Phoenix race winner, Jeff Burton, press conference

JEFF BURTON --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus WHAT ABOUT THE PASS FOR THE LEAD? "I knew Mike Wallace was gonna do everything he could to keep me behind him. He's obviously never won a Winston Cup race. He's in the position of what appears to be...


WHAT ABOUT THE PASS FOR THE LEAD? "I knew Mike Wallace was gonna do everything he could to keep me behind him. He's obviously never won a Winston Cup race. He's in the position of what appears to be that he's auditioning for a job. You take a guy that's auditioning for a job and wanting to win his first Winston Cup race in only his fourth start in that car, that's gonna be an aggressive guy to get by. He's already an aggressive driver and I figured he'd be that much more. I wanted to get by him on the inside, but the way his car was handling I thought he'd race me on the outside to be able to hang with me on the outside. So I decided to try to get by him on the outside a couple of times. I got my fender to his right-rear tire and he came on up anyway. I lifted to keep from wrecking, but I knew that if I ever got door to door with him that he couldn't do that or he would wreck with me and I knew he didn't want to do that. Once I got door to door with him, our car was handling better than he was and it was pretty much over at that point, but he did a good job. He was very aggressive. He raced me clean. He did a great job."

DID YOU HAVE ANY TIRE CONCERNS? "I'm always nervous about having tire problems, but we didn't think we'd have any problems at all. I'm sure what they did was they cut tires. Some of the cars out there make a lot more downforce than what we make and that doesn't help them any. We didn't worry too much about that. For the most part, we were way too loose all day anyway. When you're too loose, if you hurt a tire then you definitely ran over something, so we didn't have much concern about hurting a tire."

WERE YOU SURPRISED MIKE'S TWO-TIRE STRATEGY WORKED AS LONG AS IT DID? "We put on two tires at some point last year and ran well with them. Frank told me before the race, right before they started the engines, that some people were gonna put on two and to be prepared to put on two. I hate putting on two. I like four and he prepared me to put on two, so when I knew he put on two, that didn't surprise me because Frank warned me before the race that there was a good possibility that people would do that."

JACK ROUSH, Car Owner --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus

YOU SWEPT THE WEEKEND HERE. "I'll have to go back and check, but I think this is the first time. I'm pretty sure this is the first time we've won all three and certainly it's the first time we've won all three on one track. Greg Biffle was on a mission. He had a Busch Grand National year that could have been better if he hadn't been a rookie and if I would have had better than a rookie team around him. The team has learned and he's learned. They've missed a few opportunities, but he wants to finish the year on a high note. He thought he'd do real well here. He looked at the schedule and figured out we had one more race than Kyle Busch could run. He said, 'Kyle can run some place else. I'm gonna run Phoenix.' So he put his name on this one. He came out here to do business. Jeff won one time this year and is really good on the short tracks with his favorite car. This is the car he won with last year and this is our 50th win here today in Winston Cup."


DOES THIS WIN COME AT A GOOD TIME? "They always come at a good time. I'm real proud of our team. I'm proud of our car owner. I'm proud of our crew chief. I'm proud of our sponsors. I'm proud of everyone on our team because a lot of teams wouldn't have held up to what we've been through. There would have been a lot of fighting amongst themselves. There would have been a lot of finger pointing. There would have been a tremendous amount of stress over and beyond the stress you already have from not running well. For the most part, we've been able to not have that. The sign of a person's integrity and a person's true character is when things aren't going well. Everybody gets along great when things are going fine and when things aren't going fine, you really find out who is tough and you find out who is committed to the program. To the man, I don't know of anyone on my team that I've been disappointed with in our effort this year. The effort has been awesome, but our results haven't been good. To knock off three top-fives in a row and then to get a win today really shows the character of our team and the heart of our team. I kept telling everybody that we aren't quitters and this is an example of that -- not just today but every race we go into it with enthusiasm and excitement and the belief that we are gonna do what we need to do. Today it all came together for us. We didn't always have the best car today. The 2 car was real fast. At times the 19 was fast. We had a break with the 2 car having a problem, but we were fast at the end. It would have been interesting to see what we could have done the last two runs with those guys because we were really fast those last two runs, but we still had some help. That happens in every race. Every single race somebody has trouble that makes you look back and say, 'Man, that guy had a chance to win.' Part of racing is not having those troubles."

THE 19 RACED HARD TRYING TO GET HIS LAP BACK. "I didn't want him to get his lap back. I didn't let him have it back. What happened was I was paying attention to him and my spotter was talking to some lapped cars trying to give us some room and I looked up and there was stuff going on. So I got checked up and he jumped up on the outside of me. A man that is trying to get his lap back is a desperate man. He drove right up to where all the wrecking stuff was and then I raced him back to the line. I didn't want him to get his lap back and I didn't want Rusty to get his lap back. You give people their lap back when they can't beat you. You don't ever give a guy back a lap when he can beat you. You just can't do that. I didn't want him to get his lap back. I ran him back hard, but he just beat me through the wreck."

HOW HARD IS IT TO STAY PATIENT WHEN YOU WERE TRYING TO PASS MIKE? "It started early in the race. We weren't handling very well. I was complaining. I second-guessed a decision Frankie and I made together. Ten laps into the race I was saying we screwed up and didn't run the right swaybar. That's when you've got to be patient because you forget there's 312 laps. 'My God, somebody is driving away from me. That's a bad thing. That's not what we're supposed to be doing.' That's when patience is really a virtue. When you get to 30 or 40 laps to go and you're faster than the guy in front of you, you don't want to do something that's gonna jeopardize your race, but you've got to get by him. So, understanding where he weaknesses are and where your strengths are, and then taking advantage of those things, that's what you have to do. I don't know if that's patience or not. It's trying to take advantage of the situation that you're in."

FRANK STODDARD, Crew Chief --99-- Citgo SUPERGARD Taurus

DID YOU HAVE ANY TIRE CONCERNS COMING INTO THE RACE? "No, I'm really surprised at all the problems they had out there today. I said earlier on TV, our tires looked great. As Jeff mentioned, we do not have the front downforce when turning these cars that other guys have and it seemed like it was a manufacturer problem to me. It seemed like a lot of Dodges and a lot of Chevrolets -- other than Rusty, who I think just ran over something on the race track because everybody was complaining about debris on the race track -- I was surprised there were that many tire problems. I didn't think it was gonna be that way at all for us."

SO NO REASON TO TALK TO GOODYEAR TODAY? "No. The construction of the tire from my understanding is it wasn't any different than last year's construction, other than the compound is obviously a little harder just like it's been everywhere this year. We really had the same setup in the car camber-wise and things that we had last year. Our spring and shock combination was quite a bit different this year, but our cambers were real close to what they were last year. Based on last year, we didn't have a problem so I didn't have any reason to believe we'd have an issue at all this year."


DO YOU BELIEVE IN MOMENTUM NOW? "Every race is a different race. I think you race per race. I don't think what you do in this race matters what you do in the next race. I just don't see it. If we run poorly today, that doesn't mean we're gonna run poorly next week. Certainly, when you put a string of runs together, that feels good. That feels like you're headed down the right path, but I don't know that momentum means a whole lot."


ON MOMENTUM -- "At this time last year we were on a high note. Matt was securing the rookie championship and Jeff was certainly on his way. Kurt Busch had a number of races he had done very well at and we made the best effort we've made in 13 years over the winter. I could not look back and add a person or replace a priority to try to get ready. We go to Daytona and we have a terrible crash. We have pause throughout the community. We've got to stop and reassess what we're doing and how we're doing it and why we're doing it, and then think of all the reasons why we're not doing things different that we might do and then make a long list of different things that we might do, and then we've got the tire. The tire was the joker -- it was the wild card this year. I applaud Goodyear for creating a scenario where we could go test on the same tires that we were gonna race on, which we had not been able to do before this year. That's been great. They were trying to do the right thing, but it really threw us for a loop. Jeff and Matt and Mark and Kurt all said that their rear ends could not feel the car through that tire. I don't know if other teams had that, but we've had to re-educate a part of their body that's got their brains in it so they could understand what they need to do to the darn tire (laughter)."


CAN YOU WIN ANOTHER RACE THIS YEAR? "There's always that possibility. I'm certainly not gonna stand here today and say we're gonna go win some races between now and then. I feel us much closer to where we were. I hesitate to say this, but I'm gonna say this anyway. I had a nice test at Homestead. I said that before California and I think we got eight laps down or something, but we had a nice test at Homestead. We feel pretty good about Rockingham. We ran real well at Rockingham, but I screwed up and got us wrecked in the spring. I don't know. I feel better about where I am with the feel on the car. I feel normal now. We went to test at Homestead and on the fifth lap I said, 'This is what's wrong with the car. This is the problem.' Today, 'this is the problem.' At Martinsville I could tell you what the problem was. It's been more like that lately. It's not any crew chief. No crew chief, no engineer, no anybody can make these cars run well if the driver can't look them in the eye and tell them what's wrong. We don't have computers, we don't have all the things that other forms of racing have because the formula is much more simple and it makes for better racing. But if I can't tell them what it's doing, then they can't fix it. I've come much closer in the last two or three months of being able to say, 'This is where we're hurting and this is where we need to be better' and our results have shown that."

WAS THE HEAT A PROBLEM TODAY? "I wasn't hot today. I've got myself in pretty good shape. I eat well and drink plenty of water. I do my physical fitness thing and I feel like I'm in the best shape I've ever been. I think that's really paid off for us. About two months ago, I kind of hit the wall and I got tired. It took about two weeks to get over it and once I got over it, I felt great and I feel great today. I felt great since that period. I went through about two or three weeks where I really got drained. I told Frank I had to get away for a little while and get some rest and I did. I actually quit working out for about three weeks and just got some rest. I slept in instead of getting up and working out and since then I've felt great, so heat and those kind of things really aren't a factor for me right now, thank goodness."

THOUGHT PROCESS ON GETTING CLOSE TO THE WALL. "You don't want to hit that wall the way Matt hit it yesterday because that's an ugly wreck. The man that's the best in the world at running against the wall every single lap is Greg Biffle. That cat can get up and he hits it and rubs it. He hits every wall on the race track at least five or six times on the weekend, but he's using all the track. He's getting every bit of speed he can get out of his car. On the road course, you see guys that are really good use all of the road. To run well, you have got to use all of the race track. Wherever you are, whatever corner it is, you have to be willing to get up there and knock the quarterpanel. You don't want to hit it hard, obviously, but every now and then you're gonna rub it and you have to rub it and not hit too hard. That's what you have to do."

WHAT ABOUT NEW HAMPSHIRE AND THE TIRES? "New Hampshire, I have mixed emotions about New Hampshire. I think the tire issue is an issue for 10 or 15 laps. Once you have heat in the tires, the problem is gonna go away, it's just gonna take 10 or 15 laps. I'm not upset about racing in New Hampshire. I figure a lot of people bought tickets, a lot of people decided they wanted to go to New Hampshire so they bought tickets. We run as many races as we run that pay points, so we need to run that race. Maybe we could have run it on a different day or something, I don't know, but we needed to run that race. I have no problem with going there. I cherish that Thanksgiving weekend to spend time with my family and I don't want to miss that day, but it's okay to miss that day because we're going there at Thanksgiving because some idiot did a bad thing to our country. It was okay to take that weekend off and let everybody catch their breath, so that's why we're going there. Maybe we could have done it on a different day, which would have made it a little bit easier, but for whatever reason we're not and the fans deserve to see a race and we'll go up there and race and put on a great show."

-Ford Racing-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Greg Biffle , Mike Wallace , Kurt Busch , Kyle Busch