down here was always kind of like a vacation. The teams, we would practice in the morning, the garage would be closed down by one o'clock or 12 o'clock, the way I remember it. Back then the teams weren't so big that they're families would come down and they would rent hotels on the beach and it was just a completely different environment, it was much more relaxed than it is now. This was almost like a race and an off-weekend at the same time. We don't really have that atmosphere anymore. The intensity has picked up so much and it's so competitive that there's never a relaxed moment. It was fun to race at 10 o'clock, at the same time I think the fans like the night race a lot better. Obviously, it gets cooler as the race goes on versus it used to get hotter as the race would go on. But you would be done really so it wasn't that bad. It is hot here, but it's just what we do."
WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE DAY AND NIGHT RACES ADOPT A MORE UNIFIED STARTING TIME?: "I may be wrong, but I feel like we have a more standard time than we previously had. It seems like we have a lot of two o'clock races, especially in the summer. I don't care, personally, I would love to race every week at 10 o'clock and be home. I'm sure most people in here would like that too. The real thing is what the fans want to see. I think a combination of day races and night races -- that's a really good thing. I think we have to be careful not to start the races too late on the west coast. Then again, it's important not to start them too late on the east coast and mess up the west coast. I don't know what the right answer is. For me personally the earlier the better or Saturday night races work great too because those few hours at home, with having children, that's a great thing."
WHAT IS YOUR REACTION TO THE NEWS ABOUT JEREMY MAYFIELD? WHAT DID YOU THINK WHEN YOU HEARD THE NEWS AND HOW COMFORTABLE WILL YOU BE WITH HIM ON THE RACE TRACK?: "I think it's important to understand what the ruling is -- I think once the ruling was made, there's been a lot of jumping to conclusions that what the judge said was that NASCAR's wrong, end of story. That's not the case at all. What the judge said was, or the way I viewed it, was that it is in question, the result can be questioned, but the judge did not say the result was wrong. The judge said it could be questioned and while it's being questioned, what do we do about it. The way I view it is that if and when he comes back NASCAR has every right to test him as many times as they would like to make sure that things are being done correctly and there's no drug problem on the race track. The only problem with that is that it's not an instant test.
"One thing that I disagree with the judge on is that my safety is important to me and if there's an instant test available then I think the judge's opinion is 100 percent right. There is no instant test available. At the same time, from Jeremy's (Mayfield) perspective, if the judge ruled that it can be questioned then it should be questioned and he should have the ability to look into it. If that's what the court's ruled. It's a tough situation for anybody to make that decision because he potentially puts my safety in jeopardy with that decision. The other decision potentially puts Jeremy's (Mayfield) career in jeopardy so what do you do. That's almost not a right answer.
"Sometimes you can make an answer, but neither one is 100 percent right and that's kind of the way I view it. The next step is going to be a really big step when the case continues. I am obviously not an attorney, but I don't know if there's going to be appeals, but ultimately, unless there is some agreement prior to that, it will eventually go to trial and that decision of that trial will be huge. I would love to have an instant test for anyone that's in question. At the same time, the ultimate question could be the court system and if the court system says, 'Hey, maybe we should look at it,' then I'm okay with looking at it."
DO YOU HAVE A PARTICULAR MEMORY ABOUT SOME OF THE LEGENDS THAT COULD BE NOMINATED FOR THE NASCAR HALL OF FAME?: "Cale Yarborough's got to be on the list. (Dale) Earnhardt's got to be on the list, Bill France Sr. and Jr. have to be on the list. There's a lot of people. Someone that I don't know if he'll be on the list or not because he never won enough championships and stuff like that, the guy that is in my hall of fame and I think should be in NASCAR's Hall of Fame ultimately is Buddy Parrott. He's done a lot for this sport, touched a lot of lives; been a really good person. Saw the sport grow, helped the sport grow in a lot of different areas and my sentimental favorite would be Buddy Parrott."
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT THE HALL OF FAME AND WHERE NASCAR IS TO FINALLY BE GETTING A HALL OF FAME?: "I think it's important for our sport to have a Hall of Fame and I can tell you from being in the sport that it would mean a lot to me to be included on a list. I'm not politicking to be on a list. When you're involved in something, you care about it then you would love to, later in life, be recognized for your contributions to it. Jeff Gordon, with his championships, that's a no-brainer, he's going to be in the Hall of Fame. There's going to be some other people, like I mentioned, Buddy Parrott that a lot of people wouldn't immediately think of being in the Hall of Fame but touched the sport in a lot of different ways. I think it's important for the fans to recognize and understand who those people were and how they affected the sport. I think it will open up the history of our sport to a lot of people that are new to our sport. It will remind a lot of people of the history that were here when it started. I think all those things are really important. It should be really hard to get in. I don't believe there should be strict criteria where you have to have won a championship because there are so many different ways that you can impact the sport. There's so many different people -- the media, the officials, race track owners, safety personnel. You just think about all the different people that have touched this sport. It's not just about the competitors. There's also a lot of people that have made this sport better that have never touched a steering wheel. It's important to be able to recognize those folks as well."
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE COURTS GETTING INVOLVED WITH WHO CAN RACE AND WHO CAN'T?: "I think if there is a question, that's why we have a legal system. We think a lot about our legal system being just about someone breaking the law, but also the legal system settles disputes. I wish our sport never had to go to court -- that would be a perfect world, but that's just not reality. When the courts get involved, their decision has to be respected and their decision has to be understood. You can disagree with it, but you have to respect it and you have to abide by it. I believe that if I was in Jeremy's (Mayfield) position, I wouldn't hesitate to question it -- why not? I wish we weren't in this situation, but we are."
DO YOU AGREE WITH THE JUDGE CONCERNING THE HARM TO JEREMY MAYFIELD'S REPUTATION VERSUS ANY RISK ON THE OTHER DRIVERS?: "I agree with it if and only if Jeremy Mayfield or anyone that has tested positive for drugs can be tested soon enough, often enough, to ensure that he can never be on the race track at a time that he would test positive for drugs. If it takes, you will have to excuse me because I don't understand the whole process or how long it takes. If it takes 72 hours, in my world, in this case and nothing against Jeremy (Mayfield), I consider Jeremy (Mayfield) a friend of mine, but 72 hours from him being on the race track, if that's how long it takes to get a result then he should be tested. And 24 hours after that he should be tested again and 24 hours after that it should be tested again and 24 hours after that it should be tested again. I don't consider that harassment. The fact of the matter is that he failed a drug test and that opens the door to question. I deserve to 100 percent know that he is 100 percent clean and so he should be tested soon enough, early enough, often enough to where he can never be on the race track while he is using drugs."
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR BIG WRECK AND CAN YOU NOT THINK ABOUT THAT THE NEXT TIME YOU RACE?: "There's a couple different ways to look at it -- my view is that I know I'm going to wreck, I know that's part of racing, I want to try to learn from it and not ignore it. I want to look at all the stuff that happened prior to the wreck, during the wreck and after the wreck and how could I have done something better because I think that's how I get from being in the wreck again. If I do get in a wreck again, that is how I learn and not get injured. My big wreck was in Late Models, I broke my back racing Late Models and I did that because I installed the seat belts improperly. That was my lesson and I learned the hard way that you have to make sure and do everything right and when you think you're doing it right then you have to assume you're not and go check after yourself. I've never forgotten that. Not because of the nights I spent in the hospital, but because of the lesson that I learned that you have to always question yourself. That wreck ultimately, as silly as this sounds, was good for me. It made me look at not only safety differently, but it made me look at me differently. Instead of being hard-headed and saying this is the way you're going to do it, you need to really look into it and research it in everything that you do. I don't want to be in a wreck, I'm not excited about being in a wreck, but at the same time, I know I'm going to be in a wreck. It's just part of the deal."
WHERE DID THAT WRECK HAPPEN?: "That was at Orange County Speedway in 1989 or something like that."
WHAT WILL THE REACTION BE IF JEREMY MAYFIELD COME BACK?: "I think I understand what you're saying, but I want to make sure that I 100 percent understand. I think that most people believe in drug testing and I think most people believe in the results of drug testing and when you really start looking into it, there's very few cases that you can go back and say that the test was inaccurate. The evidence supports that testing normally is right. And by the way, the judge didn't rule that the testing was wrong. That's what's difficult about this thing is that we have to look at the policy and figure out how it can not be questioned again. I don't know how to do that. Whatever the means were to question it, we have to close that loop.
"At the same time, we have to make sure that you're assumed innocent and we have to make sure that we're doing everything in our power to return the proper result. It's okay to go the extra mile to do that. There was an 'A' sample and there was a 'B' sample. I don't know what the extra mile is, but we should assume innocence even after the first test is positive, we should still assume innocence and do the next test. I think that was done, but it's in question somehow and NASCAR is going to have to look at what is being questioned and why is it being questioned and figure out the best way to close that up because we can't go through this every time there's a positive test."
WHAT WOULD YOU TELL DANICA PATRICK IF SHE ASKED YOU IF SHE COULD DO THIS AND WHAT WOULD YOUR WIFE, KIM, TELL HER?: "She don't want to ask Kim because she wouldn't like the answer. I don't know if she can do it. I think Danica (Patrick) can only answer that question and if she decides that she wants to look at this then what she needs to do is drive one of these things. She needs to go to a race track somewhere that you can test, Pikes Peak or wherever, just go somewhere and sit in one of these things and drive it. Until you do that, you can't make a determination whether or not number one, you like it and number two, you think you can be effective at it. She could do that under the cloche of darkness and no one would ever know about it. If she didn't want anybody to know about it, she could make that happen. She's run really well this year, she has silenced some of her critics because of the way she's run this year. She is certainly a much sought after driver due to the attention that she draws. She could demand some things from car owners and make it happen. One of the things, if I was her and what I would be looking at is if I'm going to consider it then I better get all the information. The only way to get information is to get in the seat and go out and drive the car. It doesn't matter if you drove a Nationwide car five years ago -- you need to drive one of these things and see what it's like. Until she's done that she doesn't know if she can do it. I don't know if I could drive an IRL car. I have no idea, I would have to sit in it and number one, see if I liked it and number two, see if I could be effective at it. If she's going to come here, that's what she needs to do. If she's even going to consider coming here, that's what she needs to do."
HAVE YOU BEEN DRUG TESTED SINCE JEREMY MAYFIELD'S SUSPENSION?: "I don't know. What race was the suspension? Darlington. I don't know."
HAVE YOU NOTICED THE PROCESS HAS BEEN INCREASED WITH MORE PAPERWORK?: "I'm rolling through my head and it's not that I'm dodging the question, I just want to answer it correctly. I don't think I've been tested since then, but I could be wrong about that. I know some of the dates, but I don't think I have. I could be telling you wrong. I haven't seen anything different from the first time. Nothing that was noticeable to me."
-credit: gm racing