FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES July 2, 1999 Daytona International Speedway Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 Exide Batteries Taurus, goes into Saturday night's Pepsi 400 fourth in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings, 240...
FORD RACING NOTES AND QUOTES July 2, 1999 Daytona International Speedway
Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 Exide Batteries Taurus, goes into Saturday night's Pepsi 400 fourth in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings, 240 points behind leader Dale Jarrett. Burton spoke about rebounding from his recent troubles and what it will take to win this weekend.
99 JEFF BURTON -- Exide Batteries Taurus -- "It doesn't surprise me that Jeff Gordon has put a string together of top-two finishes. It doesn't surprise me in the least. They're a great race team that struggled early in the year with some strange things, kind of like we're struggling right now. They've turned it around, which means to me that we can turn it around. It doesn't surprise me that they've put this run together and it won't surprise me if we can fix our program. I'm not saying we're gonna go out and win 10 of the next 16 races, I'm just saying that I think we'll have the chance to win some races. The way that they fixed their program that's what we've gotta do to our program." WHAT'S YOUR REACTION TO THIS BEING THE FIRST NETWORK PRIME-TIME TELECAST? "This sport is growing so fast I can't keep up with it. It's amazing. You want to applaud NASCAR and we want to do all those things, but the fact is this is a heckuva product. This is a product that once you get into it, you like it and it's hard to turn away from it. The fact of the matter is it's great competition and it's a sport that you can watch and feel good about it. I'll be honest, it's hard for me to watch and NBA game and know the coach had this kind of problem and the owner had that kind of problem and two of the players were in jail last year. It's hard for me to watch that. It's hard for me to get excited about and I think it's hard for a lot of Americans to get excited about." ARE YOU GUYS INTERESTED IN WHAT THE RATINGS ARE? "We don't come here looking to do something to improve the ratings, but when we leave here if someone tells me I'll listen with great interest. It's important for our sport to continue to grow and that means it's important for every driver and every car owner to do what it takes to help that. I think this sport is good enough that we don't have to do anything special. We just come here and race and do what we always do and the races take care of themselves." CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE CHESS MATCH THAT IS INVOLVED WITH RACING AT THIS PLACE? "Here's the problem. The problem is if you follow one guy, you never find your way in the front because when you're following somebody there's always somebody in front of you. It is a chess match for a majority of the race because this is a race that track position halfway through doesn't mean anything as long as you don't go a lap down. If you're in that lead group, it doesn't matter if you're running 10th or 20th, it doesn't matter. The chess match comes during that time, putting yourself in a position that is as safe as possible, putting yourself in a position you're comfortable with and running with a guy you're comfortable with. Late in the race, you look at pictures for this race and you never see 20 cars going across the line at the same time. It's always four or five cars in that picture. You've gotta be in that picture. The real chess match is getting to that position late in the race and then trying to make the most of it. This isn't a 20-car race to the finish, it'll turn into a three or four-car race out of turn four and you've gotta be one of those on the 389th mile. That's the hard part, putting yourself in that position at the right time." WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF LATE IN THE RACE? "It changes every race. It could be with 30 miles to go, it could be with two miles to go. It changes. If the guy running second with 10 laps to go decides to make a move, there are gonna be more cars dueling to get themselves in position than if those first cars stay in line, so you never know what's gonna happen in front of you that's gonna impact where you need to be. That's what makes it so hard. I was running fourth at Talladega and was in really good shape, all the cars were lined up. Then a caution comes out late and I finish 11th, but I had myself in position and did what I needed to do but then I didn't do a good job after the caution came out. It's so hard to make all that happen. It's so hard to figure out how to do that when there is always four or five cars that are just faster than everybody else. It's hard to see that another "car is faster than somebody because we're all running together. It's not like at Charlotte when you know who the fastest car is. A lot of times in this race you don't know who the fastest car is and when you don't have one of the fastest cars it becomes harder to position yourself." WHAT ABOUT EARNHARDT AND THE RESULTS HE'S HAD ON RESTRICTOR-PLATE TRACKS THIS YEAR? "He's always been good on these race tracks. He's good everywhere, but he's great here. That will be a car to beat, there's no question about it. I've watched more Daytona and Talladega film than I care to talk about and the fact is he consistently finds himself in a position where he's leading races. He's got a fast car, but at the same time he's really good at it." CAN YOU LEARN FROM HIM? "I try to. I try to learn from everybody. That's why I watch so much film about it. I don't know if my car has never been fast enough or I just don't know what I'm doing. It's one of the two. We continually work to make our cars faster and we've run better as we've done that. I can't say we've had better finishes because of it, but we've run better. It's just hard. This is really hard racing. The other thing is, and I believe this and I'm not downgrading what Dale Earnhardt has been able to do, but when you see that 3 car and you're behind him when he makes a move you are more apt to go with him. You never see Earnhardt hung out. If you watch Mark Martin, he gets hung out a lot more than Dale Earnhardt does. I think people see that car and they know it's fast, so when he makes a move he has less risk because people go with him and that's a huge factor." WHAT IF IT'S THE 3 CAR AND THE 6 CAR AND YOURSELF IN A THREE-WAY BATTLE. DO YOU HAVE TO GO WITH MARK? "It's my discretion to go with whoever I want to go with and at the end of the race no one comes to me and yells, 'Why did you go with who you went with?' Mark and I work together really closely and we try to help each other, but we also understand that when it's not in your best interest to help your teammate in a restrictor-plate race, you don't do it. You've gotta help yourself. There have been times where I've hung Mark out at Daytona and Talladega and there are times he's hung me out. It's just part of the deal. It's just what you have to do. I understand that and he understands that. We have to do what's best for ourselves." WHAT ARE YOU WATCHING FOR IN FILM? "I'm not sure, to be honest. I'm watching it to learn. I watch Daytona and Talladega films as a learning process. A quarterback can go and throw a football. He can lift weights and he can do things to prepare himself. We can't go to Talladega and test with 30 cars, you just can't do it. The only way to learn is to try and observe it and learn as much as you can from an event that happened in the past and then try to apply it. That's the only opportunity to learn and the only way I know how to try to learn. A lot of times when you run a race your perception of what happened is really different than what actually happened because you're so focussed on what you're doing. When you go back and watch the whole race you see things you didn't see before. There is a whole lot to learn in all kinds of racing -- Charlotte, Michigan, everywhere." IS IT MORE IMPORTANT AT A PLACE LIKE THIS? "It's definitely more important at a place like this. It's really easy to know how to win at Charlotte. I'm not saying it's easy to win at Charlotte, I'm saying it's easy to know how to win at Charlotte. If you make your car go through the corner, then you can win. You can do it with 50 less horsepower. What makes you win here is speed and being in the right position at the right time. The speed is a different type of speed than what you've gotta have at Charlotte. When you're not running fast here you don't know why. When I'm not running fast at Charlotte, I can tell you exactly why. I'm not saying I can fix it, but I know why we're not fast enough. Here, I don't have any idea and that's what makes this place and Talladega so hard." THIS PLACE CAN GET PRETTY PHYSICAL CAN'T IT? "This is way more physical than it ought to be for sure. It's a fast race track and this turns into a real big Bristol. It really does." DO GUYS FORGET WHAT THEY'RE DOING OUT THERE OR ARE THEY JUST CAUGHT UP IN THE MOMENT? "I agree. I think that we should be smarter than we are some times. Nobody wrecks anybody intentionally, but late in the race your limit of how far you will go before you cross that line gets smaller and smaller and smaller. So as you make that line thinner, the chance for a mistake is there. It's a lot easier to cross that line and that's what happens. Drivers are competitive people and our job and our life is built around finishing the best you can. When you've got one lap to go...the thought process is to go get all you can get. You have to be able to shut that off and say, 'Alright, I finished fifth and that's all I can get. I need to be happy with that.' The best drivers know when to shut it off and that's one of the hardest thing about being a driver -- knowing when to shut it off."
Dale Jarrett, driver of the No. 88 Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus, comes into Saturday's race with a 157-point lead over second-place Bobby Labonte.
88 DALE JARRETT -- Quality Care Service/Ford Credit Taurus -- HOW ABOUT YOUR LUCK HERE AT DAYTONA? "It's been a great race track. We've run well and that's the main thing. Even though some finishes don't show how you've run, every time that we've had problems here and gotten in these accidents we've been running in the top five. If you put yourself in the top five, then you have chances to win. Just like last year in this very race, even though it was in October, we were sitting in second with a car that I felt was very capable of making a pass in the last few laps with help behind me and you cut down a tire. There's nothing you can do about that. It's a fun race track. It's nervewracking racing, but it's fun especially when you have a good car and you know when you get down to the end you're gonna have a chance to challenge." HOW ABOUT RACING ON PRIMETIME NETWORK TV? "It's where the sport has come and what it's about. I think that makes it more interesting. Even though we raced at night here last year it wasn't in July. It's gonna be hot still with a chance of thunderstorms, but it's gonna be a lot cooler for everybody and it's gonna be exciting. This is July Fourth weekend and everybody is excited about that opportunity." WHAT ABOUT THE EXPOSURE? "It continues to amaze me what opportunities come along for this sport and how the nation has kind of taken the sport and said, 'This is what we want to follow right now.' I think the TV ratings show that and the fan support we get at the race track is unbelievable. I've never seen this many people in Daytona Beach in July. We always come down for a vacation with our kids and there have been more people here all week than I've ever seen before." AT SONOMA LAST WEEK THE RACE TOOK A PHYSICAL TOLL. WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE HERE? "It's gonna be nice, although it's still gonna be hot and humid here. It's still gonna take its toll. Humidity is probably one of the worst things we encounter inside the, so it makes it more difficult. But you've got a 400-mile race and physically it's not that demanding on you. It's not like Sonoma. Those were hot temperatures and you're working every lap. There's no time that you can rest whatsoever and then, on top of that, we throw in a 20-minute break where you have to sit there in all the heat so that was even worse yet. It was difficult, but that shows who is ready to go and who isn't." HOW DID YOU FEEL WHEN YOU GOT OUT OF THE CAR? "I was ready to get out, but for more reasons than one. It wasn't just the heat, I was tired of fighting mine (the car) all day. I was fine, but I was just glad it was over."