Daytona II: Jeff Burton - Thursday media visit

Jeff Burton, No. 31 AT&T Mobility Monte Carlo SS, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway. He discussed his thoughts on the crew chief suspensions, how bonus points will affect the Chase for the Championship, his recipe for...

Jeff Burton, No. 31 AT&T Mobility Monte Carlo SS, met with members of the media at Daytona International Speedway. He discussed his thoughts on the crew chief suspensions, how bonus points will affect the Chase for the Championship, his recipe for driving this track and other topics.

ON IF HE THINKS IT IS FAIR OR NOT THAT THE SUSPENDED CREW CHIEFS ARE ON THE GROUNDS: "I don't think if you are suspended you should be suspended. I don't have any problem with anybody doing what they have been doing because they are following the rules but the rules need to be changed so that if you are suspended you should have to be off the grounds. You shouldn't be allowed to be in the facility because in all fairness, other than being able to look at the car, a crew chief being at the facility is every bit as effective as him being in the trailer. So nobody officially, to me, has been suspended."

ON IF HE HAS ANY CONCERNS AS A DRIVER THAT IF THEY DON'T IT THE WAY THAT IT WAS INTENDED THE SITUATION COULD ESCALATE: "I don't think so. I actually think the suspension is the least amount of the penalty. I think the points, that's the big part and even if they didn't suspend the crew chiefs, the effort to not go around NASCAR is going to be huge because loosing 100 points or 25 points or 50 points is a tremendous amount of points to be giving away. So I don't think the suspension acts as as much of a deterrent as the points."

ON HAVING BONUS POINTS GOING INTO THE CHASE. HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK ABOUT THAT? "We don't really think about that a lot. I mean, we are here to do the best we can every week anyway. After the race I heard his crew chief talking about how they made a gamble because they felt like they were secure in the Chase and they could try to get a win and help them out where they would start in the Chase. That is good strategy. I still think it is still too early to be declaring yourself in the Chase. I think there is a lot of racing to be done right now and for us we want to get as many wins as we can just for the sake of winning. Obviously it pays the most amount of points but we come to the race and do that every race anyway and we just do the best we know how."

DO YOU FEEL THE DIFFERENCE IN POINTS WITH A WIN VERSUS A TOP FIVE? "Well winning is winning man. I mean that's why we're here. You guys make more out of points than we do as far as the difference between five points and getting five more points and another position. Having that trophy, that's irreplaceable. They never take it away. That is what we are here to do. We are here to win races and if we can't win we finish second. If we can't finish second, we finish third and so on. So winning is huge not only from a points standpoint and from a where you start in the Chase standpoint but that is what wakes you up in the morning. The opportunity to go compete and try to win, I mean that is what it is all about."

WHAT IS YOUR RECIPE FOR THIS TRACK AND HOW YOU DRIVE IT? "Well I think handling is going to be really important. I mean we saw it in the 500. The last 50 laps got really interesting. Prior to that handling was really important and our whole focus today and leading into tomorrow's qualifying is to get the car to drive well in the traffic, get it to handle well, get it to where we can drive different grooves, the bottom, the top, the middle. I just want to be able to drive my car wherever I want to be able to drive it. The only way to be able to do that is to make it handle well."

IS IT GOING TO MAKE ANY DIFFERENCE TO YOU NOT COMING BACK HERE WITH THIS CAR? "Well it's going to add to that preparation level a little bit certainly. This is the last race with this type of car so we have to, as every team does, we have to prioritize our investment and we have to be smart about how we spend our money so the amount of preparation that we put into this race isn't as much as it would have been had we been coming back with these cars or if we had been given the Car of Tomorrow because this is it. It doesn't make a whole lot of sense to spend a tremendous amount of money getting ready for this one race when we could be using that money to get ready for Talladega, be using that money to get ready for the future. So this technology that we were running here is something that we developed back in January. It is not what we developed in May. That is the biggest impact."

DOES IT SURPRISE YOU TONY STEWART IS THE ONLY DRIVER IN THE TOP 10 WITHOUT A WIN? DO YOU SEE A FACTOR IN WHAT HAS KEPT HIM OUT OF VICTORY LANE? "Well they have had some situations that have kept them out of victory lane. They have run well enough to win. They have led a lot of laps. They have been in a position to win a race. It isn't that they haven't run well. They just haven't had things go their way and that happens in this sport. You go through a period where you run well and can't get a win and then sometimes you go through a period where everything goes your way and you get wins that you don't deserve. It has a way of balancing itself out. The preparation level of that team, the speed is in that team to win races. They will get their share. I am not too worried about that for them."

DOES DENNY HAMLIN HAVE ALL OF THE MOJO WITH HIM RIGHT NOW? "I mean certainly those two teams are both very capable. This sport is about being hot at the right time. There are a lot of teams in the garage that have enough power to strike. There are several teams that may be hanging a little low right now that are flying under the radar but they can still win the championship and still get in the Chase. So there is a lot that is going to happen between now and then and I consider the No. 20 car to be a favorite to win a championship."

HOW MUCH DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE FOR YOU TO GO TO A TEST AT A NON-CUP TRACK AND NOT HAVE A TIRE THAT YOU KNOW THAT YOU ARE GOING TO RUN ON? "It makes a big difference. There are a lot of things that we do, I mean, everything that you do runs through the tire. The tire changes the way the car drives. The changes that you make in the car are usually influenced by the tire. It is way more efficient to test on the tire that you are going to be racing. There is no doubt about that. You have to have discipline. You have to test the right kind of things that are going to work with whatever tire. There are somethings that won't. There are somethings that you can be testing that on the wrong tire aren't effective at all. So it's a little bit of a guessing game to determine what you should be and what you shouldn't be testing without the right tire. When you need a test and you can't get the right tire, you just ha ve to go and do it. You have got to hope that you have got it figured out."

WHAT KIND OF THINGS CAN YOU LEARN ABOUT HAVING THE RIGHT TIRES? "I am not going to discuss that because there are some definite opinions that we have. We will keep those to ourselves."

ON CHICAGO NEXT WEEKEND:  "Chicago has been a really neat race track.  We
had a really good run there last year.  We ran second.  It has turned
into a really cool race track.  The grooves widened out.  We have got
multiple grooves now.  A lot different race track than it was when we
first started going there.  It is pretty slick.  That track even though
it is fairly new is pretty slick.  It doesn't have a tremendous amount of
grip.  I think it's pretty exciting racing because the cars don't drive
well.  It's a handful to get your car to drive the way that you want it
to drive.  Handling is going to be really important."

ON THE ATMOSPHERE OF THE 26TH RACE OF THE SEASON IN RICHMOND: "Well there is maybe two or three people that feel pretty good about things. They are going into the Chase and they are racing that race for one thing and that is to learn and to try to win a race. There is about eight or 10 that there is so much pressure that you can't even describe it. That is what sports are all about. It's either get it done or go home kind of an attitude. When you have to have that attitude, you know, you don't just have it that week you have it three weeks prior to it too and it all builds and it creates a highly pressure filled situation. That is why people like sports, to have that pressure and to have that intensity. It certainly is there for that race. There is no question."

HOW MUCH HAS THE AURA OF THAT RACE CHANGED SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE CHASE? "It's pretty big. What you have today is, you will have 14 maybe 15 teams that go to Richmond with a chance of winning the championship. Obviously they have to get their business done at Richmond but if they get their business done they can move on and have a chance to win a championship. That is a great difference than what it used to be. It used to be that maybe four or five at the most, going into 10 races after going all year thinking they had a chance to win a championship. There is a sense of excitement. There is a sense of enthusiasm. There is a sense of a new beginning. There is a sense of a second chance almost. It is a completely different feel."

THIS IS THE LAST RACE ON SUPER SPEEDWAY WITH THE CURRENT CAR. DO YOU THINK THAT WE WILL SEE MUCH CHANGE? "No. I think that we will see, the way the Daytona 500 was run, I think that is a lot of what you will see. I think that we will see more packs break out. I don't think we will see a tremendous amount of three wide/four wide stuff. We will on restarts or late cautions like we did in the 500. It could get pretty interesting. I think that handling is going to be so important that it is going to be hard to have big grooves."

SINCE THIS IS THE LAST TIME THAT YOU WILL BE RUNNING THE CURRENT CAR ON THIS SPEEDWAY, IS THAT A GOOD THING IN YOUR OPPIONION? "I don't know. Ask me after Talladega. It is too early to tell. I haven't driven the Car of Tomorrow on a superspeedway. I certainly haven't been on a race track with 42 other guys. I don't know what to expect. I don't have an opinion on that. I don't have enough information to have an opinion."

YOU TALKED ABOUT OWNERS BEING CAUTIOUS ABOUT WHERE THEY SPEND THEIR MONEY AND HOW THEY CAN SPEND IT. AS A DRIVER HOW AWARE ARE YOU OF HOW MUCH MONEY IS SPENT? "It is a balance. As a driver, you have to, what is the phrase? The squeaky wheel gets the grease? You have to demand that you have equipment that is capable of winning. You have to be part of the group that helps to determine that we have to do things better and where we are weak and in order to do that we have to spend money. So it is a balance between being completely blind and deaf to not caring what the money is. You know it is a little bit healthy to not care what it costs and just try to say we have got to have it. It is a balance between that and not worrying about it too much. You can't worry about it too much and be not aggressive enough worrying that finances can get out of hand quickly and you can be worried about that too much. As a driver I think it is important to help be part of the decision making process and where you need to be better and then the owner has got to find a way to gather the money up to find a way to do those things. I don't think it is fair to the owner for the driver to not have any awareness of it whatsoever because I don't care how much money you have you still operate within a budget. I mean if you had twice as much money as the next guy, you still operate within a budget. If you had half the money, you have to operate within a budget. The more of the budget restraints that you are under, the more important it is to be efficient as to how you operate that budget and more important it is to spend it in the right places. So even if you had the amount of money as somebody else, which not really anybody does, but if you did have that situation, you still get more benefit if you spend it wisely. I think the drivers being part of that and having some perspec tive of that helps move the ball."

DURING THE TIME THAT YOU HAVE BEEN IN MOTORSPORTS, DO YOU THINK FANS HAVE CHANGED? "I hate questions that lump everybody up in one group. I don't think that we have millions of fans that all think the same way. I think that we have millions of fans but they are all individual and they all have different opinions and some have changed and some haven't. I just hate lumping everybody up in one group."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton
Teams CIP