WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Burton, a 39-year-old driver from South Boston, Va., comments on the recent terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. A graduate of Hargrave Military Academy, in ...
(No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Burton, a 39-year-old driver from South Boston, Va., comments on the recent terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. A graduate of Hargrave Military Academy, in Chatham, Va., Burton attained the rank of First Lieutenant his senior year and was the top-ranked marksman on the school's skeet and rifle teams. Burton also talks about Sunday's race at Dover Downs and his outlook for the remainder of the 2001 campaign.
"It was just a senseless attack on civilians," Burton said. "Our country has fought for people's freedom all over the world. How many countries could we have taken over if we had wanted to? We were attacked by some group that has no regard for women, children or their families. As far as I'm concerned, it was a huge act of cowardness.
"I loved the military part of school. I had offers to go on to VMI or West Point, but I was only 19 years old, so I decided to find my own way. Looking back on military school, I might not have liked everything that went on then, but it taught me a lot about life. Our commandant my senior year was a retired U.S. Marine Sergeant Major who fought in Korea and Vietnam. You walked the straight line for him or else.
"We only got to go home a few times a year, and I learned a lot about my strengths and weaknesses. I learned about the chain of command. Whether you're talking about family or business or whatever, you need to understand the chain of command. I also learned a lot about organized structure.
"I have a passion for our military history. I watch the History Channel religiously. I feel indebted to the people who from the revolutionary war until now gave up their lives or a big part of their lives for our freedom.
"We don't have a clear, defined enemy this time. It's not like it was in World War II. Folks are walking around with us who are the enemy and we don't even know it. I'm sure we have enemies in the infrastructure of our state and federal governments and we don't even know it. There's not a clean and defined enemy to attack. We'll have to use some type of an underground network and figure out who they are and act accordingly.
"I don't think this will affect our sport in any way other than an economic way. We've got to have sponsors, and we were already a little downhill on finding sponsors like it was. We just can't let this alter our lifestyles. If we do, we've let 'em win.
"I called a gunshop last week in Charlotte. I wanted to get some mounts to go on the scope of my rifle. The guy who ran the place was so busy he couldn't come to the phone right away. He said he sold more ammunition from Wednesday through Friday last week than he would normally sell in two months. I'm not sure those terrorists really knew what they were getting into.
"I watched a lot of TV over the weekend like everybody else to keep up with what was going on. I think you're going to see more and more people showing more and more patriotism. I've ordered an American flag and Virginia flag for my office, and I'm going to fly the all the time now.
"I'm sure it's had an impact on all the children. My daughter, Sarah, is 15 and goes to private school. Two of her friends had uncles who worked in the World Trade Center. One of the men was late to work last Tuesday and as fate had it, the other one was out of town, but it still had an impact on those girls.
"My son, Jeb, is nine and he asked me if I had enough guns. I told him I had plenty and then we talked some. He's seen some of what went on on TV. He got a flag that he holds out the window of the car when I take him to school now. We've seen flags everywhere, and I think everybody is more united now than I've seen them in a long time.
"I'm sure grownups can't really understand the magnitude of what happened unless they were there to see it first hand. We've driven by the Twin Towers before when we were in New York for the Winston Cup Awards Banquet at the Waldorf in December. You had to look so high just to see the blue sky when you looked up at the World Trade Center. It's just unbelievable to me that people could be so vicious to use a public airline as a missile to destroy the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
"DaimlerChrysler has pledged $10 million to the recovery effort, and I think that's great. The more I'm around people from Chrysler and Dodge, the more I'm honored to be part of them. They have a wonderful spirit, and it's a powerful company. Maybe we need to get one of those Intrepids and put an M-50 on top of it and go take care of some unfinished business. "I think it'll be good to get back to business as usual this weekend at Dover. I think it'll be good for everybody, drivers and fans. Not that we're going to put a conclusion on what's happened, but it'll be good to get back to what everybody does.
"We haven't been that great at Dover (two top 10 finishes in 15 starts), but it's a tough place to get a handle on. The last race there, cars were hooked up on the bottom of the track, but other races there it looked like the top of the track was the way to get around. The new tires make it difficult to get comfortable and get the chassis right. You really have to drive different there with the new tires.
"We had a pretty good run going there last time. The 23 car spun in front of me, and the 6 car picked my rear wheels off the ground. To have a partially wrecked car and still finish in the top 15 (14th) was pretty good. We had worked our way up to sixth place, but I lost a lap when I spun out. I think we'll have a better handle on what to do this time. We're taking the same car back, and we learned a lot about what it takes to get hooked up there last time. I think we'll have a better motor package, and I think I know what the tires will and won't allow there now.
"We're just going to try to be more consistent these last 10 races. We're going to some more tracks where we're capable of winning. I wish we could go back to Darlington again, but we'll have to wait until next year for that. I think we're close to where we left off last season. I feel good about the team and the way everybody has worked so hard. I'd say we're about 85 percent of the way there now. We're doing a lot of building for next year, and we want to come out as strong at the start of 2002 as we end in 2001. "If we can win another race and be consistent in these last 10 races, then it will be a good year. It's so hard to win now that almost any year you can win a race, you've had a good year. We haven't come that close in the past at Dover, but I'm looking forward to racing there on Sunday."
(No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Marlin finished 32nd at Richmond International Raceway and dropped from third to fifth in the NASCAR Winston Cup point standings. He now trails fourth-place Tony Stewart by 54 points and point leader Jeff Gordon by 466. Marlin is the only driver who has remained in the top 10 in points all season. He is one of just six drivers to score 13 or more top-10 finishes in the first 26 races of the season. Marlin has scored just nine top-10 finishes in his 31 races at Dover and has never won at the Delaware track. His best Dover finish - fifth - has happened twice, most recently in June 1990. He has scored just one top-10 finish in the last eight races at Dover, sixth in June. He finished 37th in this race last year. Marlin comments on the recent terrorist attacks.
"I think we need to track 'em down and don't quit until we get 'em. If we don't, we'll get hit again. I'd say the only way it's going to affect NASCAR is with all the travel. It's going to be harder to fly for a couple of months. I'm glad we're going to race this week. Last weekend, it would have been tough, but we've got to go on. We'll be thinking about it, and I hope we get 'em back soon, but we need to get back to business as usual.
"We've run good at Dover, but the motor will break or something will happen, and we haven't had great finishes there. We should have been in the top five in both races last year. In one race we wrecked and the other we broke a distributor.
"We lost some points and dropped to fifth in the standings after that rotten luck we had at Richmond, but we've got 10 races to go and anything can happen. Heck, I think Goodyear has really done a good job with the tires this season. They've been consistent just about everywhere we've gone. They still fall off, but not as much as they used to.
"Looking at that makeup date for New Hampshire after Thanksgiving, it looks like Goodyear might need to go back to work and have us a snow tire ready for that one. Racing in New Hampshire in late November will be something different for everybody, but if that's when they want to do it, that's when we'll be there.
"Dodge has been doing pretty good at these races when it rains or is about to rain. We might really be hard to handle if it's snowing."