Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Impala SS, met with members of the media to discuss the differences between Bristol and Martinsville, on what he loves about this track, on bringing the same Impala SS to Martinsville that he ran in Bristol...
Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Impala SS, met with members of the media to discuss the differences between Bristol and Martinsville, on what he loves about this track, on bringing the same Impala SS to Martinsville that he ran in Bristol and more.
ON GOING FROM BRISTOL TO MARTINSVILLE AND EACH BEING DIFFERENT TO PREPARE FOR WITH THE NEW CAR: "There are as many unknowns going into Martinsville as we had going into Bristol which is interested being that we've run a race now with the Car of Tomorrow. The tracks are so different that there's not a whole lot that you can apply from one to another. (It's) really interesting from a three car team how different we all believe the best setup is going to be. I think a lot of experimenting, which is why we worked on race trim this morning quite a bit. At Bristol for example we weren't very good and we just kept getting better and better and better and by the time happy hour was over I was pretty happy. Today we unloaded much better than we did at Bristol but still there's a tremendous amount to learn and I think that this is every bit the challenge that we had last week."
KEVIN HARVICK SAID EVERYONE SHOULD QUIT COMPLAINING ABOUT THE CAR SINCE EVERYONE IS IN THE SAME POSITION. WOULD YOU AGREE WITH THAT? "I do agree with it. I do think that we need to keep an open dialog with NASCAR and we need to look at the things that we can do that will enhance competition. I'm not sure what they are just yet but surely as we move into this thing we'll find ways to do it better in an effort to make competition better. I honestly don't care what it drives like. It's not much job to worry about how it drives compared to the car we had last year or what we would have had last year. It's my job to make it drive better than the people that I'm racing against. We do all have the same thing and if you watch the race from Bristol, I just don't think you saw that different of a race from what you saw last Bristol. Without all of the conversations about the Car of Tomorrow I think that it would have been viewed as a very successful race. But everybody is different. I do agree that we can try to move the ball but I think that's through any open dialog, a less emotional dialog, a dialog that deals with facts rather than emotions. If we do that I think we can continue to make it better."
IS THERE SOMETHING YOU LOVE OR IS THERE SOMETHING YOU HATE ABOUT THIS RACE TRACK? "I almost hate that I love it. I think this is one of the most challenging race tracks that we go to. It requires aggressiveness. It requires patience. Typically those two things don't go very well together. It is a tremendous challenge to get the car to drive the way you want it to drive. That's what I like about it. It's long, it's hot, it's difficult - those are the things that I enjoy about it. At the same time, those are the things that make me not like it so much. When you've had a good day at Martinsville, you've earned it. There's no gimmees at Martinsville nor at Bristol. Obviously luck is always involved in some form or fashion but there's just no gimmees. If you've done a nice job then you've done a nice job. It's physically demanding. From a car standpoint, it's one of the hardest places we go to make the car drive well."
ARE YOU ONE OF THE DRIVERS THAT BROUGHT THE SAME CAR FROM BRISTOL? WHAT IS YOUR FEELING ON HOW NASCAR LEFT THINGS LAST WEEK WITH GREG BIFFLE WITH THERE ACTUALLY BEING NO RULE SAYING HE WAS ILLEGAL BUT SUGGESTING HE MIGHT BE PENALIZED? "First question, this is the same car we ran last weekend. We had not planned on running this car but it got through Bristol and we knew the car so we decided to bring it. Then we have the test at Richmond at next week that we can run those two cars that we haven't had a chance to run yet so that's why we decided to bring this car. I have not a clue with what you are talking about with Greg Biffle so before I comment I'd like to have a whole lot more information. I need to dig into that. It's the first I've heard about it. I've been at Richmond Busch testing and have been completely out of the loop with any news. I would choose not to comment. I need before facts before I make a comment. And I'm not suggestion you don't have facts."
HAVE YOU FOUND NASCAR TO BE OPEN TO THIS POINT WITH SUGGESTIONS? "I have always found NASCAR to be open with any suggestion. I'm not saying that they're always going to act on what my opinion is but they've been very open to opinions concerning the Car of Tomorrow and a lot of different things. I haven't expressed any opinions to them about the Car of Tomorrow based on Bristol because I think it's too early. I think if we start trying to react to something after a Bristol race, I think that's wrong. In due time when we start to get more information and we start to get more useable information, I do believe that if there is something that will make competition better NASCAR will respond to that. They're not going to respond to it because a particular team or group of drivers say they don't drive very well. They don't care nor should they. What they care about is the quality of race. Honestly that's all I care about too. I could care less. Jeff Gordon did a great job of summarizing last week after the race. He said that as long as these cars put on good races, that's all that matters. I agree with him 100 percent on that."
ON HAVING WARD BACK ON THE TRACK AND BEING CLOSE TO HOME AND IF IT'S ANY DIFFERENT THIS WEEKEND: "Certainly having Ward back on the circuit is really neat. I'm glad he's back because he wants to be back. Obviously he has some challenges ahead of him and it's been real hard on him missing some races and not being able to compete at the level he wants to compete at. For me and I'm sure for him has taken a lot of the fun out of him being at the race track. I'm just telling you, I don't care what is going on when you're not performing at the level that you want to perform at, it's no fun being here. Ward and I aren't the kind of people that come here because we enjoy spending over a 100 nights a year in a motor home and laying on the couch at nine o'clock at night watching television because that's all there is to do. That's not why we are here. We're here because we love to compete and when you can't compete it's pretty miserable. It hasn't been fun watching Ward not being able to run well for anybody. At the same token, one of the reasons he went there is because he believes he can help propel that team into being able to perform better. I think he can too. It's just going to take some time."
SOME PEOPLE HAD PROBLEMS WITH THE EXHAUST PIPES AND CARBON MONOXIDE LAST WEEK. DID YOU HAVE PROBLEMS WITH THAT? "I heard a little bit about some people thinking that they had had some carbon monoxide issues because of the pipes but the way I heard it was that the pipes were too thin, like they didn't break but they were too thin. I don't get it. Aluminum foil keeps fumes out. If something is too thin, I don't understand how the carbon monoxide fumes would go through a piece of mild steel or stainless steel. That makes no sense to me. Unless exhaust pipes were broken, I don't believe that they received carbon monoxide exposure because the thickness of their pipes. That just makes no sense to me.
"They aren't thin by a rule. We used to break exhaust pipes. Breaking exhaust pipes at the Cup level was very prominent. We used to do it all the time. We have learned how not to break the exhaust pipes. There might be a problem with the Car of Tomorrow breaking exhaust pipes where the other cars don't. I don't see that. I wouldn't understand that. To me that's a team issue not a Car of Tomorrow issue. I don't even know who it was. I hate saying something bad a team but I think that's a team issue."
IS THERE A CONCERN WITH THE FRONT SPLITTER TEARING INTO A TIRE ALSO IS THERE A CONCERN WITH THE FRONT SPLITTER TEARING INTO A TIRE? "I guess you're talking about the 07 and the 9 car. I saw a replay of that and Clint seemed to think that they did touch just a little bit but I don't there was evidence that it touched the splitter. I watched the fall race from here last year, I watched it this morning and there's a really similar incident where two cars drove into turn one and the car on the bottom kind of moved up and just barely touched the guy on the outside and it cut it left rear. I don't know if it was a splitter that did that or not but Clint did seem to think that they had barely touched and that that is what cut his tire but we weren't sure that it was the splitter's fault because when they looked at it they weren't sure that it ever touched anything. So that's really all I know. Certainly something is sticking out of the race car it would lend to make you think that it could cause a problem. It's not sharp. Typically the sidewall is the softest part of the tire and the sidewall will cut easier. I just don't know."
CAN YOU GIVE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE TEXAS RACE? DO YOU HAVE SPECIAL TRADITIONS WITH YOUR KIDS OR SPECIAL PLANS YOU HAVE FOR EASTER WEEKEND? "For Easter we typically go on a family vacation and my wife brings more stuff than she should because it's Easter and I have to carry a lot more bags than I want to. That's pretty much our tradition. Of course that's like that everywhere we go. Honestly I view that weekend as the last chance for a long time to just kind of get away as a family because you guys are all very aware of the schedule because a lot of you travel every weekend too. Once next weekend is done then the grind of the year starts. So I view that as a time to kind of catch your breathe and go do something as a family that you're not going to have time to do anymore.
"As far as Texas, I've believe they've done some work on the center of one and two to try to get rid of the big bump that was there. That will have little impact on the quality of race in my opinion. We have been really happy with our mile and a half, two mile program so far this year. At the same token, Texas is a place that last year we didn't run very well, didn't qualify very well and didn't run very well. So Texas for whatever reason has been a little bit of a challenge for us and we're viewing that as needing to do better then we've been doing there. I don't know why but we haven't run as well there as we need to. Obviously we take one race at a time but we're really looking at Texas pretty hard because we need to be able to perform better there and it's been a struggle for us."
ON CLINT BOWYER'S DEVELOPMENT, HOW MUCH HE HAS IMPROVED AND HIS OPINION OF HOW WELL HE HAS DONE: "Clint's done a great job. Clint did a great job last year. The amount of racing experience that Clint has at this level is really limited. If you really look at the number of races that Clint ran in a Busch car before he went Cup racing, it's a very small number. And I thought he did a great job in the Busch car and I thought he stepped into he Cup car and has done a great job too. He has continued to get better. He has continued to understand the things that have stood in their way of being successful and his mind is in the right place. He understands this is hard. He understands it's a challenge. He's a hell of a lot of fun to be around. He keeps things light around the shop. He keeps things light at the race track even when things aren't going well. He's really good for our team. He brings a lot of youthful enthusiasm. It won't surprise me for him to have more success than any of us not only in the future but currently. He and Gil (Martin) do a great job together. Clint's up on it and we're going to have to deal with Clint for a long time and that's a good thing."
IS THIS A PLACE YOU'VE MARKED YOUR CALENDAR TO DO BETTER AT THIS TIME OR DO YOU FORGET ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED HERE IN THE PAST AND PUT IT OUT OF YOUR MIND LIKE IT NEVER HAPPENED? "Well it's a little bit of both. It's a new year and we're focused on it. The things we did do well last year we don't pay a whole lot of attention to or focus a great deal on the things we didn't do well. Obviously one of the things we didn't do well was Martinsville. Not only did we break but we ran terrible. So we're always trying to improve in the areas that we're not strong in and Martinsville, not only based on just where we finished and the ramifications of that, but our performance was sub par. So our effort to be better has more to do not with the consequences of breaking an engine last year but with the poor performance. If you're going to compete at a high level and compete to win championships, if you can't run with the 11, the 20, the 48, those guys on the short tracks, then in my opinion you can't win a championship. We put a lot of effort on it because our competition was doing better than we were more so than because we broke an engine last year."
-credit: gm racing