Martinsville: Burton - Friday media visit

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed racing at Martinsville, winning the grandfather clock, the importance of physical fitness and more. ON RACING AT MARTINSVILLE.

JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed racing at Martinsville, winning the grandfather clock, the importance of physical fitness and more.

ON RACING AT MARTINSVILLE. "Obviously it's a huge challenge. This race track is a tough race track. It's a lot of fun to come here and race. There's so much history here. It's really cool because this race track is essentially like it was 30, 40, 50 years ago and I think that's really cool. It's always fun to come here. It's a very tough race track. It's very demanding. It's a really long race. You know coming here it's going to be a challenge."

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT QUALIFYING, THE WEATHER FORCAST AND THE POTENTIAL WE WON'T EVEN HAVE PRACTICE TOMORROW? "Actually we've been watching the weather pretty closely and we feel like we will have practice tomorrow. The question is will we get qualifying in. It's just a tough call. We want to work on qualifying. We want to try to qualify the best we can. On the same token if you spend a lot of time working on qualifying and it rains it out then you've wasted time to get ready to race. It's a tough call. We still haven't decided what we are going to do. We know we're going to start in race trim for sure then we're just going to watch the weather the best we know how and make that decision as late as possible. But if we feel like there is a chance that we're going to get qualifying in then we need to work on it.

The think about it here is it's a difficult decision because brakes, there's a lot of things that are different from qualifying to racing and it takes a long time to switch it over so you've got to make that decision early. We've got maybe an hour, hour and a half before we have to make that decision. But we feel like practice tomorrow is in pretty reasonable shape. Tomorrow afternoon doesn't look great but tomorrow morning looks pretty good."

WHAT ARE THE POSITIVES AND NEGATIVES OF A COUPLE OF GUYS PUTTING TOGETHER A STREAK LIKE WE HAVE NOW WITH THE BUSCH'S WINNING THREE IN A ROW? "I don't know. When people have a lot of success, people either love them or they hate them. Nobody sits on the fence about them. I think our sport has generated a lot of success because there is as much energy for pulling against a guy that's winning as there is pulling for the guy that's winning. I don't spend a whole lot of time worrying about those things. We are competing and they've done the best job the last few weeks. They've been the rightful winners. You know somebody is going to win every week and certainly it's good to see Kurt (Busch) back in victory lane. They struggled last year. They didn't have the kind of year they wanted. It's good to see them running well. So I don't know. There's a lot of different ways to look at it. They've run the best those two weeks and they deserve to win them."

IT'S EARLY IN THE SEASON BUT LOOKING AT THE STANDINGS HAS THERE BEEN ANY SURPRISES IN YOUR MIND? "Obviously Mark (Martin) having the trouble they've had has been a surprise. Typically that company (Hendrick Motorsports) is pretty bullet proof. They've had a lot of things go against them but they've run well. I expected Mark to run well and they've run well. But really when you look at the points, I said before the year I thought Penske was going to do a lot better this year and they've done that. Early in the year we did a tire test with (David) Reutimann and they were really fast at that tire test and showed a lot of strength toward the end of last year. To me, no there's no real surprises. There's a whole lot that's going to happen though. I don't think the top-12 is going to stay where it is right now nor is the top-35 going to stay where it is right now. It's going to continue to move. But certainly the failure rate at the No. 5 car has been a surprise. Not that they're a failure, their rate of having failures is what I am meaning to say."

IT SEEMS LIKE WHEN DRIVERS TALK ABOUT THIS PLACE THEY EITHER GET IT OR THEY DON'T, DO YOU AGREE WITH THAT THEORY AND WHY IS THIS A TRACK THAT IS ONE OF THOSE PLACES WHERE YOU JUST HAVE TO GET IT SOMEHOW? "I do agree with it. I think facts are the facts. It sits right there in front of you that some people have more success here. That's not out of luck. This is one of those tracks that when you were allowed to test it was a huge commitment to come here and test because the things that you learn here essentially only count for here. If you get up an advantage you hold that for a while because the opportunity to go learn somewhere else other than here is limited. When you go to Richmond you don't learn anything for Martinsville. When you go to Phoenix you don't learn anything for Martinsville. So the rate of learn is low at this race track. That goes for the teams and the drivers. I know when we were running in the front here, leading a lot of laps and winning it seemed like we did that for a period of time and we were always successful. Then it flipped and we went through a period of time where we weren't very successful at all and I didn't run well at all. When you get behind here it's hard to catch back up because how you learn is so different here. When we go to Phoenix in a few weeks, we'll be working on Richmond too. We'll be learning something for Richmond. We'll be learning something for New Hampshire. But when we're here there is nowhere else that really gives us any information for here."

TELL US ABOUT WINNING THE MARTINSVILLE GRANDFATHER CLOCK TROPHY AND WHERE YOU HAVE IT. "Well I have two of them. One from a Nationwide win and one from a Cup win. I lost the pendulum for one of them. Don't ask me how. I don't know how you lose a pendulum for a clock but I have lost it. It's not a small thing either. I have one in my living room and one in my trophy room. It's pretty cool because, I don't want anybody to take this the wrong way but you look at trophies but you kind of don't notice them as much as you do the grandfather clock. It's the only trophy that I have that's in my house where other people can see it. Everything else I have is in my place in the house where we have people go but not many. It's a really cool thing because you see it every day. When you look at it you remember what it's all about."

WITH DALE (EARNHARDT), JR. NOW WORKING OUT AND JEFF GORDON IT SEEMS LIKE IF YOU'RE NOT WORKING OUT AS A DRIVER YOU'RE IN THE MINORITY, WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT DRIVERS WHO WORK OUT AND HOW IT EFFECTS THEIR PERFORMANCE? "Well I think if you're going to be treated and compensated and want to act like a professional athlete then you need to behave like one. This is a serious business. Anything you can bring to the table to make you and your team better you need to bring it. Anything you can do to eliminate the rate at which you can't be successful you need to eliminate them. Fitness is very important. I'm glad to see Mark (Martin) set a positive influence over there (Hendrick Motorsports) and get people up and running. When a 50-year-old man is in better shape than you are and you're 30 then you need to get to work. I think it's a vital part of being successful. I know that through a pretty hard training program I feel a lot better. Not so much this time of year but August, September. I mean you guys that travel every week you know how much just the travel is. It's a long year and it grinds on you and then on top of that you add all the physical stuff of driving the car and the mental stuff of driving the car and it makes for a long year. I think fitness is hugely important."

THE JOHNSON AND GORDON DOMINANCE HERE, IS THAT GOOD FOR MARTINSVILLE SPEEDWAY AND THE FANS HERE? "It's good for the Hendrick group (laughing), I don't know if it's good for everybody else or not. All I can tell you is that Richard Petty won seven championships and I'm sure the same conversation went on there. I think that without a doubt when you can beat them it puts a little special touch on it. Having someone dominate something then being over thrown, I think that is good for the sport. Continued dominance is not good but the only way that you can have the over throwing process is to have a period of dominance."

PHOENIX IS TOTALLY UNIQUE FROM ANYTHING ELSE, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THAT AND THE CHALLENGES YOU FACE? "It's a really cool race track. Both ends of the race track are completely different. It's not really a short track. It's like a small superspeedway. Real long straightaway's, restarts are real aggressive. There's a lot of action, a lot of stuff going on. The biggest thing is that both ends of the race track are so different. The front straightaway is down hill. Turn one is a really sharp corner. The exit of (turn) two is like nowhere else I've ever been. (Turns) three and four is this big, long, sweeping corner that some people can run the top over there and some people can run below the apron, just a lot of different option. Because it's so different on both ends of the race track, it's a challenge."

-credit: gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Richard Petty
Teams Hendrick Motorsports