BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO SS: ON TAKING THE POINT LEAD IN THE CHASE: "This is early. Certainly it's enjoyable. At the same time, there is a lot of work ahead of us. We're trying to stay focused...
BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO SS:
ON TAKING THE POINT LEAD IN THE CHASE: "This is early. Certainly it's enjoyable. At the same time, there is a lot of work ahead of us. We're trying to stay focused on that. It's been a busy week. There has been a lot of attention on us because of the win last week and that's been really fun. It's been welcomed. But all that's over now and it's time to go back to work."
DO YOU STRATEGIZE OVER THE CHASE? IS THERE ANY WAY TO LOOK AT WHEN YOU PEAK OR TIRE OUT OR IS THAT JUST A BUNCH OF BUNK? "Well, if we could control those things it would be really nice. But I think all you can do is the best you can do. If you look back on it and say hey we didn't run well in these three or four races and that's what hurt us; but you didn't plan on going to those races planning on not running well. All you can do is come with the best plan and the best cars and come as prepared as you can possibly be and see where the chips fall. It's really all you can do."
ON TALLADEGA BEING A WILD CARD RACE AND WHETHER THE NEW SURFACE WILL BE A FACTOR "The new pavement, to be honest, is going to be a non-issue. The grip at Talladega with the old pavement was plenty good. With the new pavement, it will be even better for sure. But anytime you can run wide open around a race track, grip obviously is not a problem so more grip probably won't help anything. It'll be interesting to me if we actually go faster or not."
BRIAN VICKERS TESTED THERE AND SAID IT WAS SO SMOOTH THAT YOU COULD RUN FIVE WIDE, NINE DEEP ALL DAY IF YOU WANTED TO "We can do that now. We run three or four wide now without a whole lot of problems. Again, the grip level at Talladega is not that big of an issue. We may see even more side-by-side or deeper racing. I hope we don't see that. But I'm sure we will. And it's going to be the same Talladega as always. The more bunched up we are, the more opportunity for big car wrecks. Anytime you go to Talladega, you've got to go knowing there is a good chance there is going to be a big multi-car wreck and hope you're not going to be in it."
HAVE YOU FOUND OUT WHAT HAPPENED WITH YOUR TEAMMATES' ENGINES LAST WEEK IN DOVER?
"I know nothing about engines. I'm lucky I can get them to start. I know very little about the engine department. I do know what they believe was wrong. It's not my place to divulge that information, so I'm not going to. But we feel good about understanding what happened and learning from it and being able to move on."
IS IT REALLY SOMETHING YOU DON'T WANT TO KNOW? "It's not that I don't want to know. It's just that I can't do anything about it. I try not to dive into everything anymore. I used to do that, but I don't do that anymore. I try to be involved with things that I can assist with. And I can't assist with the engine thing very much because I'm really ignorant about it. I leave that up to them. I have a tremendous amount of faith in them. They feel like they understand with it and I'm good with it."
ON RCR WINNING THE LAST 5 RACES THEY'VE ENTERED: "That's an amazing stat. It's an honor to be part of it. Richard (Childress) deserves it. He puts a tremendous amount of effort, time, and energy into this thing. I'm proud to be part of it. It's been hard to get here and it'll be even harder to stay here. We've got to find a way to continue to improve because everybody in the garage is trying to find a way to do that and if we don't answer the call, then it won't be good for us."
ON CLINT BOWER: "Number one, Clint's a really good guy. Number two, he brings a level of enthusiasm and inquisitiveness and he's asking questions a lot. That makes a guy like me, who has been around for a while, it makes me think. And that's really good. He's an extremely supportive teammate. He believes in the processes we're trying to put into place. And beyond all of that, he is remarkably gifted in being able to drive. He will be a force well into the future of this thing. He's a pleasure to work with and he has a tremendous amount of ability."
ON A UNIQUE COMBINATION OF DRIVERS AT RCR "We have three totally different personalities of drivers. We are an odd group. There's no question about it. We operate totally different. But that's good. We all draw from each other. We have three totally different personalities with three different perspectives all trying to reach a common goal. This year, we have just worked so hard at working together."
GOING INTO THE CHASE, SOME PEOPLE THOUGHT YOU WERE A LONGSHOT. WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THAT? HOW MUCH MOTIVATION DID THAT GIVE YOU? WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU'VE PROVEN SO FAR? "We haven't been in the title hunt lately for sure. If you look at the No.17 car of the No. 48 car and the No. 29 car and some of those guys who are making a lot of steam, we weren't at times, showing that. If you look through the year, most of the Chase guys looked like the best teams in racing. I think we were included in that group. So, it's all about putting it together in the last 10. That's what it's about. I really don't get all that motivated about what other people say.
I'm pretty much self- motivated. I don't need a lot of bulletin board material. That doesn't do it for me."
JEFF GORDON SAID THERE IS NOTHING FUN ABOUT THIS CHASE. HE SAID IT WAS STRESSFUL. WHAT DO YOU THINK? "I relate to that 100 percent. He's a four-time champion talking about that. Imagine Mark Martin and myself and Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. - people who haven't won a championship - we might never get another chance. It's a precious thing where you don't what to look back on it and say I didn't get my chance. The pressure is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. When you're in the race car, that's the time you get to do the things you love to do. The unfortunate thing about our sport as opposed to football and baseball and basketball, is that we really can't rest. We don't have an outlet of let's get out of the track. Drivers don't have that option. You've got to find a diversion. You've got to find a way to walk away from it. It's just something that everybody deals with it differently. But it is a pressure-filled situation. But that's what sports are about. That's why people tune in."
ON JEFF GORDON AND THE CHASE "We know the No. 24 car have shown they have stepped it up. I think the No. 24 is a real threat to win this thing, without a doubt. We know without question that Jeff Gordon can get it done. When the chips are on the table, Jeff Gordon can get it done. There's no question about that. So I think Jeff Gordon and his No. 24 group is a favorite. I don't know who THE favorite is, but there doesn't seem to me to be a clear-cut favorite coming into this thing. But I've watched what the No. 24 has been doing over the past 8 weeks and least and I think they've stepped it up."
DO YOU STILL HAVE SOME OF THAT MARK MARTIN MINDSET THAT SAYS WHEN YOU WIN ONE, ENJOY IT BECAUSE IT MIGHT BE YOUR LAST? "You're talking to a guy who hadn't won in five years. You're darn right I've got it. I just can't imagine how you couldn't have that. There's just no way. It's been five years since I've won a race. And I understand as well as anybody that you never know when another one is coming."
ON BEING THE POINT LEADER "I'm not looking at myself being the point leader. I don't care where we are in the points as long as we're close enough to get out business done. I haven't thought one minute about being the point leader. I think the key is that we've positioned ourselves and that's the end of it right now."
HOW CONCERNED ARE YOU ABOUT TALLADEGA WITH RELATIONSHIP TO THE POINTS? "I'm concerned about Talladega every time I go to Talladega and it's no different. We go to Talladega with the potential for a multi-car wreck. Talladega has the potential to take out a lot of people at one swipe. If that happens, you just go to the next race. I don't go into Talladega worrying about it based on the points any more than I would any other time. I know people don't believe it, but that's the way it is."
DO YOU THINK YOU CAN WIN AT TALLADEGA? "I think we've got to have the right circumstances to win there. We haven't shown a lot of speed in race conditions at Talladega or Daytona and I think it's going to take special circumstances. In all the years I've raced restrictor plate races, I think there was one when I thought I could win the race. And that's being honest. The key is putting yourself in the right position. There are four or five cars at every speedway race that are stronger than the other ones. A lot of times those four or five cars don't win. We've got to find a way - we're trying to make our program better - we've got to try to find a way to win the race. That's why we go there."
-credit: gm racing