Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 Roundup Taurus, will be one of two Fords in the NASCAR NEXTEL Open Saturday night, joining Ricky Rudd in the No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus. Burton spoke about how this event differs from all-star events in the...
Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 99 Roundup Taurus, will be one of two Fords in the NASCAR NEXTEL Open Saturday night, joining Ricky Rudd in the No. 21 Motorcraft Taurus. Burton spoke about how this event differs from all-star events in the other major professional sports.
JEFF BURTON - No. 99 Roundup Taurus
HOW DOES THIS COMPARE TO OTHER ALL-STAR EVENTS?
"I don't think you can compare it. I've watched the all-star hockey game and the basketball and football events, and in a lot of those the best players don't even go. They don't even want to be there. In this deal, there is a million bucks to win and it's all offense. It's time to go get a million bucks, and that's a big difference than an all-star event where they invite you to come because you deserve to be there, but there's really no great incentive to be there other than it being an honor. When they throw a million bucks out there and say, 'go win this,' boy, that ratchets things up a little bit. You see more intensity at an all-star event here than you do at a regular season event because at a regular season event we have to kind of protect our points a little bit. This race only means money. That's all it means is making money. You put a million bucks out there and it gets very aggressive and very offensive because that's the nature of the beast. You've got to be aggressive if you're gonna win these races, especially a 10-lap shootout. Man, you've got to go. It's so much more exciting than watching an all-star event in another sport because the intensity is ratcheted up so much more."
DOES THAT MILLION BUCKS MAKE YOU TAKE CHANCES YOU NORMALLY WOULDN'T TAKE?
"Of course it does. That's the idea. The idea of an all-star event is to take the best players/athletes, whatever they happen to be, and put them together in a format that lets the best of the best come out and shine. This adds another level to it and says, 'Look, if you come out and shine and if you do some extraordinary things, you're gonna be rewarded by a million bucks.' If that doesn't change your philosophy on how to race in an all-star event, then what in the world will?"
HOW MUCH DOES IT CONCERN YOU WITH GUYS TAKING CHANCES THAT THERE COULD BE A BIG WRECK?
"There's always that chance and that is something where you have to weigh the options. People don't go out here to intentionally wreck. It doesn't feel good when you wreck, but people do get more aggressive because there's less to lose other than injury. It is an aggressive race. It's a race that we have seen big wrecks and that is an issue, but here's the catch. You can't cause a wreck just because it's a million bucks. There are repercussions for causing the wreck because when you wreck a competitor, he doesn't care if it's in an all-star event or a regular event, you still wrecked him. That means in the upcoming race or the upcoming few months, you've got to watch your back because you still wrecked him and you took away a chance to win a million bucks. That's the deterrent for causing wrecks because if you wreck somebody, you know it might be coming back to you."
CAN YOU LEARN ANYTHING FROM THE ALL-STAR RACE TO HELP IN THE 600?
"Yeah, you really can. We have always brought our 600 car to this all-star event because we are here for two days. We use this as a test. We use this as an experimental platform and there are a lot of things we can learn to apply to the 600. A fast race car is a fast race car no matter what and to win a 600-mile race or a 100-mile race, you still have to have a fast race car. To win a 100-mile race, you don't have to worry about reliability. To win a 600-miler, you do, but the things that make us go fast tend to not be reliability issues anyway."