BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELSS MONTE CARLO SS: ON SITTING 84 POINTS OUT OF LEAD GOING IN TO SUNDAY'S TMS RACE: "To me, what I am looking at, are we in the position to press to try to make something happen? I ...
BEHIND THE HAULER CHAT WITH JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELSS MONTE CARLO SS:
ON SITTING 84 POINTS OUT OF LEAD GOING IN TO SUNDAY'S TMS RACE: "To me, what I am looking at, are we in the position to press to try to make something happen? I still don't think we are there. I used the analogy this week, we are down by seven points, there is five minutes left to go in the game, it is fourth quarter - are going to punt or are we going to try to get a first down. We are still going to punt. We are still going to play our game, we are not going to try to get off course. If we leave here 84 points back, then we will have to think about it. For us right now, I really believe we still have a chance without us having to do miraculous things. Obviously, we are going to have to have a little help. But the way things are going this year and in this Chase, I wouldn't be surprised if we got a little help. My focus is on doing a good job so if we do get some help we can take advantage. The way you do that is to run well."
ON ACTION TAKEN BY NASCAR FOR DEBRIS THAT RESULTED IN LAST CAUTION: "Once it happened and they threw the caution, the damage was done for us. There is no going back on that. Where we are today and where we were Sunday after the race, what is the rule and we going to work hard to catch somebody, and if we do, what are we going to do about it because if we don't, the race track continues to get full of roll bar padding. Robby (Gordon) was only doing what he needed to do for himself. And, by the way, people have been successful at doing that in the past. What he did would have worked in the past and I don't blame him. It is just that NASCAR has been much more strict on things like that. I was upset that it had such a negative impact on us, it is nothing to do with Robby. At the end of the day, I think that rules are only good if they are enforced. If you can't enforce it at the time, then you have to do something later, because if you don't, it is a slippery slope and where does it ever stop."
ON WHAT ESPN WILL BRING TO THE SPORT NEXT YEAR: "I think ESPN brings with it a history of covering sports in a very good way. When they get into something, they really get in to it. They cover football with the pre-game shows, with post-game shows and shows all during the week. I think that is where we get the biggest benefit. We are going to be, because that family of networks is going to be covering the races, when Sports Center comes on, which is a widely watched show, they are going to be talking about NASCAR. They are going to be specific NASCAR Cup shows and I think those things are hugely beneficial. I think they way the cover sports, they do a great job. They do a good job of putting cameras in interesting positions. When you think about the number of sports they cover, the commentary is always good. Whether it is an 11:00 game on a Monday night, the commentary is always good. They do a nice job of presenting a good show no matter what is going on. Since this a major focus of theirs, I believe they are going to do it right. The better job they do, the more enjoyable it is to watch which obviously helps viewership.
"Lisa Cox (RCR public relations representative) and I went up there. We spent a lot of time talking to them. They had a lot of questions, they were very inquisitive. What they didn't know, they wanted to learn. I took that as being a really good thing. They understand they have been out of the sport for a while. They understand that there are some things they need to learn. They seem really inquisitive and want to do a good job. I think they consider themselves back at home. When I talked to them I got the sense they believe this was theirs, and should have never lost it. I think they are out to prove that they can do it, very well and at a high level. That is the sense I got."
ON BEING SATISFIED WITH THE SIZE OF PENALTY LEVELED AGAINST ROBBY GORDON: "I think it was enough to keep it happening again. I have nothing against Robby or anyone in particular. If the penalty is large enough, them people won't commit the crime. In my opinion, the penalty was very large, 50 points is very difficult to attain. Taking 50 points away is to me is a big number, is a really big number. It has everybody's attention."
ON NASCAR PLAYING FAVORITES: " As long as I have been racing, there has always been the talk in the garage, that if someone was doing well, they had to be cheating. That one particular car for three or four years is the company car. And then a few years later, there is another company car. I think this human nature. I will tell you this, I watch a lot of sports and I think it is harder to call walking on Michael Jordan that it is a guy coming in for his rookie year. I just do. The better reputation you have, the more leeway NASCAR probably gives, the worse the reputation you have, the less leeway they give you and I am ok with that. Some people deserve the benefit of the doubt and some people have proved that you can't give them the benefit of the doubt. In my opinion, that is kind of how NASCAR rules. I honestly don't feel in my heart, I honestly don't feel, lets be honest, the conversation is about Earnhardt, Jr., is Earnhardt, Jr. getting favoritism. That is what you are asking. If I believed that, I couldn't come here and do this at the level that it takes to do this. If I believed I wasn't going to get a fair shake, this is too hard, to come here believing you aren't getting a fair shake. We all joke about it and we all tease about, but when it really gets down to it, I have no inkling that the No. 8 car gets special treatment. I really don't. I don't think NASCAR can afford that. I think that if you look at where we are today, if you look at the exposure we have today, if you look at the amount of people, the bigger sports gets, the more people want to tell the bad side of the sport. For whatever reason, I don't know why, that is just how it is. We can't afford it, NASCAR can't afford, our sport can't afford it, our sponsors can't afford it, to have fans believe there is favoritism. Now, if you looking for favoritism, you will find it. If you are looking for the No. 8 car to get a break, then anytime somet hing happens that he gets a break, well, hell, there is your evidence, he got the break, they gave it to him. But when people are doing that, they fail to look at all the things that didn't work out for him. NASCAR is in a tough spot and in defense of Junior, in some ways I think that hurts them, because in some way, I think that NASCAR has to put the shield up and say 'we can't show favoritism and sometimes, that actually hurts you. When you are having success, they look at you way harder than they do when you aren't. The inspection line is a very difficult thing to get through, but the better you do, the more they assume that you are getting something by them and I like that, I think that is the way it should be. I don't believe there is favoritism, I believe their best in the situation that they have. I don't believe they do everything right, nor does anybody. Our sport is different in so many ways from other sports. Instant replay, things like that, there are things we can't do that other sports can and what I have seen happen, is have created, that is NASCAR, much more of a situation, where you are in bounds or out of bounds. I think that is a good thing. The more we be in bounds or out of bounds, if you are out of bounds by two inches or by four feet, you are still out of bounds, the better I think we are. I think we are closer to the day than we have ever been. It is just too competitive for them not to be that way. If I honestly believed that Junior was going to get a break, or Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon, that I wasn't going to get, I couldn't bring it on Sundays, couldn't do it because hell, I would be beaten before the race even started. I just don't feel that."
ON KEEPING TEAM UNITY WHEN SOMETHING DOES GOES GO WRONG: "In this sport, there are a lot of finger pointers. There are a lot of people that give on people really quickly. In all honesty, if you have a driver or a crew member or a tire changer that continually makes a lot of mistakes, at some point, you have to do something about that. In this sport, it is really important to always assume good intentions. You don't assume that the guy that made a mistake was trying to not do the right thing or he can't do the right thing, he just made a mistake, if you can't do that, you are destined to be a sleepless person. There are so many things that happen done in this sport, things just happen; stuff doesn't go right so assuming good intentions, is number one. Number two, when you or someone on your team makes a mistake, if you feel like everybody is trying to learn from and people care about it, then it is easy to go to the next thing. It is when somebody says well that is just bad luck or that guy over there did this and that is why I made the mistake, that is when it gets frustrating to me. Our team is full of good people, well rounded, solid people. We aren't training people here, if they make a mistake, I am not happy about it, they are even more unhappy with it. After the race on Sunday, everybody on our team said hey man, don't worry about it, don't worry about it, don't worry about it, but I was worrying about it, because I think the best teams, the person that made the mistake, it makes him sicker than it does everybody else. You have to be willing to learn from it, and move on. You can't keep it in your head, you just have to move on."
ON DENNY HAMLIN SUCCESS THIS YEAR AS A ROOKIE: "It is a significant thing, it is a big thing. To be third in points this time of year is a hell of an accomplishment. They haven't been, knock on wood, they may be from here on out, the fastest car in the Chase, but they have been very competitive and they have made few mistakes. Denny has driven like a much more mature driver than his experience would indicate that he should. Just like Carl Edwards last year. If you look at Carl's year last year and Denny's year this year, they look a lot a like. Both are with really good teams and both are exceptional drivers and do a really good job for 500 miles. That is the key; they can do it for 500 miles. A lot of young guys can do it for 200 or 300 but it is hard to do it for 500. Denny has done a nice job of not having 300-mile races. He's been able to do it for the whole amount and that is very significant. He and that team deserve a tremendous amount of praise. People talk about us and how much we have turned our program around, but think about that No. 11 team. How much they have turned that around. It is radically different than it was 12 months ago. I mean, just 12 months ago that was the talk of the garage, that FedEx was leaving and think about what the talk was compared to what it is today. Denny deserves a lot of credit as everybody does over there at Joe Gibbs Racing."
-credit: gm racing