JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and discussed the tires, double-file restarts, Kevin Harvick's status and more. ARE TIRES GOING TO BE AN ISSUE? "I really don't believe ...
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and discussed the tires, double-file restarts, Kevin Harvick's status and more.
ARE TIRES GOING TO BE AN ISSUE? "I really don't believe there is any tire issue at all. I've been part of two of the tires tests here. The last two I was here and we ran full fuel runs with no tire issues whatsoever. I cannot see any tire issues. If we do have a tire issue in this first practice, this tire rubbers the track up a great deal so I can't see any problems for Sunday whatsoever."
HOW QUICK DOES IT PUT RUBBER DOWN ON THE TRACK? "This tire was designed to rubber the track up. It was designed to lay rubber down. You could see a definite difference just running seven or eight cars here to test, you could see the track change colors early. If you get 45 or 46 cars running it's going to rubber it up really quickly."
IT'S A BIG RACE, WITH YOUR POSITION IN POINTS HOW DO YOU APPROACH A RACE LIKE THIS? "I approach every race the same to be quite honest. It's clear to me that the Daytona 500 is huge, Indy is huge, Darlington is huge, Charlotte is huge but you can't do anything different for a particular race. If you can do something different for a particular race then you're not trying hard enough in the other races. Even though it is huge and even though it has a lot of prestige I don't approach it any different that I would any other race."
YOU SAID AFTER CHICAGO THAT YOU'VE HAD ENOUGH OF THE DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS. "I'm a race fan and I like watching racing and I really like the double-file restarts from the fans perspective. Even from a competitors perspective I'm good with it. It's just we've been on the wrong end of it for four weeks in a row and we've been in wrecks that other people have caused four week in a row right after double-file restarts. So I was pretty much over it at that point. It swings. It's been our turn right now it will be somebody else's turn some other day."
WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE NASCAR TO DO? "I don't think NASCAR can do anything about it. If I go back and watch the races and watch what's happened they are racing incidents and we've just been caught up in it. I'd love to think there is some magic fix but there's not. Double-file restarts do make the racing better there's no question about it but they do put us in a little more jeopardy of being in a wreck."
WHAT DO YOU ANTICIPATE IT BEING LIKE HERE? "I think everybody is going to be battling hard to get to the bottom. This is a bottom race track and you want to be on the bottom. If you restart on the outside you're going to want to be getting on to the bottom as quickly as you can. It's going to be real aggressive into (turn) one, real aggressive into (turn) two and that's going to carry on down into (turn) three I think."
WITH EVERYTHING THAT'S BEEN SAID, REPORTED AND ARGUED IN COURT OVER THE LAST TWO AND HALF MONTHS WITH MAYFIELD, HAS ANYTHING THAT'S COME OUT SHAKEN YOUR FAITH IN THE IDEA THAT RANDOM DRUG TESTING WAS A GOOD IDEA THIS YEAR? "I think random drug testing is a great idea. I don't question that whatsoever. As I said in February if there's questions about it then it will come up. I think that them asking questions about the way the process works is good. We should ask questions. We need to make sure that if someone tests positive or tests negative the test was administered correctly, that it's the right way to test. I believe we need to be looking at that. I have no concerns whatsoever going over and giving a test right now. I don't believe my results will be inaccurate."
WITH THE REPORTS THAT CAME OUT ABOUT HARVICK TRYING TO GET OUT OF HIS CONTRACT EARLY, THE TEAM CONTINUES TO LOOK LIKE FROM THE OUTSIDE THAT IT'S IN TURMOIL RIGHT NOW, FROM YOUR PERSPECTIVE HOW ARE THINGS? "Well it's a little bit of chaos at the moment, there's no question about it. I think everybody would admit to that. We haven't had the results that we need to have. Whenever you're not having results, the pressure gets turned up. That's the way it is right now. There's a huge effort to go and do things differently and change things and through that there creates a great deal of problems. People are working more hours than they've ever worked. We're asking a whole lot more out of everybody. It's not going to turn around over night so you get a deal where everybody is working harder but the results are changing quickly. It's hard. When you get behind everything gets harder. We are in a hole, there's no question about it. We've got to dig ourselves out of it. I think we can but it's going to be a grind. It's going to be hard. This is a result oriented business. The results speak for themselves. Who said you are what your record says you are? That's the truth. We are what our record says we are and we're not good enough right now."
WERE YOU SURPRISED WHEN YOU READ THAT KEVIN MIGHT BE LOOKING ELSEWHERE? "Well I have to be honest. I haven't read anything in the last couple of weeks. I went on vacation and I went on vacation. So I'm a little bit out of the loop as far as with what's been reported. I know this about Kevin, Kevin wants to be part of an organization that's competitive. Richard wants to have an organization that's competitive. Harvick is wanting to go win championships and races and so is Richard. Ultimately they've both been really good for each other. There's been a lot of race wins there with that combination and I think neither one of them thinks it's good enough and they're both pushing hard. I hate we're in this situation where we even have to talk about it but at the end of the day we're all working hard. Like I said earlier the pressure is turned up and everybody is feeling it."
DO YOU KNOW WHAT THE PROBLEM HAS BEEN THIS YEAR? "It's been my experience that when you're running well it's not because of one thing and when you're running poorly it's not because of one thing. Our preparation going into this year was wrong. We didn't know it was wrong but obviously we did some things wrong getting ready and that's showing up right now.
"We didn't do anything that we knew was wrong so if you're doing what you think is right and it's not good enough you just can't say well do this because that will fix it, it's harder than that. There's a lot opinions, a lot of theories but at the end of the day we didn't do a good job of going from last year to this year and improving. Now here we are in August. It takes a while to turn the big ship. It's not from a lack of effort. It's not from a lack of spending money. It's not from a lack of desire but the results haven't been there."
WITH THE LACK OF OFF-SEASON TESTING DO YOU THINK THAT HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH IT? "I think the testing ban has been a big negative for us. Now that's not NASCAR's fault that's our fault. We need to be quick enough on our feet where NASCAR makes a change we're not sitting there holding the bag. The reality of it is if you look at the number of times the No. 31 tested last year, the number of times that the No. 29 tested last year I would venture to say that as an individual team we tested more than most. I'm not aware of a team that tested more than us. We received a lot of benefit from that. We weren't testing because we just wanted to be at the race track, we were testing because it was effective. Now that we haven't been able to test, I think that's hurt us some. But that's our fault. We've got to adapt our program so we don't' have to go test to be successful."
HOW MANY LAPS ARE YOU GUYS GOING TO NEED IN PRACTICE TO HAVE AN ACCURATE INDICATION WHAT THESE TIRES ARE GOING TO BE LIKE? "I think we'll know today. Listen, I'm not concerned about tires at all. I honestly have no concern whatsoever. We're going to see more tire wear right now than we do the rest of the weekend. You might even see some tires chord right now, I don't think we will but you might. If we see them chord right now I would be shocked if we had any problems in the race. I would be shocked if we had any problems in happy hour. It would really surprise me."
HAVE YOU OR WILL YOU TALK TO NASCAR REGARDING DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS AT THIS PARTICULAR TRACK? "Yeah actually we've had several conversations about this particular track and the double-file restart. The problem with this race track is that any time you go somewhere where everybody restarts on one straight that's where you have problems because you can't see through cars. So if you're running eighth and the second-place guys checks up more than you think it's just like the interstate the guy right behind him sees it but the guy behind him doesn't and the guy behind him doesn't and you just get this accordion effect and we have a lot of wreck here on restarts. So you double-file restart it and that makes the problem even worse. NASCAR is going to move the restart point further back toward turn four. The reason that helps is because some cars will probably still be in the corner when the start happens and that allows the visibility to be better. The further you move back toward the corner the more efficient the restart can be. I'll be clear, I'm not opposed to double-file restarts its I've just been on the short end of the stick of the double-file restarts. Maybe Sunday it will work for us. To this point we've been in four wrecks with the wrecks happening directly in front of us or we've got run over from behind four weeks in a row directly after double-file restarts. I have to go back and look. I don't ever remember wrecking four weeks in a row in my career. At 42 years old I've wrecked four weeks in a row and I'm kind of over that."
DO YOU THINK THIS IS A GOOD RACE FROM A DRIVER STANDPOINT? "To me the history makes this a great race. If you don't grasp the history and you don't understand how historic this race track is and the legacy of this race track, not just in the States but around the world, you probably don't enjoy this race as much as somebody that does. To me because of all that I think it's an awesome race. It's a really interesting race track to drive because it's so different than everywhere else we go and you have to be aggressive but you have to be really precise. It's a lot to ask of a driver to drive around here. To me that makes it really challenging."
SO DOWN THE ROAD 16 YEARS LATER NASCAR STILL NEEDS TO BE HERE? "There's no question."
IS IT BECAUSE OF THE PRESTIGE? "I don't know of a race track that's more prestigious than this race track. It's been here for 100 years. Think about that. A race track that's been here for 100 years in a country that's close to 230 years old, that's pretty amazing. You think about how long the automobile has been here and here's a race track that's been here for 100 years. That's pretty incredible. I think we need to be here. I think it helps us being here. We didn't create the history and the legacy here but I think we're adding to it."
DO YOU THINK SOMEONE WOULD COME TO NASCAR WITH THE DESIGN OF THIS TRACK . . . "It would never happen. If someone came to NASCAR with this track in 2010 and said we're going to build this race track it would be ridiculed. The same with Darlington. There are some race tracks that it's okay because it's historic. There are times when history outweighs other things and this race track is an example of that as well as Darlington."
I'M SURE YOU'RE NOT SURPRISED TO SEE TONY STEWART THE DRIVER SUCCESSFUL BUT DOING WHAT HE'S DOING THIS YEAR WITH THE OWNERS HAT AND EVERYTHING ELSE, HOW REMARKABLE IS THAT? "It's really impressive. They've done and incredible job. I'm really impressed with what they've been able to do. Immediately the driver line up there was pretty strong. The crew chief line up was strong. Bobby Hutchens is a strong guy. When you look at it, the recipe to be successful is there. The biggest surprise is that it's happened so quickly."
DO YOU HAVE A FIRST MEMORY OF THIS PLACE? "I can't tell you what race it was but we watched the Indy 500 it was just part of what you did. Even though I grew up a southern stock car guy, when the Indy 500 was on man you were watching that race. The first time we came here to race going around for driver introductions in the back of that car and seeing all the people was just an experience I'll never forget. It was just unbelievable to see all the people. It was an amazing experience, I'll never forget it."
IS THERE ANY INDY 500 THAT JUMPS OUT AT YOU? "Sullivan spinning out. For some reason that's the one that sticks out."
IS STEWART SOME HOW MELLOWER THIS YEAR? "You know Tony is different than he was 10 years ago and Tony is going to be different 10 years from now than he is today. We all grow, we all mature, we all have a different perspective the older we get. I think you're seeing a driver that's seeing more to the picture than just making a lap. I think he's much more mature. Tony is one of those guys that has just an incredible amount of talent and he now is coupling that with good decision making, with not letting his emotions get the better of him. When he does all those things he's going to be exceptionally hard to deal with. He's one of the most gifted drivers our sport has seen period end of story."
TALK ABOUT HOW THE DOUBLE-FILE RESTARTS MIGHT TURN INTO SOME AGGRESSIVENESS. "There's no question that's it's going to be aggressive. This is a race track where you want to be on the bottom. You're going to be fighting to get on the bottom and when you're not on the bottom you're not just going to lay down. We've seen here when you're on the outside you can pinch the guy that's on the bottom and you can slow him up enough to try to hold your position so it's not going to be like if you're on the outside you're just going to give up. You're going to be battling and this is one of those race tracks that we don't race a lot side-by-side. Our cars aren't set up to be side-by-side and when you are side-by-side your car drives completely different. I think it's going to have a huge impact on the race."
WHAT OTHER TRACK ON THE CIRCUIT WOULD BE SIMILAR TO DRIVING INTO TURN ONE HERE? "There's not a race track that we race on that has any similarities to this race track whatsoever. None."
-credit: gm racing