Daytona II: W. Burton, J. Gordon interview

WARD BURTON, NO. 0 NETZERO CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Note: Involved in wreck with Kasey Kahne in Turn 2 and goes to a back-up car. "I was just in a small draft. There were only four or five cars. I know Jimmy Spencer was behind me. The No. 9 car...

WARD BURTON, NO. 0 NETZERO CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO - Note: Involved in wreck with Kasey Kahne in Turn 2 and goes to a back-up car.

"I was just in a small draft. There were only four or five cars. I know Jimmy Spencer was behind me. The No. 9 car (Kahne) was a little bit lower than I was. He started to get loose and I was expecting him to just go on around. Well, when I started to go around the outside of him, the car over-corrected and it went straight for the wall and I was the buffer between him and the wall. And I believe what happened is that I climbed his nose and that's what got me airborne. I have not been able to see it. When it landed, I flat-spotted - well, busted four tires - and I lost the car again.

"All the Netzero Chevrolet guys have done a great job of having this back-up car that prepared that we could get out and make a few laps. The car actually feels pretty racey. I'm happy about that. We've got some unknowns, obviously, going into tomorrow but not as much as not being able to run at all."

WAS THIS AN HONEST MISTAKE ON KASEY'S PART? "Oh, he certainly didn't mean it. That's what race car drivers do when the darn thing gets ready to spin out you try to fix it. I don't think that the car was just spinning out unless they were trying something completely unreal or unconventional. It probably had a right rear (tire) going down or something."

WITH SUCH A SHORT AMOUNT OF TIME LIKE THAT, WHAT'S THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR YOU IN GETTING BACK OUT THERE WITH A SECOND CAR? "Well, (to see if) I'm okay and that I feel good, and I do. You want to make sure you don't have tire rubs or something crazy going on that'll make you pit early and obviously ruin a whole day. The time I won the 500 down here, I did not have the best car. The year before, I did have the best car and had a guy wreck me. So being in the right spot at the right time means a lot down here."

YOU HAD THE FIFTH FASTEST CAR BEFORE THE WRECK. HOW DOES YOUR BACK-UP CAR COMPARE? "I'll tell you what we need to start watching a little bit. The cars that have had the body work done that will go fast, might not be the ones that'll race well.

"The ones that can do both are the ones that have their package together. So I think some times when you see big numbers jump up, it can be somewhat misleading. And I really don't have a lot of interest in knowing where this one ran or where the other one ran in comparison."

YOU HAVE A LITTLE SCUFF ON THE NOSE OF THE BACK-UP CAR. DID YOU DO A LITTLE BUMP-DRAFTING OUT THERE? "I little scratch? Well, that's just the nature of being at Daytona."

CHAD KNAUS, CREW CHIEF, NO. 48 LOWE'S CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:

"We're okay. We don't have the speed that we want. The car is handling just incredibly well. Jimmie (Johnson) is real pleased with that. When we get on the straightaway, I don't know what it is - if it's a drag thing or horsepower thing or what it is - but we're just not getting down the straightaway. And, you know as well as I do that at restrictor plate races, you've got to go fast. You've got to get down the straightaway to complete the passes. The way the handling is in the car right now we can get set-up to get position on some other cars, but we've got to get some more speed to complete the passes."

ARE YOU WORRIED ABOUT STARTING 19TH? "Yeah, I'm always worried about starting that far back - especially at these restrictor plate races because it seems like at some of these race tracks as soon as some of these guys get in the cars, they take their brains out. So I'm a little nervous about that, but we'll just have to see how it plays out."

JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DUPONT/PEPSI CHEVROLET MONTE CARLO:

HOW DO YOU FEEL AFTER PRACTICE? "It's hard to really know with the track conditions the way they are now versus what they are going to be like at night. The track temperature is going to cool down. The track was really slick. A lot of guys were struggling with the handling. It's good. It gives us an opportunity to work really hard on the handling of the car. That's what I'm concerned with the most.

"Once you get through qualifying, you get your raw speed out of the car and it's all about being able to hold that thing wide open. We're close. We're real good. I'm pretty happy but we have to get it a little bit better."

ON THE ROLE OF THE DRIVER "It's all about a guy that knows how to use his mirrors and how to draft and use the air and can feel the car and try to get the car handling decent. It's hard to really make many changes that make a difference for the handling. Sometimes you just have to drive it different. Everybody thinks you just got to hold it wide open. Sometimes you can't hold it wide open. You got to figure out how to get the car working best through the corners that way. We're all out to try to do the same thing and get the most speed out of it, get out front and stay there."

ON HIS MIRRORS "I'm extremely finicky. That's probably my biggest pet peeve when it comes to Daytona and Talladega, the restrictor plate races. The mirrors are everything and being able to see the cars all the way around you. You can feel them a lot of times but sometimes it can be too late if you have too much momentum. Your spotter is there. I got a great spotter in Ron Thiel. Sometimes he has blind spots as well. I try to mirror up the car a lot. Flat mirrors are really important to me and left side mirrors and everything else we can do to see as much out of the back and sides of the car as possible.

"You can when you've cleared a car. You can feel when a car is starting to get up behind you or starting to get up behind or up beside you. It starts to slow your momentum down or speed your momentum up. Some of it you see in the RPMs. Some of it you just hear in the motor."

(ON PEOPLE FOLLOWING HIM WITH HIS PEFORMANCE IMPROVING "In my opinion when you come to restrictor plate races, your job is to make sure, no matter how much more power somebody may have or you may have over somebody else, it's how you keep them behind you. That's why those mirrors are so important. You got to use those mirrors to keep the guys behind you.

"If you don't give them an opportunity to let them get the momentum on you, then they're not going to pass you. You want guys to work with you and follow you and if you have a strong car then guys may have a tendency to do that a lot more to a point. Once it gets time to win, they're not going to work with you. They don't want to try to race the fastest car out there."

ON THE DIFFICULTY ON SPOTTING ALL THE COKE SPONSORED CARS PAINTED RED "As long as that blue one is out front, I don't care what the rest of them look like."

DO YOU HAVE AN OPINION ABOUT KYLE BUSCH MOVING INTO CUP? "If you can win a championship in Busch, you're ready to move up. It doesn't mean that you're going to come over here and dominate. It just means that you got enough experience, you learned how to win, and you learned how to race for a championship. I think that if you stay in a series too long, it can hurt you. I think one to two years in the Busch Series is good. Is one enough? Is two too many these days? The cars are very similar in a lot of ways.

"When you got a young talent it really comes down to sponsorship. The sponsors will dictate a lot if they want to stay in Busch another year and if they want him to be the driver or if the sponsors want to put him in a Cup ride and move him on to the next level. That's what Rick (Hendrick) looks for. He looks from feedback from his own knowledge and other people around him. If he came to us and we gave him that feedback, then we would do it."

ON TINA GORDON RACING TONIGHT IN THE BUSCH RACE "I haven't paid a lot of attention to it. I think that it's great. I love to see a female out there doing well and getting that type of experience. I'm not a big fan of these types of rules that we have for Daytona for the Busch cars. I'm not sure that's the best place to debut. But I wish her all the best and look forward to watching and see how it goes."

ON THE POINTS SYSTEM HELPING DRIVERS LIKE MICHAEL WALTRIP "The point system works out really good for those guys that are fifth or sixth in points on back to 15th. Everybody loves it. The guys that are in the top four or five are like 'I don't like this.' What you want to do is narrow down the number of people that you have to race for the championship. You want it to come down to you and one other guy or you and two other guys. That's the way it used to be. That's just a selfish thing as a competitor. It's going to take all of us some time to get used to this new method if they stick with it. It's very entertaining, it's very exciting and I think it does allow people to start off slow and come on strong. If they do it at the right time, they'll get themselves into the top ten. If they're still strong, they'll have a shot at winning the championship."

IN THE OLD FORMAT WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF A LONG SHOT? "Oh God yes. We'd be a big long shot. Not if we keep running the way we had the last three weeks. I'd say that's a lot of points to make up especially when you look at how consistent Jimmie has been and how consistent Junior has been. That's a lot of points to make up. That's why I'm sitting here liking the points right now."

-gm-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmy Spencer , Kasey Kahne