JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Talladega Superspeedway and discussed racing at Talladega, race strategy, the role of teammates and other topics. COMING OFF A SOLID RUN AT MARTINSVILLE, GIVE US YOUR ...
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Talladega Superspeedway and discussed racing at Talladega, race strategy, the role of teammates and other topics.
COMING OFF A SOLID RUN AT MARTINSVILLE, GIVE US YOUR THOUGHTS FOR THIS WEEKEND: "Well, it was kind of the ultimate tale of our year this year. We've been really, really fast and have not found a way to win races and that certainly has been disappointing. I feel like we are getting smarter and stronger. It has been painful but we are moving in the right direction. We look forward to coming here this weekend. This is always an exciting race obviously. Hope we can run in the front and have a chance to run as well as we did in the spring. We were really fast here in the spring and thought we had a great chance to win the race until when we were leading the race and got a piece of debris on the grill and had to pit real late in the race. That did us in. But we had a fast car and hopefully we can have that same speed this time."
HAVE YOU AND KEVIN HARVICK TALKED AFTER LAST WEEKEND? "I think we are both very competitive people. Everybody on the race track is a competitive person. I think the best way I can describe it, RCR is like a family and sometimes family argue amongst themselves and carry on probably more with your family than they do with people they don't even know. That is probably what happened with us last week. We sat down and had a great meeting and talked about it and we'll be better teammates for it. Both of us could have handled that situation better, both of us had something to learn from it. It is completely over. And again, I think we will be stronger for it.
"It is hard man. Being teammates is hard. You always expect more out of your teammate. You are trying to be a good teammate, but you are also trying to beat your teammate and it's a very very difficult...I'm surprised we don't have more incidents to be quite honest. Kevin and I are good. We had a great meeting on Tuesday and again, I think in the long run it will actually help us."
AS STRONG AS YOU WERE IN THE SPRING AND KEVIN WON THE RACE, IS YOUR ASSIGNMENT SUNDAY SINCE HE IS THE RCR GUY WITH A REAL SHOT IN THE CHASE, MORE TO GO OUT THERE AND HELP HIM AND HOOK UP WITH HIM? "You know, we've had zero discussion about that. We actually had discussion, and it is very clear to all of us at RCR, if you are in a position to help your teammate, you go help them. But you don't do that if it is going to hurt you. That is kind of the way it has to be. I think you hear a lot of people, like I talked about earlier about teammates, you have a situation with a teammate the last place you want to go is Talladega the week after because teammates always get their feelings hurt here. But the reality of it is, and I think we handle it really well, is that if a teammate can help me, I want him to help me. But I don't want him to help me if it is going to hurt them. That is not fair to them. And by the way, I don't want to help them, if it is going to hurt me either. So we don't have any team orders that says 'hey, go push Kevin. Go make it so he can do it'. If I can help Kevin, I certainly will. I won't do that at the jeopardy of hurting me and my team and Kevin wouldn't want me to. Kevin or Richard wouldn't want us to do that. This is still racing. We are RCR, but at the same time, we have to go and do the very best we can for each individual team. If we don't do that then I think we really mess with the credibility of the sport."
THE SITUATION WITH RPM IS THE LATEST IN A SERIES OF NON-RACING PEOPLE GETTING IN THE SPORT AND NOT BEING ABLE TO STAY AFLOAT FOR WHATEVER REASON. DO YOU SEE ANY KIND OF COMMON DENOMINATOR IN THESE SITUATIONS? "I hate to lump everybody up in one pile and saying every guy that's not a racer that comes in is not successful because. I don't think that is fair. I think that this is different than other businesses. We have seen a lot of people come and try to bring a lot of money and obviously you have to have money to be successful. But where you spend that money is what really matters and the efficiencies that you learn to garner are really, really important. It takes years of experience I think to do that. I don't think that they came in here and just threw money at everything. I think that they came, they paid a premium for a race team, it appears me. They paid a tremendous amount of money, probably a little over-valued. They are in at a high purchase price and now with the economy with the way it is, it is hard to make that work. It is kind of hard to fault them when you are looking a sport when they bought in at how successful the sport was. Sponsors were, I don't want to say readily available, but obviously more available than they are now. The money being spent was greater then. Without having the years of experience to understand the ebb and flow, I think it is a little difficult to know what you are getting in to. I think they are a lot smarter now and the question is will they be strong enough to live through the learning phase. Every car owner has gone through it. Every car owner has had moments where they were really on the brink. Today it happens quicker because the investment is so much taller. I don't want to generalize in saying well, they aren't a Richard Childress or a Rick Hendrick or a Jack Roush and that means they don't know what they are doing. But, without a doubt, the experience that those guys have garnered has meant a great deal to them on how they run their companies."
IF YOU WERE TRYING TO PUT A PERCENTAGE ON IT, HOW MUCH DO YOU THINK WHAT TRANSPIRES ON A RACE LIKE THIS WILL BE SUNDAY IS TOTALLY IN YOUR CONTROL AND HOW MUCH IS IN SOMEBODY ELSE'S CONTROL AND AS A DRIVER HOW DIFFICULT IS IT TO GRASP THE FACT THAT YOU CAN DO POSSIBLY EVERY SINGLE THING RIGHT AND STILL COME UP ON THE LOSING END? "This is two of 38 races is the way I approach it. We run 38 races right? You run here different than you run everywhere else. So, you have to accept Talladega for what it is. At the same time, you have to take responsibility for your actions. It is very very difficult when things happen and there was nothing that you could do. But I don't think it is right to go into the race with the pre-conceived notion that something is going to happen to you with nothing you can do about it. Because that takes you off the hook and ultimately puts you on the hook if you know what I mean. I think that it is real important to every incident you are involved in at Talladega, to go back and look at it really really really closely and make sure you couldn't do something different. Here and Bristol are the only race tracks we go to where a wreck happen and drivers get out and they say 'that is just Bristol' or 'that is just plate racing'. We tend to blame to it on the racing rather than on ourselves. It is without a doubt the biggest opportunity to have something happen to you that you didn't do anything wrong. There is no question that is here. But you can't think like that. You have got to believe that you are going to be able to be in control. You have to believe you are going to have an impact on your result and what happens. To me, that is the only way you can approach it. This is the highest risk for being involved in something that you had absolutely nothing to do with."
THE TWO-CAR BREAK AWAY THING PLAYED A BIG IMPACT IN THE LAST TWO SPRING RACES HERE IN TERMS OF THE FINISH, CLINT (BOWYER) SAID YOU GUYS HAVE KIND OF DISCUSSED IT, CAN YOU GIVE US YOUR TAKE ON IT? "He did? (LAUGHS) He wasn't supposed to say that. You know, I think teammates can work with each other and make that happen but it has to be the right situation. It is hard to fabricate that. Some of it is timing. Some of it is you catch a guy at the right time. If you are third in line and your teammate is behind you, he can push you all you want. You aren't going any faster than the guy that is in front of you. You so have to be in a position where you can have a breakaway and that is very difficult to fabricate. That is something that kind of happens on its own. If you are leading the race, I think you can fabricate that pretty well. If you are the first two cars in a line, you tend to make that thing happen. But if you're not in the front of a pack, it is really hard to put all that stuff together to be able to take advantage of it. So if you are relying on that, I think you are probably relying on something that you don't know you can do. We've seen that thing really work on two different occasions. One of them was on a restart where (Brad) Keselowski was pushing Carl (Edwards). On the restarts, the thing gets single file and kind of gets spread out for a half to three-quarters of a lap. That let that happen and then with Kevin (Harvick) and Jamie (McMurray), they were leading the race. Those are the kind of situations you have to be in to take advantage of that and I think you can. If you are in those situations, you can certainly take advantage of that but everybody is fighting to be in that position. And, there are only going to be three or four are actually in the position to take advantage of it."
WITH THE REPAVING OF DAYTONA, THERE IS GOING TO BE SOME TESTING THERE, WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE NASCAR REVISIT THE TESTING POLICY ALSO WOULD THAT MAKE THE HENDRICKS, THE GIBBS AND MAYBE YOUR TEAM STRONGER AND EVEN BETTER? "I like to test but I am a proponent of the testing policy that we have in effect today. I think that if we can save the car owners some money by not testing and not having a negative impact on the race, then I think that is a great thing. If we believe that not testing hurts the racing, then we should test some more. But I don't have any evidence that's going on. I think going to Daytona is a great idea with the repave. There is Kentucky, there is a possibility of some other race tracks being paved. I think that we should go to those race tracks to test for obvious reasons. Short of that I don't think that testing should be allowed because it saves the car owners a lot of money and doesn't negatively impact the racing. The teams that are best suited for testing or not testing are the teams that are going to be successful and it is your job as a team to structure your team so you can be successful no matter what the rule is."
NEARLY A THIRD OF THE DRIVERS ENTERED HERE FOR THE CUP RACE HAVE FLIPPED OR GOTTEN UPSIDE DOWN AT THIS PLACE AND ALSO IN THE LAST THREE RACES HERE WITH SO MANY OF THE WRECKS IN THE LAST TEN LAPS GET WRECKED, AT WHAT POINT ARE THESE FIGURES NOT ACCEPTABLE OR WHY ARE THEY ACCEPTABLE? "There is a reason that we wreck at the end of the race and it's because for 140 laps, 130 laps, when somebody is trying to fill a hole, you let them do it. The cost to you isn't great so you allow it. When it starts to get to the end of the race, that spot is coveted and you want it and so you end up doing things that you wouldn't normally do because if you don't, you aren't going to have a chance to win the race. That is nature of the beast. You don't know you are going to wreck. If you lift when you really want to lift an awful lot of times, it really costs you. A lot of these wrecks when they happen, a guy didn't not lift and he knew he was going to get in the wreck. He didn't not life or he does something because he is trying to make something happen and it is everybody in one spot trying to make it happen and that is why we have the wrecks. I feel pretty confident that Sunday's race will go green, caution at some point, green, green, caution at some point, green, caution, caution, caution, checkered flag. Because that seems like what they always do. At the end of the day, it is our responsibility as drivers. Restrictor plate racing puts you in positions in no other kind of racing. There's no other kind of racing that puts you in these situations. That is why we have the wrecks."
ABOUT FIVE YEARS AGO, THERE SEEMED TO BE A PREVAILING VIEW THAT THE RACING PEOPLE WERE GOING TO BE THERE WAS GOING TO BE SO MUCH MONEY BROUGHT IN BY THESE CAPTAINS OF INDUSTRY THAT THEY COULDN'T COMPETE, MANY TEAMS WERE LOOKING FOR INVESTORS BECAUSE THEY THOUGHT THAT WAS THE ONLY WAY TO KEEP UP, BUT IF YOU LOOK AT RESULTS, THE EXAMPLE OF SUCCESS IF JOE GIBBS, WHY IS THAT? "If I had a lot of money and I went and bought an NFL team, I'm not so sure I would know how to do that. I might think I know how and I might be a great fan of the sport and I might think I know what the Panthers need to do to make a roster change to be a better team. But, the reality of it is, who knows. The reason that Richard Childress and Jack Roush and Joe Gibbs and Rick Hendrick and those guys have been here for a long time is because they know the sport. Joe did it probably quicker than the rest of them as far as his motorsports experience. He did a great job of hiring the right people to fill the void that he had in it. A great leader, a great manager, a great owner of something, that doesn't mean he is going to be great at everything. You have to have a sense and a feel for whatever business you are in to be successful at it. As I said, me bringing, if I had the money to go buy the Panthers, Just because I have the money, doesn't mean I know what I am doing with it. I am not being derogatory, but there is a reason that some people are successful at it and more successful than others. That is because of their skill set. That has been exhibited and not everybody is going to be as good as the good ones."
IF NASCAR GAVE A POINT FOR EVERY LAP LED HERE, HOW WOULD THAT CHANGE THE DYNAMIC OF THIS RACE? "It would make it better. It would make it, I don't know. A point for every lap? So if you led 100 laps, you get 100 points? That would make a difference wouldn't it. You couldn't ride around in the back. You would have to have to go to the front. I'm not supporting this idea, but I will say it would make this race much more exciting. It would put you in a position to have to be in the front. It would make it exciting. There are some teams on Sunday that are going to ride around in the back because there is nothing to gain from running in the front. I shouldn't say there is nothing to gain but there is not as much to gain here as there is everywhere else. It would make a very interesting race."
-source: gm racing