JEFF BURTON, No. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed racing at his home track, expectations of the spoiler, beating the No. 48 and other topics. ON RACING AT MARTINSVILLE: "We feel good...
JEFF BURTON, No. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed racing at his home track, expectations of the spoiler, beating the No. 48 and other topics.
ON RACING AT MARTINSVILLE: "We feel good about it. We worked real hard on our short track program over the winter. We spent a lot of time testing, so hopefully that will pay off for us. We feel like we've had a solid start to the year. We've come short in a few areas, and we're trying to address those and be better. All in all, we're very excited about this weekend. This is always a hard race. It requires a lot of patience, but at the same time a lot of aggressiveness. That's why I like it. It requires a lot of balance, and it comes at a time of the year when points mean a lot. We'll try to make a good weekend out of it."
DOES THE SUCCESS OF THE 48 GET IN YOUR HEAD? "Well when you win four championships and three of the first six races or whatever he's done, and you're not in somebody's head then nobody's paying attention. I think everybody's different, and everybody's affected by things differently. For me, if you're not paying attention to what they're doing and understand that they're the guys you need to beat if you want to win a championship, then you're not a fast learner. You can be in denial about where they are and what they're doing if you like, but if you want to understand what you're up against then you need to understand it. Now, if that's being in your head or not, I don't know. They certainly have had the success that no one else has had over the past four years, and that no one has had at the first part of this year. If they're in peoples head, they're in it because of their success not because of what they're saying."
DO YOU THINK THE SWITCH FROM THE WING TO THE SPOILER CAN TOTALLY CHANGE THE RACING OUT THERE AND MAKE SOME TEAMS THAT HAVEN'T BEEN COMPETITIVE SUDDENLY FIGHTING FOR THE WIN? "I wouldn't be totally surprised. I've said from the beginning that I think going to a spoiler could be a game-changer. I think that it will affect some teams more than it does others. The teams are pretty smart today, and we have more resources than we've ever had before. Still at the end of the day, you have to go out and race everybody. As hard as you're working your competitors are working too, and when it's something different some people are going to catch on to it quicker than others. Tuesday and Wednesday at Charlotte [Motor Speedway] felt like a normal test. There were teams that were running well, there were teams that were struggling, and there were teams that were on the fence between the two. I don't think the dynamics of that is going to change, but it could change who is running well and who isn't running well. Anytime there is a change, there is a risk of losing the good that you had, but there is also the chance of gaining something good that you didn't have, and that's going to affect every team differently."
SINCE MARTINSVILLE IS YOUR HOME TRACK, DO YOU RACE ANY DIFFERENTLY AROUND THIS TRACK? "I don't race it differently; I believe you race it the best way you know how. You use your strengths and the things that you're good at every week whether it's the first race of the year or the last race of the season and you're racing for the championship. At the end of the day, you need to utilize the thing that you're good at, and avoid the things that you're not good at. It's easy to let the emotion of a particular event drive the way that you're going to approach the race, but that's not the proper way to do it. The proper way to do it is to bring the same amount of intensity to every lap of every race to get the result that you want. That may mean a little more winning at your home track or winning the championship. The end result may change a little bit, but the way you get to that result should stay the same."
DO YOU THINK THE SPOILER WILL SLOW THE NO. 48 DOWN? "I expect that the Hendrick teams will do well and I don't think that it will slow the 48 down. I'm paying attention to what the 48 is doing, but I'm much more concerned about how it affects us. I don't think it's going to slow them down, but I know that we need it to make us better. I'm paying attention to that."
IS IT GOOD TO HAVE DALE, JR. IN THE TOP-12 IN POINTS? "Junior has a huge following in the sport. There are so many people that watch what he's doing. There is no way that having Dale Jr. doing well isn't good for the sport, and to be honest, more importantly it's good for him. I like Junior. I think he's a good racecar driver that has had a lot of attention put on him over the past couple of years that wasn't good attention. It'd be good to see Junior having fun again, because the way things have been going he hasn't been having fun. Honestly, I think he's fun to talk to and he has a lot of respect for the sport. He's the kind of person that I like to see do well."
WILL TEXAS BE THE RACE WHERE WE ACTUALLY SEE THE EFFECTS OF THE SPOILER? "In some ways, yes. Charlotte is a difficult track to test on. Since they've changed the track, the tires are really kind of odd--you go out the second time and you're faster, you go out the third time and you're faster yet. It's really hard to get a balance there to know where you are. You put on new tires to make a run and you would have been better if you had just stayed on older tires. It's a difficult place to test, so that in itself more so than the spoiler means that Texas is kind of starting over. Still, I do think that you learned some things at Charlotte that you can apply to Texas."
EVEN THOUGH YOUR TEAM HAS STEPPED IT UP A LOT FROM LAST YEAR, ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED WITH THE RESULTS THAT YOU'VE HAD SO FAR? "I'm disappointed that we haven't executed with some opportunities that we've had. We've run well and had fast race cars at every race, and I don't necessarily have the finishes to show for it. I'm disappointed with that. We had a great chance to win at California and we didn't execute on that. A lot of people said, "Well the No. 48 got a lucky break." They did, but we restarted third with enough of laps to go win the race and we didn't make it happen. Last week, we were running fifth on the last caution and ended up finishing tenth. At Atlanta, we had fast car and had a problem, and then I made the problem worse. We've got to do a better job of executing. If we do that we'll win our races. I don't want to sit up here and say that we're good enough to be winning because if we were, we would have been winning. You are what your record says you are, and our record says that we haven't been good enough to win yet. I'm disappointed with that, but my focus has been on why haven't we been winning. We haven't been winning because we haven't executed on it, and in some other cases we weren't fast enough to win. We need to get a little more speed and we have to execute better."
WHAT DO YOU DO TO DRIVING THE CAR TO GET THE MOST OUT OF IT, ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING ALL OF THE RUBBER THAT BUILDS UP IN THE CORNERS? "The rubber builds up on the exit of both corners. It starts to build up just past the center of the corner and through to the exit. You have three options--run all the below it with the right side tires, which means that your left tires are right up next to the curb, straddle it, or run with all four tires above it. You adjust your car to run whichever way you think is the best at that time, and then a caution comes out and the rubber goes away, and then you run for 40-50 laps with no rubber on the track. So then you have your car set up to run in a certain area that your car doesn't want to run in anymore. It's a constant balance between where the rubber builds up and where it doesn't. It is important to understand where that rubber is and I see a lot of people in practice that forget that and practice with the right tires exactly where the rubber is going to be. So and when they have that setup starting the race, they can't run anymore. The knowledge of that and how it changes your car is very important because it affects how you practice your car and how you set up your car."
THE PROBLEM WITH FUEL INJECTION WAS THAT THERE WAS NO WAY TO POLICE IT, IS THAT A PROBLEM ANYMORE? "I am very uneducated in the fuel injection deal, but I would think that in today's time, policing a part wouldn't be a problem. As much policing as NASCAR does today with all the parts on the car, I highly doubt that that would be a problem. Although, if you're going to run 12th it's a lot easier to cheat than if you're going to win the race. There would be the potential for that, but in the way that NASCAR does things today. I just don't think that would be a problem."
WHAT DO YOU THINK HAPPENED AT RCR TO MAKE YOU CHASE EVERYONE ELSE TO REGAIN AN ADVANTAGE AT SHORT TRACKS? "The people you are chasing are working to and you have to respect their work and sometimes how they get better than you. This is a competitive sport, and when you have an advantage everyone wants to take it away from you. Typically there are shifts on who's doing well and who's doing well at which race track. We have worked diligently to get our short track program back to where it needs to be. At the same time, we've worked to get our mile, and mile-and-a-half and superspeedway programs to where they need to be. Every one of those departments deserves the same amount of attention, but they get different results at different times. The best times can get the most results out of everything they're working on. Last year when we were struggling, it was hard to be as good as we needed to be anywhere because we were just off. This year it seems like we've been able to be more competitive everywhere because our program has been more together. It allows us to focus on individual departments instead of trying to put our whole program."
IS IT THE CAR'S FAULT OR THE DRIVER'S FAULT THAT MORE PEOPLE AREN'T BEATING THE 48? "As long as I've been racing there's been the question is it the driver or the car? The truth of the matter is that it's both. The truth of the matter is that it is the driver's responsibility to get the car to make the car better in communicating more than just driving the race car. A four-time champion is doing it better because his results say that he's doing it better. Yes, you cannot take a car that will only run a 22-second lap and run a 21.90 [second] lap with it. It's your as a driver to communicate the things that the car is doing to get it to where it can run a 21.90. That's part of the driver's responsibility. It is also the driver's responsibility to always run a 22-second lap every lap when your car is capable of a 22-second lap. You can't just dismiss the driver's involvement in it, because the driver is greatly involved in it. It becomes harder when your car can't do it, but what can you do? You have to be a part of the solution. Ultimately, it is both the responsibility of the driver and car, and it is partially the driver's responsibility to get the car to where it needs to be."
-source: gm racing