JEFF BURTON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, sat down with media members at Las Vegas Motor Speedway today and talked about concerns about tire wear, racing the new car at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the importance of getting practice time in,...
JEFF BURTON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS, sat down with media members at Las Vegas Motor Speedway today and talked about concerns about tire wear, racing the new car at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the importance of getting practice time in, his thoughts on last week and the track at California and much more.
ON THE QUICK TURN AROUND WITH LAST WEEKS RACE BEING DELAYED TO MONDAY: "Yeah it has been. Part of me just wants to leave California and come straight here. That doesn't work very well with our schedules. What are you going to do? It rains on Sunday and you race on Monday. It's bad for the fans; it's not that bad for us. It shortens the week up. I had to be in New York on Tuesday morning early to film a commercial and that made Monday night and Tuesday morning a little too close together."
ON RACING IN THE TOP GROVE OF WHAT IS KNOW AS A BOTTOM-GROVE TRACK: "Last year we had an engine problem late in the race. I'm convinced we were going to win that race. We broke real late running second. Jimmie (Johnson) had gotten by me but we had started to come back on him and we were running the high line. I think the high line is going to be very prevalent this week. I don't think there is any doubt about it. You are going to see people in the high line. I won the Nationwide race in the high line and I truly believe I was going to win the Cup race in the high line last year. I think this year there will be a lot of people up there."
ON CONCERNS ABOUT TIRE WEAR THAT CAME UP IN THE TEST SESSION IN JANUARY: "We have to be aware of it. There's not a whole lot we can do about it to be quite honest as a driver. The only thing you can do is slow down. How are you going to do that? You gotta go; you gotta make the car drive as good as it can drive. I think as the track gets rubbered up it will certainly get better but we certainly saw excessive tire wear here during the test which isn't completely unusual especially with a high-grove track like this, tire wear is always an issue. I suspect it will get better as the weekend goes on. I hope it will."
ON RACING THE NEW CAR AT THIS TRACK AND WHAT HE LEARNED FROM CALIFORNIA: "Well I think last week we obviously learned a lot. Even though we didn't get the result that we wanted, we thought we ran pretty decent. I got in the wall and it didn't really hurt the car that much once we got it fixed but we lost all our track position. So I want to get back and redeem myself for that. We're still learning a lot. This car is so new to us; we only have one race on it really in this configuration on this kind of track. There's a whole lot to learn. I think that everybody's wanting to get at it. Of course last week we didn't qualify, so we still haven't qualified one of these cars at one of these tracks yet and there's a lot of question about that as well."
ON QUALIFYING THE NEW CAR WITHOUT HAVING QUALIFIED THE CAR BEFORE: "These cars are obviously completely different than the old cars in a lot of ways. Because of the front end on the cars we can't travel the cars very much before they hit the race track. Of course, when you go to qualify you're going faster which makes the car want to travel more. You put tape on the front end, which makes the car want to travel more. There's a big transition between qualifying trim and race trim. In the old cars we had, all in the garage, found ways to understand how to switch over. What that car did from race trim verses qualifying trim we had a pretty good, you know it varied from teams, but we had a pretty good understanding of what it took. And these cars I think we are still trying to figure it out. On a track like this, that's really, really fast -- I mean you are going to see cars that are way off of the pole. I think you are going to see cars that have real trouble and the guys that qualify well are not going to have trouble. I think you are going to see a bigger disparity than what you normally see just because we don't know a lot about it. The more we run them, the more we'll learn. We have teams in the garage that claim that they don't do anything from race trim to qualifying trim and we have teams in the garage that say they have major, major changes and a lot of that is driver preference. I think what it really boils down to is getting the driver accustomed and comfortable with what it is that particular team has to do to be successful in qualifying. That was a long answer, I'm sorry."
ON THE STATEMENT THAT THE SPEEDS THROUGH THE MIDDLE WERE OFF BY 12 OR 14 MPH IN THE TEST: "I don't think that's correct. Give me a minute and I'll get you that information. Our race pace lap times in the test were considerably faster than our race pace was here last year. Keep in mind we had that extremely hard tire here last year. I don't remember the test speeds, but our race speeds were off from what we could run here last month, without a doubt. The center of the corner speed from the race to the test probably wasn't slower, it was probably faster actually."
ON HOW MUCH DIFFERENT IS DRIVING THROUGH THE CORNER AND HOW MUCH HIGHER ARE YOUR ENTRY SPEEDS? HOW MUCH OF A DIFFERENT FEEL IS IT FOR YOU AS A DRIVER: "I think one of the interesting things that's hard to describe is that driver's drive by feel. You know I leave here and go and get in that car next door and it truly is 14 mile an hour slower on the straightaway and 14 mile an hour faster in the corner than this car. But I drive it the way that car needs to be driven. You don't really think about it, if that makes any sense. This is what is going to make good race car drivers, is adaptability. You have to be able to adapt to the situation and you have to understand what the situation you are in is which is the hardest part. They do drive different, there's no question. But we actually probably make more grip here with this tire than we did last year. That's not going to be everywhere, at California we were slower than we were with the old car but here we were actually faster but that was a tire thing."
ON THE DIFFICULTY OF SWITCHING BACK AND FORTH BETWEEN A SPRINT CUP SERIES CAR AND A NATIONWIDE SERIES CAR: "It's more of a challenge. If that car over there drove exactly the same way this car would then you wouldn't have to think about it. When I sit in each car I have to consciously think hey what are you sitting in, what are you going to do? You have to think about it. Especially in a situation like we're in today where you practice that car then come practice this car, practice that car then qualify this car. When I get into this car to qualify I gotta be in Cup mode not Nationwide mode."
ON GOING FOR HIS THIRD WIN INA ROW IN THE NATIONWIDE SERIES AT ATLANTA NEXT WEEK: "We've had really good race cars. Our race cars have been really fast and been able to run them anywhere I've wanted to run them and be in the throttle a lot. We weren't able to do that last week, the 20 beat up on us pretty badly. I thought we had a second-place car until I hit the wall in that one too. I thought we had a second-place car. We didn't have anything for Tony. We're gonna have to find a way to step it up if we are going to do three in a row because they showed a lot of speed. They go through the corners exceptionally well and they go down the straightaway exceptionally well too. I think they have a little bit of a horsepower advantage over there. When you add that with how well they go through the corners then they're going to be hard to guard."
ON RACING AT A TRACK WHERE YOU HAVE WON BEFORE. DO YOU THINK ABOUT IT WHEN YOU GET THERE: "Not really. I kind of dismiss what happened there last year, the good and the bad. I think you've learned from it. I think there is a tremendous amount to learn from racing and applying what you've learned. Success from last year doesn't guarantee success this year. Matter of fact it wasn't even on my mind that we won the last two races there, until you said that. I had no idea. I didn't know that. That's how much I look at the past."
ON HIS FEELINGS OF RACING THE NEW CAR AT TEXAS: "I think there are a lot of challenges at Texas. Maybe more so than here, Texas is a little rougher. With this car the bumps seem to be a pretty major issue, so I think Texas is going to be quite a challenge with this car. Some teams are going to hit and some teams aren't. The success we were able to do there last year, none of that works. None of that information will be worth a hoot so it's starting over again."
ON IS THAT GOING TO MAKE PRACTICE EVEN MORE CRITICAL AT TEXAS: "It makes it exceptionally important. The key to our sport is taking the time that you have to do anything that you are doing and doing it efficiently. If you have an hour practice, you have to use that hour of practice better than your competition. And the teams that can do that are the teams that continually have success. Being efficient with your time is really important. That's going to be like that all year with this car. Well it's like that with every car but I think it's going to be even more important because we're trying to learn so much in a short time."
ON ARE THERE THINGS YOU CAN LEARN HERE AND AT ATLANTA THAT TO APPLY TO OTHER RACE TRACKS: "I think so. There are things that we can learn from each race track to apply to other race tracks more so than others. Some tracks have a bigger impact than others but I think a lot."
ON NOT QUALIFYING WELL AT MARTINSVILLE, BUT BEING IN THE FRONT AT THE END: "We qualify awful there. I don't know what that's all about. I don't know, I've been terrible at qualifying there. I like the race. It's long, it's hard, it really is one of the hardest races that we do. Physically, emotionally it's a tough race and that's a long 500 laps. I think it's the longest feeling race that we do all year and I like that challenge. I like it when it's hard. I like it when it's difficult, I like it when it's a challenge. Not that it's not always a challenge, but obviously some challenges are bigger than others. To me that's what our sport is all about. It's being difficult and trying to overcome obstacles and Martinsville is pretty big."
ON WORKING HIS WAY THROUGH THE FIELD TO TOP-FIVE FINISHES AT MARTINSVILLE AFTER QUALIFYING IN THE REAR: "What happens in Martinsville, we always talk about qualifying poorly there hurts you but if you really think about it you always get these different strategies going at Martinsville because you get half the field that is scared to pit and the other half wants to pit. The cautions come out so frequently that you always get in these positions where sometimes running 15th is advantageous and as silly as that sounds, because it's easy for you to pit then. It's hard for the leader to pit. If you're running 15th and the leaders pit then you stay out and everybody behind you stays out then it takes them forever to get to you. You get these odd sequences at Martinsville and sometimes it works out where qualifying poorly hurts you. Sometimes it works out where it doesn't obviously. You're not precluded from having success by qualifying poorly and a lot of that is because of pit sequences. It gets real jumbled up."
ON HAVE MOST PEOPLE LEARNED HOW TO USE THE CAR THERE TO THEIR ADVANTAGE: "Most people haven't, some people have. I know Jimmie (Johnson) won the first race. I don't remember who won the second race. So they figured it out."
HAVE YOU: "We finished both races, so no. Or a top five in both races, not as well as them. I don't know, I think that one of my biggest concerns going into the year was our short track program with the 31 car. We struggled a little bit on the short tracks last year with the COT more so than our teammates did in my eyes and that's my biggest concern is the short track program. It's a huge challenge out there for us I do know that."
ON HIS FEELINGS ABOUT THE EVENTS THAT TOOK PLACE IN CALIFORNIA LAST WEEK: "I think the weather is nothing we can control. But I think the only thing we can do it try to get through it. I gotta tell you, I know there is a reason. I didn't completely understand why at 10:30 when the track has been weeping all day that we were trying to still run on Sunday night. That didn't make a lot of sense to me but I know NASCAR had their reasons and I never went to explore why we were doing it because it didn't matter to me. If they told me to be there I was going to be there. That part of it was a little frustrating. I didn't think their decision to start the race was incorrect. I think the track got worse as we ran and that created issues. I wish we could have found a way to be on top of the track worsening and try to stop the race before we had incidents. I thought when the race started it was fine. I had no problems with starting the race at all. But it did get worse and we as drivers probably should have been complaining a lot more about it. That's one thing that's tough, is when you have an issue like that and you start complaining about it then it's hard to focus on just dealing with it. We as drivers probably needed to start complaining more about it and maybe NASCAR could have reacted a little bit quicker. That's always a tough spot because everybody has selfish reasons for complaining about debris, complaining about stuff on the race track, needing a caution, but last week we needed to collectively during the race start complaining so NASCAR could have seen it."
ON ABOUT CHANGING THE BANKING AND MAKING IT A PLATE TRACK: "We don't need another restrictor-plate race track. A two-mile race track is a difficult thing. It really is. That was a trend there to build big tracks. A two-mile race track is a difficult thing; it boils down to simple mathematics. The faster you go, the bigger disparity and the field. It's pretty simple. You go to Martinsville and you run 92 mile an hour and somebody's off two miles an hour, whatever that percentage is, is different than the percentage at California running 200 mile an hour. Two-mile race tracks are difficult. If they were going to do anything, the thing to do would be progressive banking. Similar to what was done at Homestead. The problem is that it's so big it would be so freaking fast that you might have to put a restrictor plates on it."
-credit: gm racing