JEFF BURTON IS THE DEFENDING CHAMPION OF THE FALL RACE AT MARTINSVILLE. HE HELD OFF DALE EARNHARDT IN THE CLOSING LAPS AFTER RUSTY WALLACE WAS BLACK-FLAGGED WITH 23 LAPS REMAINING FOR JUMPING THE RESTART. BURTON, A VIRGINIA NATIVE, SPOKE ...
JEFF BURTON IS THE DEFENDING CHAMPION OF THE FALL RACE AT MARTINSVILLE. HE HELD OFF DALE EARNHARDT IN THE CLOSING LAPS AFTER RUSTY WALLACE WAS BLACK-FLAGGED WITH 23 LAPS REMAINING FOR JUMPING THE RESTART. BURTON, A VIRGINIA NATIVE, SPOKE ABOUT WINNING IN HIS HOME STATE AND COMING OUT ON TOP OF LAST YEAR'S EVENT.
JEFF BURTON, -99- EXIDE BATTERIES TAURUS -- AFTER WINNING AT RICHMOND TWO WEEKS AGO, YOU WERE REALLY EXCITED ABOUT WINNING IN YOUR HOME STATE. HOW BIG IS THAT FOR YOU? "It's big. I mean, it's big. There were a lot of people at that race who have watched Ward (BURTON) and myself not only grow up in racing, but grow up as people. There were people there who knew me when I was four and I didn't even know them. I think that's neat. I think it's neat to have an opportunity to see someone you knew as a kid to go play a professional sport and be part of a professional sport. I think that's pretty neat. I take a lot of pride, I really do, take a lot of pride in Richmond being a Virginia track because I think it's the nicest short track in the country. It puts on great races, it's a nice facility, and the Sawyers are incredible people."
THAT BEING SAID, YOU WON YOUR FIRST VIRGINIA WINSTON CUP RACE ONE YEAR AGO AT MARTINSVILLE..." I feel the exact same way about Martinsville as Richmond. Now, there might be a little bit of controversy about how much people like the race track, but I like the race track. I've always liked the race track. When we ran late model stock cars and ran 100-lap races with the modifieds and Busch, that was our Daytona 500. If you won Martinsville, you were the man. You got like $10,000 to win or something and that was a big deal."
DID YOU GO TO MARTINSVILLE A LOT AS A YOUNGSTER? "I only went to one Winston Cup race at Martinsville as a spectator. I went to a bunch of the modifieds and late model sportsman doubleheader races. I went to a bunch of those. They were always better races, plus the modifieds were loud. That was cool."
THE RACE LAST YEAR AT MARTINSVILLE INVOLVED RUSTY WALLACE BEING BLACK-FLAGGED FOR JUMPING THE RESTART WITH 23 LAPS TO GO. HOW DO YOU REMEMBER THAT UNFOLDING? "The thing that's important to note is that we had passed Rusty before the next to last caution came out. So, yes, Rusty being black-flagged was a pivotal part of the race, I'm not trying to say it wasn't, but that's not what lost the race for Rusty Wallace. Now it had a huge impact on it, but that's not to say we weren't gonna have a chance to win it anyway because we had passed him.
"The other part of that story is that on the next to last restart before Rusty got black-flagged he took off real early. We ran along there and we had another caution. My spotter said to me, 'Jeff, he's not gonna take off as early as he did the first time because NASCAR has warned him not to do it again.' Well, he started earlier the second time than he did the first time and they black-flagged him. So, they had warned him. They had warned him not to do it again and he did it again.
"That's a tough pill to swallow, getting black-flagged leading the race on a restart. That's tough to swallow. I'm not saying it's not, but when NASCAR tells you not to do something, you don't do it. He made a mistake and we capitalized on the mistake. You win some races when you may or may not have had the best car, but other people made mistakes that made it a lot easier. A lot of people win races like that and it's OK to win like that because part of Winston Cup racing is your car not breaking, not running out of gas, having good pit stops, the driver not wrecking it or not making mistakes, and pit strategy. Dale Jarrett won the Dover race earlier this year on fuel mileage. That doesn't mean he didn't win it, that means he did a good job. You win them however you can win them. If you can limit your mistakes and win it that way, the check is the same amount and the trophy is just as big."