Sears Point: Jeff Burton - GM top-ten interview

BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO SS Q. It's going to be a little warm this weekend. Yeah, it is going to be warm, but that's what you get paid to do. You get paid to be in shape, so I don't let ...


Q. It's going to be a little warm this weekend.

Yeah, it is going to be warm, but that's what you get paid to do. You get paid to be in shape, so I don't let those things get in the way. Certainly road course racing is very hot: The brakes are hot, gears are hot, transmission is hot and that all transfers to the driver, so you have to be in shape if you want to do this.

Q. How good does this year feel for you right now?

Well, we certainly feel like, you know, we've done a nice job to this point in some areas and there's also a lot of areas we need to improve in. So we're not really paying a whole lot of attention to what we've done. We're trying real hard to pay attention to what we need to do in the future.

And, you know, there's great examples of people coming here and being very high in points and not getting into the Chase, and there's examples of people not being in the points that get in the Chase. We have 11 races to go, and that's what we're focusing on. We're working hard to be better. We're not just sitting still. We're working hard to be better and that's a good place to be.

Q. Understanding that, is there some satisfaction in proving to the people who said Jeff Burton is finished up?

Well, I mean, you know, I have an ego just like everybody. I take a lot of pride in being competitive and I feel like I'm good at what I do. Of course, everybody does. Certainly what I think of myself is more important to me than what other people think.

But when your peers recognized your abilities and the fans recognize your abilities, certainly that means something. If you gave me my choice, that's the way it would be. But at the end of the day, it matters most to what I think of myself and what the people closest to me think of me, and you know, I work hard to make sure that they are always in check.

Q. Have you had to change the way you drive? For a long time, you said you weren't feeling the new tires and so forth -

I wasn't saying that. That was other people saying that. When you're driving cars that don't go around the corner, then you're trying to do to do everything to get them around the corner and when you're driving stuff that does, then you're able to do that. So for a lot of reasons, and some of which I place squarely on my shoulders over the last three years, I haven't driven a car that could go around the corner the way it needed to. That's just a fact.

So, you know, part of coming to RCR was putting myself in a position where we weren't building something and knowing we weren't where we needed to be but felt like we could get there and build a program that would work. Again, we're not 100% there, but we're gaining on it.

Q. You played havoc last year on the transmissions and a lot of the engines. How does the team feel, how do you feel with it being about 102, 103 degrees this weekend about the car handling and about yourself physically?

This track is very slick. It's a very slick racetrack, and the hotter it gets, the more slick it gets, and handling is going to be a premium as it always is. But the slicker it gets, the more important that is. And from a hardware standpoint, the hotter things get, gears, brakes, engines ?? the reliability ?? which the drivers, too, the worse they are on being consistent. So the driver part of it, we could be table to take out of the equation ?? inaudible ?? if you take care of yourself and you can be in good shape. The other two issues, we just have to make sure we do a good job and we take care of it all we can.

Q. Do you use extra protection on your feet for this weekend?

I wear all I can every week and I do the same thing every week. So if we go to Michigan and it's 70 degrees, I've got the same heat protection as if we go here and it's 110. We do the same thing.

Q. So the heat doesn't have a lot of meaning for you in the car then?

Oh, it has meaning, but it won't be what prevents us from getting done what we need to get done. It's certainly something you need to be prepared for but that preparation came months ago, it doesn't happen this weekend.

Q. What's your comfort level at this track for this year?

My record here is horrendous. My performance here has been good, and the thing that we need to do is leave here this weekend with a good performance, and a good record. That's really all that counts at the end of the day, so the thing I'm nervous most about is getting caught up into something that we don't need to be in, braking apart, getting run over, me making a mistake. That's the thing I'm most nervous about. We've been highly competitive here and have run very well and fast and have run very well.

I hope and expect to do that again. But we've got to prevent what we've had happen a lot here and that's a really bad thing.

Q. Are the drivers that don't have the experience the guys you stay away from if you're running behind them?

I can get run over by somebody that's been around for a long time. A lot's made about rookies but to be quite honest, rookies tend to be respectful -- they tend to be good on the racetrack. It's more when you get a comfort level and you think you know everything, that's when you get dangerous.

Q. Can you talk about the NASCAR switching to unleaded fuel and what you think the timetable is?

I think from a mechanical standpoint, I can't speak about the feasibility of the timetable. I will say that the sooner we go to unleaded fuel, the better, for health reasons and for ecology reasons, obviously, but mainly health reasons. We certainly need to get there as quickly as we can. I applaud them for doing it. We need to accelerate it all that we can.

Q. Can you talk about how important it is at this stage going into this race and Daytona and where you are in the standings? Well, I mean, you know, I think that Infineon, Daytona and Watkins Glen have potential to be really big races in the point in time. It's extremely tight. From tenth to 14 to 15 is pretty tight. You'll see some people that are not in the top ten today get into the top ten before the Chase and you'll obviously see some people that aren't in it be out of it. Every race is important, but those three races in particular are volatile because they don't have potential for taking out a bunch of people. You just go back and look at history in this race -- it has potential to get ugly, too. They are three very important races.

Q. How do you feel about going back to Daytona; you were pole sitter the last time?

Well, we didn't run very good in the race. In qualifying, we worked exceptionally hard to make sure we qualified well and we were able to do some things that because we were not ?? we won't be able to do this time. But we're taking back a different car, a car that we believe drives better in an effort to make sure the car handles well, and I really don't have an opinion until we get down there and we see what we've got.

-gm racing

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton