Jeff Burton, No. 31 LENOX Industrial Tools Impala SS, met with members of the media and talked about why drivers like racing at Richmond, what the key will be driving the Impala SS here, his thoughts on safety with NASCAR's new-generation race car...
Jeff Burton, No. 31 LENOX Industrial Tools Impala SS, met with members of the media and talked about why drivers like racing at Richmond, what the key will be driving the Impala SS here, his thoughts on safety with NASCAR's new-generation race car and more.
ON WHY DRIVERS LIKE THIS TRACK: "It's the options that are here. You don't have to run right on the bottom. You can run the top groove. You can run the bottom. The grip level is good. It's wide enough to put on good racing but small enough to put on good racing too. It's just a good mix of a superspeedway and a short track."
WHAT WILL BE THE KEY HERE WITH THE IMPALA SS? "It's all about corner speed. When those cars drive bad they drive real bad. Having corner speed is going to be imperative. But it's like that every week, whatever car you are driving but with this car when it's bad it's really bad. You've got to make sure that you stay on the good side of that."
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN BRING WITH THE IMPALA SS HERE? "I think the more we run 'em the more we can continue to bring stuff that we learned from the previous race. The tracks are all different for sure but if you've got your program working right you can apply the things you did the week before even if it's a different race track. The philosophy might change but anytime you continue to do something over and over and over, if you're not getting smarter about it then you're doing it wrong."
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE FOR YOU AND RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING TO BE RUNNING SO WELL YET HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS IS SO STRONG? "We're not running as well as we need to. We don't look at it as hey, look how great we're doing but somebody is doing better. We look at is as just somebody doing better and the Hendrick group has been able to do it better. There's been times that we've been better but as a whole they've certainly been a little faster and a little more consistent. We feel good about who we are. We know we need to be better. We knew coming into the year we're going to have to improve throughout the year. That's no big surprise to us. That group is doing a better job than we are right now. It doesn't mean we're going to quit. It means that we have to answer that challenge. That's as simple as it gets."
COULD HENDRICK'S DOMINANCE GO ON ALL SEASON? "It could go on. We saw the 17 dominate a whole year. We've seen the 24 dominate a year. We've seen that before. There's no question that every team in this garage is aiming to be better. Some teams will get better and some teams won't. Without a doubt, it's possible that Hendrick could continue it. We certainly are going to do our best to make sure they don't."
ON JEFF GORDON'S SUCCESS: "I don't judge drivers on one year. I just don't do that. I know that Jeff Gordon is a talented driver. Even in the years that he didn't have as much success as he was used to, I never felt like Jeff Gordon wasn't able to get it done by any means. It doesn't surprise me that Jeff and that team are running as well as they are. It doesn't surprise me in the least. If you look at what they did especially in the Chase last year. I thought the 24 really got it together and the 48 ran well most of the year especially from about Indy on the 48 really found a way to step it up and in the last 10 races I thought overall those two cars were probably a little better than everybody else and I think they've improved on it yet again. So I'm not surprised by it and I expect every year that the 24 is going to be a contender."
ON THE 24 TEAM NOT WINNING HERE SINCE 2000. WILL THIS TRACK STOP HIM? "The track isn't supposed to stop them, it's every other team. I don't view it as us against Hendrick Motorsports. I view it as us needing to go out and do a better job. We're not focusing on what Hendrick Motorsports is doing in order to get better. We've got to focus on what we're doing. If somebody beats them, it's not going to be the track, it's going to be because somebody did a better job of using the track to their advantage. That's the way I view it."
HOW MUCH FARTHER ALONG ARE YOU BECAUSE OF THE TEST HERE? "Coming here I thought we were going to be a lot further along. When we unloaded I thought 'Wow, I wish we hadn't even come to test.' I don't know. It took us the whole practice to get where we could be competitive. I don't know. If we did a good job at the test then certainly we should be able to apply the things that we learned at the test and be able to be competitive. That's probably the worst practice we've had in a long time and we're a little confused about where to go from here. I don't know. We're not the right people to ask right now because we obviously didn't do a very good job of using the information."
ON COMMEMORATING THE TRAGEDY AT VIRGINIA TECH: "In my opinion, it's one of those things that we need to try to provide continuing help for. There's a lot of young people that this will affect their whole lives and how they deal with that over the next few years is very important to their long term emotional health. I'm more concerned about that than I am about just remembering it. It doesn't do a whole lot of good to just remember it. It does a whole lot of good to go out and try to help somebody and hopefully we can find a way to do that. I'm not one of those people that believes putting a decal on a vehicle or flying a flag is going to make things better other than let people know you're thinking of them. As a community we need to be trying to make things better and have a positive impact on the people that can use it."
ON THE TRACK AT DARLINGTON: "Darlington is the most historic track we go to. It has a deep history and the heritage there is like no where else. I think it's the best race track on the circuit and really look forward to going there. I think it's going to be a huge challenge with this car. It's going to be extremely difficult to get everything right but that's what Darlington is all about it. It's about it being a big challenge and it's about trying to find a way to answer that challenge. To me it's the coolest place we go because when you go there it's kind of like stepping back in time. I used to sit in what was then turn four in the covered grandstands watching races there when I was a kid and it looks a whole lot like that still today."
COULD IT BE CHAOS THERE TRYING TO GET THE CAR OF TOMORROW ADJUSTED TO THAT PLACE? "I don't know. It's going to be difficult. There's no question it's going to be difficult. Without a doubt it's going to be harder than it is with the older car but that's what we do. It's supposed to be hard."
DO YOU FEEL SAFER DRIVING THE CAR OF TOMORROW? "I don't feel unsafe driving race cars. If I had felt unsafe, I wouldn't do it. I don't get into a race car judging how safe I feel. I don't think that's anybody's mentality. I think that's a big misconception in the media and with some fans that we sit in the cars and we drive harder because there are softer walls and we drive harder because of HANS devices and all that. That's ludicrous. We don't drive any different than we did before."
IS THE CAR OF TOMORROW SAFER THAN THE PREVIOUS CAR? "Yeah, I think there are some parts that are better, without a doubt."
ON RICHARD PETTY SAYING THE CAR OF TOMORROW IS LIKE THE RACE CARS THEY DROVE IN THE 1970s AND IF CURRENT DRIVERS WOULD GET ADVICE FROM DRIVERS DURING THOSE TIMES: "I think Richard's point is that it's more similar than what we were doing but it's not similar. There's nothing similar about the Car of Tomorrow and the car he drove at Darlington in his heyday. There's nothing similar about it. It may be more similar than what we've had but the similarities are pretty far apart. They are closer together but still way apart."
ON MARK MARTIN SAYING HE'S THE VOCAL LEADER OF THE DRIVERS RIGHT NOW: "Well I hope I do a good job. I really have a passion for this sport. It's what I enjoy doing. It's what wakes me up in the morning and I like to be involved in it. I like to think that when I leave, I've had a positive impact on it. I didn't raise my hand and say 'I want to be this guy.' It's just my personality. When I'm involved in something I'm totally involved in it and I hope I don't disappoint anyone."
ON JEFF GORDON STEPPING UP AT THE DRIVERS MEETING IN TALLADEGA AND HOW THAT WAS RECEIVED BY THE OTHER DRIVERS: "That's not new. We've had drivers do that before. There's nothing unusual about what Jeff did. It just was his turn."
ON IF NASCAR HAS THE RIGHT THINGS IN PLACE TO KEEP ANOTHER DALE EARNHARDT TRAGEDY FROM HAPPENING: "When you're going 200 miles an hour things can happen. I'm not about to say that we're beyond someone being hurt or even killed. There are physics that are involved in this thing and we need it to be as safe as it can possibly be but it's still not the safest way in the world to make a living and that's obvious. Have we made strides and is it better? There's no question. Is it as good as it needs to be? There's no question that it's not. It could never be as good as it needs to be. As long as we have emerging technology and we have the ability to invest in trying to make it better then it can always be better. It's not as good today as it will be four years from now and if it is then we've been doing something wrong for four years."
ON THE CRACK FOUND IN KYLE BUSCH'S HANS DEVICE AND IF IT CONCERNS HIM: "It concerns me without a doubt. We need to know we can depend on all of our safety devices. Being cracked and failing is two different things. If it failed, that's a major problem. I don't think it failed. It would have probably not taken another big hit like that though. That's something that the manufacturer has to look at. I haven't seen that it was cracked. I heard it was cracked. If in fact it was cracked, that's something the manufacturer has to look at and try to make it better."
WHAT DOES IT SAY IF A DRIVER GOES THROUGH A DOZEN CREW CHIEFS IN FIVE YEARS? "It depends on the situation. I'm not a blanket kind of guy where you can just throw a blanket over something and everything is the same. I don't know what you're referring to but I can't make comment about that. There's a lot of things that change and move that would make a person go through that many crew chiefs. Without being intimately involved in it, I can't make comment about it."
-credit: gm racing