JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, was honored with a roast in honor of his 500th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start in the Pepsi 500 at Auto Club Speedway. KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS: "We would actually call him The Old Man,...
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, was honored with a roast in honor of his 500th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start in the Pepsi 500 at Auto Club Speedway.
KEVIN HARVICK, NO. 29 SHELL-PENNZOIL IMPALA SS:
"We would actually call him The Old Man, whatever you want to call him, on our team because he does have twice the amount of starts that I do and I probably have twice the amount of starts that Clint (Bowyer) does. Like Dale (Jarrett) said, it is hard to have a roast on Jeff because he is such an even keeled type of person across the board in competition and everyday life. He has brought a lot to our race team.
"We did make mad one day, he never really shows you that he is actually mad. He is always pretty calm no matter how mad he is or how calm he is, he is pretty much the same person. We took his shoes one day, I think today he still has the same shoes that he had from the first of this year, he has the same racing shoes that he had from the first of this year. He has this fetish about his shoes it seems like.
"So, we took his shoes one day, I took them. We made up a fake eBay auction. We put them on eBay. He was pretty mad that someone had stolen his shoes, out of his locker and he was head huntin' for the person that stole his shoes and wanted them pretty much fired, I think is a polite way to put it.
"We stole his shoes and took them over the (Matt) Kenseth's motorhome. Matt put them on and we took pictures of them and then put this thing up on eBay, we had control of it the whole time. Little did he know that we were the ones that stole his shoes.
"That is about the best story I have. Jeff has obviously been a big part of everything we have done at RCR in turning it around. We he first came in, we were like "Oh God", because none of us really knew Jeff, we didn't really know what to expect. Once he got there, he immediately turned the impressions that you hear from the outside coming in. That was kind of the first time I really learned the lesson in life that you don't really know the person until you actually are around them. To be around him has helped me more as a person than probably anything that I can remember in my racing career. It has been a great relationship. We are all good friends. Among the three of us, we probably have some of the best communication in the garage and off the race track. It has been fun to be a part of even though we refer to him as the Old Man in the driver's stable.
"Thanks for everything you have done, we really appreciate it. He might be around for 500 more; we can't convince him to go do anything else. He doesn't know what he wants to do."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIEL'S IMPALA SS:
"He is the Mayor! First of all I am too stupid to get to 500 starts, that is a long time. I will be doing something else. Everybody looks up to him. Like Kevin said, when he came on board, we were all 'Like man, is that a dead horse or what'. It is just unbelievable to see what he was able to do. I think that is the neatest thing about Jeff and speaks volumes about the person that he is and the character that he has -- he didn't give up. He believed in himself and he made things happen. He turned RCR around and he been the best teammate you could ask for on both of our sides. I just think that is probably the coolest story about Jeff Burton is he didn't give up, he is back on top and he does deserve a championship. He has been there and done that. In our stable I think he is probably the strongest force we have right now. He has definitely pushed me to be better. I think Kevin can say the same thing. Every day you try to make yourself to keep up with both of your teammates. But when you have one that is as old as he is and he is whoopin' up on ya out on the race track, something is wrong. Just a lot of fun.
"I don't know exactly what you were thinking with the tennis shoes. Did you have them on the kid's section of eBay? You would have to be about a 12-year old to put them things on. Congratulations, that is what is in order and it is pretty cool.
"That is another thing about him, being that I am young, everybody says how nice he is, but he picks on me a lot. About every chance he gets. So I have to stay pretty sharp to keep up with him and dig back on him. He is definitely a person that you warm up to and he warms up to you. He'll look after you and go the extra mile to help you out when you need it. As a teammate it means a lot."
RICHARD CHILDRESS, TEAM OWNER RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING:
"I don't ever look at myself at the Boss; I look at myself as part of these guys right here. They told me to think of something funny about Jeff that you could say. I have a couple, I am not going to take as long as Clint, he took up all of our time, Jeff will want to say something at the end. I think it was '97; I hired this driver to drive our second car along with the No. 3 car. The first race, the first time out, this driver, I ain't going to use his name, but he won the truck championship a couple years earlier. First time out, first practice, I don't know if you remember this, but he just drills Jeff in the door. They come back in, he (Jeff) comes back over there to me and he says "What were you thinking putting that guy in that car?" I can' say really everything he said, cause he was a little furious. I don't know if ya'll have watched Jeff and how furious he can get, he gets in that car and he is his size, but if somebody really gets him hot, he is about 10 feet tall when he comes out of it, ask Clint. Speaking of that, we were negotiating with a driver a year ago to drive our fourth car, we were talking him about and things were moving along pretty good. Next thing I know, Jeff is over there and got him by the throat after the Indianapolis race, so much for that one.
"I can't thank him enough for what he has done for RCR. Kevin came along at the most crucial time, in 2001, and really helped keep us going. When we hired Jeff, he was the hardest driver in practice or anywhere on the race track. He is driving that car as hard as he can, you know you are getting everything out of it in practice, testing or wherever. That is the kind of driver he is and that is the kind of driver I like. Couple of people said when I was thinking about hiring him, why would I want to hire him? I watch all these different guys drive these race cars and he drives every lap whether he is running 15th or 20th or wherever, you can believe he is getting everything out of the car it will do.
"The thing about Jeff Burton and that is the thing anybody in the garage will tell you, he is going to race you like you race him. If you race him clean and hard, he is going to race you the same way. If you kind of push him around, even at a road course like Watkins Glen, he is going to shove you back. Ask that kid in the Nationwide car. I was really proud of him. I watch these guys, to me that was pretty cool. That is what you have to do right?
"Jeff, thanks for everything you have done for RCR and congratulations on a great career. One of my proudest moments would be to walk on stage in New York with you and Kim."
"Thank you to all you guys for coming. It means a lot to me to be a part of this sport. I love to compete. But what is really cool about this sport is the people. When you have been in the garage for a lot time, you have been racing for a long time; you realize that the people are what makes it work. To have two great teammates. When I was at Roush, Matt (Kenseth) and Mark (Martin) and I, I thought that was as good as it could get with teammates. These two guys have surpassed that. It is unbelievable how much support they give me. It is really amazing.
"Dale Jarrett being here, being a champion not only on the track but off the track. It really does mean a lot. AT&T involvement and believing in what Richard Childress Racing was about and could be about. It was a stormy night we went down and begged them to keep going with us. We didn't have the greatest year and we went down and said look, we are going to turn it around. We are going to make changes and it is going to get right and they believed in us. That means the world because not everybody wants to believe in a 38-year old race car driver, everybody wants the 12-year olds. AT&T stood behind us, that has been incredible.
"Richard giving a guy a chance to try get his career going again, will always be one of the highlights of my life in racing. For Richard Childress, a car owner you have so much respect for to look you in the eye and say 'Hey man, I still believe you can get it down' when really, very few other people believed that. Every lap I make, I will always remember that because that because I wouldn't be driving anymore with Richard's commitment. It is just that simple. Nobody else wanted to mess with and Richard still believed in me.
"It has been a lot of fun, I love what I do. I have no business doing anything else. This is what I like. My goal is to get about 800 starts. I think I can do that. How many years is that before I say that. Maybe 700, we will back up a little bit. Mark Martin told me he had 700. Again I appreciate everybody being here and hopefully we can get RCR a championship this year one of the three of us can, number one, get ourselves in the Chase and number two find a way to get it down. It would it mean as much to me for one of these guys to win as it would be for me to win because we truly are doing it as a company. The pressure is on us to get it done. Richard is giving the stuff, we just have to go get it done.
"We have been for the last six weeks or so, I won't say we have been in experimental mode, but we have been very open to ideas. We didn't feel like we were locked in the Chase by any means six weeks ago. But we did feel like we needed to improve. No matter how much we test, it is hard to simulate being in a race. We have been very much off of what we would consider our baseline stuff trying to find something. But not necessarily just because of our points situation. Because we weren't locked in when we kind of took that. We gambled a little bit and said we have to be willing to finish 30th running bad to go try and find a better run so we have kind of been in that mode for the last six-eight weeks.
"I think we have found some better ways to fun. Our results don't show it, but we ran better at Bristol this race than when we won in the spring. We ran better at Pocono, at Michigan. We ran well at Indy. We have actually run better in the last month than we did the month prior to that but our finishes aren't as good but we have actually ran better so I think we have learned some stuff."
-credit: gm racing