This Week in Ford Racing - Jeff Burton

This Week in Ford Racing January 28, 2003 Roush Racing visit Jeff Burton interview Roush Racing had an outstanding year in 2002 with 10 wins and three drivers among the top 10 in the final NASCAR Winston Cup point standings. The four...

This Week in Ford Racing
January 28, 2003
Roush Racing visit

Jeff Burton interview

Roush Racing had an outstanding year in 2002 with 10 wins and three drivers among the top 10 in the final NASCAR Winston Cup point standings. The four returning Roush drivers from last season - Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch, Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth - spoke about the coming year during last week's Charlotte media tour.

JEFF BURTON - No. 99 Citgo Taurus:

DID THE DIFFERENT TIRE CAUSE YOU TO LOSE SOME CONFIDENCE?

"I don't know if I lost my confidence because the tires changed, we lost confidence because we weren't running well. If you have confidence when you're running bad and you're not doing the things you need to be doing, then that's not confidence, that's arrogance. Confidence shouldn't be a blind thing that you just walk around with all the time. There needs to be a basis for it."

TWO YEARS AGO EVERYBODY WAS SAYING YOU AND FRANK STODDARD WERE THE TOP TANDEM IN THE SPORT. WHAT MADE IT GO SOUTH?

"Results. This is a result-oriented business and I look at where we were and how we were running and it just wasn't acceptable. I'm not saying that was all Frank's fault. I've never said that and I'm not saying that now, not by any means. Frank and I worked really well together. We have a lot of mutual respect for each other. Frank's effort and desire is there, but we just weren't having results. We tried and tried and tried to get to where we needed to be and we just couldn't get there, so something had to change. Either he needed to be the crew chief of the 99 with another driver or I needed to be the driver with another crew chief and that's where we headed. I don't think Frank's a dumb person or a guy that can't get it done, I think Frank can get it done but we just needed a fresh look. As far as my confidence, you look at what we did in 2001. Even though it was sub-par, it was the best that anybody did at Roush. We did win two races and we did finish 10th in points. If you look at results and you compare that to confidence, well I was more confident than my teammates. Then if you look at 2002, I didn't seem to have a confidence problem on the same tires in the Busch car. I think that thing broke a lot of records in the number of laps that were led and the number of races it won. There's no lack of confidence in a car that drove good. The car drove well, it did what I wanted it to do and when it didn't do what I wanted it to do, we knew how to fix it. So there was no lack of confidence on the same tires going faster through the corner. A Busch car actually goes faster through the corner than a Winston Cup car and I had absolutely no problem in the Busch car. So confidence isn't an issue for me. All I deal with are facts. I don't come to the race track with my chest poked out and I don't come to the race track with my tail tucked between my legs. I come to the race track wanting to understand what we have on that particular day. You're not gonna be good every day and you shouldn't be bad every day, so, to me, it's a day-to-day occurrence. It's not a year-long occurrence of having confidence or not having confidence. If I leave Martinsville when, historically, I'm used to running in the top three or four and we run 12th, when I go back, I'm probably not gonna be quite as confident as I was the time before. If I am, then that's stupid. Confidence is based on results."

WHEN YOU HAVE A GUY LIKE KURT THAT WINS THREE OUT OF THE LAST FIVE RACES, IS THERE THE TEMPTATION TO JUST START STAMPING OUT CARS LIKE HIS?

"You have to understand why your teammates are having success and to understand that, you have to be willing to look at the overall picture. When Matt had a lot of success last year and Kurt had a lot of success last year. Mark finished second in the points, but our two most successful programs were the 97 and the 17. That's not to say anything bad about the 6, but they led the most laps and they were the fastest cars. To be successful in racing, the first rule is to go fast. That's the first rule. So you have to be willing to look at what they were doing and how they were doing it and try to apply it. If you look at the 97, if you really get into it, they didn't just hit up on one thing. The 17 didn't just hit up on one thing, it was a combination of things at different race tracks that worked different times through the year. By the way, those same things didn't work at other times in the year, so you really have to really analyze it to figure out exactly what they're doing, but, certainly, you have to be willing to look at it."

HAVE YOU TALKED TO RICK MAST ABOUT THE CARBON MONOXIDE ISSUE?

"No, I personally haven't spoken to Rick Mast about it and shame on me for not doing that. I think drivers sometimes try to ignore when someone is hurt or having problems. They try to ignore it because that makes it go away. I took part in a carbon monoxide study about five years ago. After every race they did an analysis of carbon monoxide exposure. I have an understanding of carbon monoxide. I can't tell you that we have anything that is a carbon monoxide filter, but we have learned at which race tracks it is the worst and we take extra measures as far as making sure we have enough cool and clean air into me as possible. As far as a new gadget or anything like that, no, we don't have that."

GARY NELSON MENTIONED SOMETHING ABOUT A CONVERTER THAT TURNS CARBON MONOXIDE TO CARBON DIOXIDE. ARE YOU FAMILIAR WITH THAT?

"I'm slightly familiar with it. It's in its preliminary stages. As a driver, you can't get into every issue and that's one of the issues that I have not really dove into deeply. I'm waiting for someone to bring the answer to me rather than going out to try and learn the answer."

COULD YOU OPEN THE WINDOWS TO GET MORE FRESH AIR?

"You can make the car have more fresh air, but at some race tracks the problem is the shape of the race track. At Bristol and Martinsville and Richmond - those short tracks - there's a lot of carbon monoxide that's hard to get away from, so I don't know what the right answer is. I'm pretty uneducated in it, other than I do know what tracks are the worst based on the study that I did."

Kurt Busch
Mark Martin
Matt Kenseth

-ford-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth , Kurt Busch , Rick Mast , Mark Martin