JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO SS, TALKED WITH MEDIA ABOUT THE TEAM'S PROGRAMS, TONY STEWART'S COMMENTS, AND MORE ON TONY STEWART'S COMMENTS: "I didn't agree with his comparison with the wrestling or with him saying NASCAR ...
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO SS, TALKED WITH MEDIA ABOUT THE TEAM'S PROGRAMS, TONY STEWART'S COMMENTS, AND MORE ON TONY STEWART'S COMMENTS:
"I didn't agree with his comparison with the wrestling or with him saying NASCAR didn't run a fair race. I didn't agree with those things. The conversation about cautions I think is okay to have. I think that's a reasonable conversation to have. TV is talking about it. I think Tony exaggerated when he made the comparison. It was counter-productive rather than productive. But Tony didn't mean any harm by it. He was trying to make a point. Tony is a racer's racer. And all he was trying to say was, 'hey, let's just make sure we're thinking about the racers'. I just think he over-exaggerated. That's just my opinion. I don't think Tony meant any harm by it. I think he meant good by it.
"Our sport is an interesting sport. We don't have time-outs. We don't have two-minute warnings. I believe in my heart that this sport has mostly benefited by having cautions mostly early in the race. Maybe we just ought to have them. Maybe at lap 40 we ought to have a caution. When the race starts, the track is different than it was when we had practice. The 30th place car is greatly advantaged by having a caution so he can work on his car so that there are more cars that are able to be competitive when the race ends. That's the advantage of cautions. The disadvantage is that every caution, someone gets hurt. So when we throw a caution, we have to understand that we're hurting people too. It's a difficult thing.
"Hey, I go to a football game and it's like they never play. The stop and they play and they stop and play and they stop more than they play and it's like, good gosh, that gets old. But stoppage in play does help how many cars can be competitive. But every time there is a caution, somebody gets hung out. Somebody has already pitted. Somebody was good on long runs. But as a rule, it gives more teams a chance to get their stuff together.
HAVE YOU EVER QUESTIONED THE VALIDITY OF A DEBRIS CAUTION? "I questioned last year's race at Atlanta. There was rollbar pad on the race track and I was furious about it. I can't say I've never questioned the validity of a call. I can't say I've never done that. I think for the most part, what I see them do is to do their best.
"Two weeks ago at Texas, I don't even know what it was, but there was a huge piece of debris on the race track for a couple of laps. They did their very best not to throw a caution to keep from hurting somebody. The thing in all of this that drives me kind of crazy is any belief by teams or fans that NASCAR does something to help a particular team. That drives me whacko. I'd quit if I believed that's where we are. I'd just have to quit. I don't believe they'd throw a caution so Jeff Gordon could win Phoenix. That worked out that the No. 24 car got lucky. It wasn't NASCAR's fault. I don't think they'd throw a caution so the Lowe's car could win a race at Lowe's Motor Speedway. I think that's ludicrous. If I ever believe that it's like that, I'd quit. And that's the thing that drives me crazy in all of this. It's NASCAR's responsibility and the charge to look into the overall good of the sport. And I think they do a damn good job of that."
ON THE SEASON TO DATE: "Well, we've started off pretty well. We certainly have some areas we need to be better in. Our Car of Tomorrow needs to be stepped up. Our superspeedway program, we need to work a little more on. We have a lot of room to grow and we're going to have to if we're going to stay a contender. We've had some good fortune that we haven't had any catastrophic races. We do need to be better and we're working hard to be better."
ON THE SPONSORSHIP HEARING "I've spoken to RCR representatives that were at the hearing. It's a difficult spot for us to be in. We have a sponsor that has been in the sport for a long time. They want to continue their involvement in the sport. There's not a whole lot to say."
DO YOU THINK TONY STEWART'S REMARKS HAVE DAMANGED THE INTEGRITY OF THE SPORT? "Certainly one of the things that our sport has to have is credibility. When the fans watch the races, they have to know that NASCAR doesn't have an interest in one particular team. And anytime there is a hint of that, I don't think it's good for the sport. Although, this sport has to be willing to talk about the issues that people are talking about. I've watched shows where they'll (TV) come right out and say if we can find a caution, we're going to show it to you. Tony didn't start that conversation. That's something that I think the sport should do. Again, there are two sides to the story. When competitors have an issue, we need to be able to have those conversations and the sport has to be willing to talk about it and I think we need to be careful about how we address it."
STEWART SAID HE DIDN'T KNOW WHY HE DIDN'T GO TO NASCAR, BUT THAT HE WOULD FROM NOW ON TO AT LEAST EXPRESS HIS CONCERN: "Tony is a racer. Do you know what I mean? It was on his mind and he said it. Tony is an outspoken guy and when he has something on his mind, that's what he's going to do. He's going to say it. And I'm proud of him. I don't think it's necessarily productive, but at the same time, I'm proud that he said what he said. "That's one of the things that make our sport interesting. It's drivers and team owners and people that have personalities and it comes out. When I have an issue, I can go into that trailer. I have Mike Helton's cell phone number; I have his home phone number, I have Brian France's numbers. When I have an issue, they have always been open to being called. It's our responsibility to use that. The deal is to be willing to call them. We have to, as competitors, be able to do that. This is honestly, what we do. And we need to understand that we're lucky to be able to do it. We need to be trying to make it better.
"And I think that's what Tony was honestly trying to do. Tony didn't have malice in his comment. Tony was trying to make it better. Whether he went about that in the right direction or not, we can debate about. I believe that NASCAR's doors are open. They don't always agree with you, which by the way, they shouldn't. But they are very open to listen to you comments and your opinions and your beliefs. Like I said, they don't always say okay, we're going to change that if that's how you want it. Very rarely do they do that. But they do listen and I think ultimately, your opinion is valued.
"You can say almost anything you want to say, but how you say it is important. And that's something that Tony failed in. And I'm sure he'd admit that. But Tony is a racer. He's a smart guy and his opinions should be listened to. He didn't go about it in the right way. But he didn't have any malice by it.
"I'm tired of talking about it, I really am. Tony didn't start this conversation. Other people started this conversation. Tony put an exclamation point on it, without a doubt. But as far as I'm concerned, I don't believe they throw cautions in an effort to help the No. 24 car or the No. 48 car or the No. 8 car over me."
-credit: gm racing