JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 PRILOSEC OTC IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway and discussed racing on short tracks, last week's race at Talladega and other topics. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT TOMORROW NIGHT'S...
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 PRILOSEC OTC IMPALA SS, met with members of the media at Richmond International Raceway and discussed racing on short tracks, last week's race at Talladega and other topics.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT TOMORROW NIGHT'S RACE? "I'm excited about it. I think our car is really good. We unloaded with a complete different set-up, which we've been doing a lot lately because without testing you have to try something. The place to do it is here. We ended up being really, really bad there the first practice and got all that changed back and now I feel like we're pretty competitive so I'm pretty excited about it."
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT YOUR ABILITY TO RACE ON SHORT TRACKS? "You kind of have to prepare yourself for it because it is so much more physical and it's so much closer than racing, not necessarily at Talladega, but racing at places we've been racing. I know when we started Martinsville or Phoenix this year I was kind of shocked at how different the racing is on the small tracks. I kind of prepare myself for that, but that's what's cool about this place. The side-by-side racing that you get here is just really special, but last week was real physical and this week will be physical too -- just a lot slower."
WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE ON THE LAST LAP AT TALLADEGA LAST WEEK? "Well, listen we've been talking about this for a long time and here's the reality of the situation. If you don't bump draft you can't run in the front. If you don't block, you wont run in the front. If you just ride around there trying not to touch anybody, try not to block anybody, you run in the back -- end of story. The yellow line rule -- it's easy to look at last week and say the yellow line rule was bad for that situation, but you forget why the yellow line rule is there. If you were racing or watching racing prior to the yellow line rule, you remember why it was there. It has prevented way more wrecks than its ever caused. I can tell you that. We used to enter turn three at Daytona five or six wide with people on the bottom of the race track. When there was not a boundary it created a major problem so what do you do? That's the great question. Should you do anything? If Carol Edwards hadn't have gotten in the fencing I think everything would have been how great the race was. The fact that he did get in the fencing and people got hurt, that certainly means we need to look at it. But you know what; it's no different than it was 10 years ago, 15 years ago. The only thing NASCAR can do in my opinion and they have two options. The first one is make the cars drive so bad that the cars get spread out. Let's be clear, the wreck that we saw at Talladega on the last lap could have just as easily happened at Michigan. If you're leading the race and you block the guy running second, you might get turned around. At the same token, if (Brad) Keselowski isn't pushing him, they never get to the front so without contact they're not in the front. If Carl Edwards doesn't block, he has no chance of winning. What do you do? So, there's two choices -- separate everybody, make the cars drive so bad that everybody gets separated. Fans are going to hate it. We have given the fans a look at something that they don't want to give back. Rightfully so, it's fun to watch.
"The only other thing you can do is put NASCAR in the position of penalizing you any time that you're involved in an incident. If you cause a wreck, penalize you. They are going to have to judge it. That's a terrible thing because if you're sitting in a race car, you know what happened. If you're watching it you may not know what happened. I spun Kyle Busch out Sunday -- I spun him out. If they would have made the call on me and penalize me, I would have deserved it because it was 100 percent my fault. The problem is, don't penalize me if you're not going to penalize everybody for the 50 races before it. They're in a tough spot. I don't want NASCAR to have to make the call anytime something happens, but that's what its coming to. It's coming because it's easy to say, 'Well, just don't bump draft.' If it works I'm going to do it. That's what I get paid to do. I get paid to get 100 percent out of my race car and if pushing somebody makes my car faster then I'm going to push them -- end of story. The only way to stop it is if you cause a wreck you have to be penalized. The problem I have with it is how do you determine if you caused a wreck or not and who would you have penalized in the last lap wreck -- who would you have penalized? Was it Carl's (Edwards) fault? Was it (Brad) Keselowski's fault? I don't know. Do you penalize both of them? That's the problem and I don't know how we fix it. It's not an easy fix. It's a complicated issue and at the end of the day they're going to have to make us wish that we hadn't of done something that we shouldn't have been doing. That's the only way I know to make it better."
HOW WOULD YOU MAKE THE CARS DRIVE MORE POORLY? "That would be easy to do. Tires, air dams, small wings, high splitters up in there, hard tires -- you could make them drive bad really easily."
WHAT MAKES YOU SO SURE THAT FANS WOULD NOT LIKE THAT TYPE OF RACING? "We go to Bristol and they changed the track and they have less cautions and they say that racing is good so if we go to Talladega and we have the same kind of race at Talladega that we have everywhere else, which to me I don't understand why it's not good enough, people are going to say its boring. We have shown them this picture and then we're going to take it away from them. How many times have you guys heard that Bristol is not as exciting as it used to be? The fans, they love it. Look at the TV ratings, I mean they love it. If you take that away from them they're not going to like it. That's my opinion."
DO YOU THINK TALLADEGA IS MORE ABOUT WHAT GOES ON IN THE CAMPGROUNDS THAN ON THE RACE TRACK? "Are you suggesting that people go to the race track just to hang out? I think people go to the race track to watch a race. The reason that all those people go to the race track is not just because they put a race track there. Would that many people be there if it was a cat race? They go to the race because it's a fun race to watch. They have Alabama football games down there so does it mean there are as many people there as there are at the race track. They have bass fishing tournament down there -- are there as many people there as there are at the race track? There's a reason people go there. It's not just because there's a race track there -- it's the kind of race track is there."
DO YOU FEEL ANY REMORSE ABOUT THE BANKRUPTCY OF CHRYSLER? "I think that our manufacturers bring an awful lot to our sport. They have a deep history in our sport. They were gone for a while, but their history is deep and you certainly pay attention to it. I'm confused -- I'm not sure what to think. The President tells me that it's a good thing that they're filing bankruptcy so I don't understand what to think. I really want to see all the manufacturers being able to be strong and that's the most important thing is jobs and security for employees and all those kind of things and through that they will be able to continue they're marketing efforts and their motorsports efforts. The most important thing is the employees to be quite honest."
DO WE SEE AS GOOD OF A RACE AT TALLADEGA AT 168MPH AS WE DO AT 198MPH? "Yeah, I think you do, but you have the same problem. Slowing the cars down only compounds the problem that we're talking about. Let me be clear, what I think the problem is that there is so many cars in one pack. Having said that, the wreck that has generated this conversation there were two cars. Talladega, I've always said that the trouble with Talladega is that you're sitting there running 25th minding your own business and the fifth-place car lands on top of you. That's the trouble I have with Talladega. Slowing the cars down only compounds that. I don't know if it makes it worse, but it doesn't make it better. The slower you go, the more you have to draft, the more you have to bump draft, the more you have to block. I think that it may actually make it worse. When I say make the cars drive bad, what would happen is you would run 230 miles-per-hour down the straightaway and you would run 180 (miles-per-hour) in the corner. You would get to the corner and you wouldn't be able to drive it. That would be the only way to do that."
DOES THE LACK OF PASSING ON THE INTERMEDIATE TRACKS MAKE THE FANS HUNGRY FOR THE COMPETITION THEY SEE AT TALLADEGA? "If you like a race at Talladega a whole lot, the question is are you going to like that more than a race at Michigan. I guess everybody's different. We're bad trying to group all the fans up in one category. I don't know how to answer your question other than to say that track position is extremely important. The reason track position is extremely important and what's amazing to me is how close the cars run in speed. And I have gone back and looked at my wife's recordings of lap times. The car that's running eighth and the car that's running 20th after 20 laps are running the same speed. You get this pack of cars and everybody runs the same speed. Little things make a big difference so air makes a big difference. The fact that it is more competitive today than its ever been makes air that much more important. That's my view on it. I think that variety is a cool thing. I think the fact that we go to a road course and not everybody likes road course racing. The fact that we go to Richmond and not everybody likes Richmond. We go to Talladega and not everybody likes Talladega. The fact that we do a lot of different types of racing, I think is a great thing for fans because they are going to see something different. It's going to be different here than it is next week. It's going to be different next week than it is the week after that and I think that variety is a great thing.
"Talladega is fun to watch, it's fun to do. I will be honest with you, as much as I've complained about it in the past -- it's a lot of fun. I had a great time. I got three laps down Sunday and never once got upset, I was having fun. It's a blast and road course racing is fun too. I don't know, I think variety is important and some people are going to like it and some people aren't."
-credit: gm racing