JEFF BURTON -9- Gain Ford Taurus (Finished 2nd) DESCRIBE THE LAST TWO LAPS. "Every time we would get to a car we would get really tight and the same was when I got to Kevin. We just couldn't do anything with him because every time I would...
JEFF BURTON -9- Gain Ford Taurus (Finished 2nd)
DESCRIBE THE LAST TWO LAPS.
"Every time we would get to a car we would get really tight and the same was when I got to Kevin. We just couldn't do anything with him because every time I would get to him I would lose the front of my car and it wouldn't stick the way I needed it to, so I never could punch the bottom of my car low enough on the race track and be able to keep it low enough. He did a great job, he held his line, he never made a mistake. He would have had to make a mistake for me to beat him and he never did, so kudos to him. He did a nice job."
NONE OF THE LEADERS CAME INTO THE PITS AT THE END. WAS THERE ANY TALK ABOUT COMING IN?
"We talked about pitting. We couldn't pit, not in the position we were in. If he would have pitted, we would have stayed out, and I guess we were going to stay out regardless. We did talk a lot about pitting, but I think my crew chief wanted to pit to begin with but I wasn't going to, I was going to stay out and take my chances."
DID EVERYTHING GO ACCORDING TO YOUR PLAN?
"It really did. We took our time, it was a very methodical day. We never took any chances. We got really hot early in the race so we just backed up and took care of the engine and didn't let it get too hot. That was the smartest thing we did all day. Had we tired to run in the front when the car was capable, all we would have done is overheat it, so we ran 16th and got away from the pack and let air get to the deal. We pitted, pulled some tape off and cleaned the grille, and then we were able to run and not have to worry about water temperature, but sometimes you have to be smart rather than aggressive and we did that. We ran a good race today, we did a lot of good things. We had good pit stops, good race strategy, we didn't burn the engine up when we had the chance to, and many people would have, so I'm proud of what we did today. We didn't get the win, we certainly would have liked to get the win, but at the end of the day we put ourselves in a position to win. Really, that's what we are here to do put ourselves in a position to win. If we can do that, we'll always be happy."
WILL THIS RACE HELP YOU TOMORROW?
"I hope so. We need some things to turn around for us on the Cup side. It feels really good to run in the front, contend for the win. The Busch Series is very difficult to win in. We were able to have a chance to win. I thought we had the best car today. Had positions been reversed and I would have been in front of him, I think I could have driven away. There's no disrespect intended, but they were in the front and they won the race. We were a little bit quicker, but we couldn't take advantage of clean air liked we needed to. That's just the way it worked out."
DID YOU HAVE NEW TIRES AT THE END?
"If you're referring to having tires in the pits to put on the car, yes we did. The rule is, you get three sets under caution. One of the times was under green, so we did have some tires to put on the car. If it's in reference to whether we had tires left on the car, then yes, the tires were great. This is the best tire that we have had here. They ran a long time and they never lost speed, so in either question, the answer would be yes."
YOU USE A DEVICE OTHER THAN THE HANS. PLEASE EXPLAIN IT.
"Well, the Hutcherson Device straps around your chest and then around your waist and it hooks to your crotch strap in your seatbelt system. Then it runs up the back and hooks into your helmet in two places, very similar to the HANS. The reason I like it is because in a rearward impact there is absolutely zero problem with the device causing some sort of issue that we don't know about. There's been no testing done in a Winston Cup car other than in a practical way of a guy backing in at a high rate of speed with the HANS Device. When I looks at the HANS Device with the parameters that we have to work in, the HANS Device is crammed into the car, crammed up against the driver's head and crammed up against the seat. I don't believe that's the way it was intended to be used. It needs some space to move. I don't like to not know what's going to happen. I don't like to be the test dummy, although I feel like I've been a test dummy this year. The Hutcherson Device is a little less effective in a straight-on impact than a HANS Device. At a 30-degree angle, it's every bit as effective when worn properly. You have to wear it a little tighter than the HANS Device because the HANS rotates on your shoulders, as you move it will tighten up. The Hutcherson Device needs to be tight or it will never be tight, so that's the negative to it. You can move with it, there's absolutely zero modifications that you need to do to your car, you can get in and out of the car, I know a lot of people have seen drivers get out of their cars lately with the HANS Device, the fact of the matter is, I can't get out of my car with my seat in the system that I have. I like to be able to get out of my car when it's on fire and that was the best alternative to the HANS Device. It's a perfect example of why I don't believe NASCAR needs to step in and make a HANS Device mandatory. If we do that, we lose the opportunity for competition to make better products. And the best thing we've got going for us is we have a tremendous amount of attention on safety right now, we have a lot of companies and individuals thinking about it and doing a lot of research and testing for us, and I think that's a wonderful thing to take advantage of. That's how the Hutcherson Device came along. There have been a lot of devices that I have looked at lately, that show promise, and that's an example of how there's more than one way to skin a cat. That's the best way I can put it. Those are the reasons that I like it, and those are the reasons that I wear it."
DID YOU LOOK INTO THE HANS PRIOR TO THE SEASON?
"I looked at the HANS prior to the season, not in any great, of course this winter I did, everybody did. Prior to that I looked at a HANS and never purchased one. The Hutcherson Device, I didn't know anything about it. It was shown to me and the minute I saw it, I liked it. I didn't mess with it at all this winter, as a matter of fact, the first time I ran it we were testing at Bristol and I wanted to test it before I raced it because you never know what you're going to get in to if you put it in for a race. I put it on and had it a little too tight, so my head couldn't move at all. I came in, loosened it up and I've worn it ever since. Now today, I didn't have it adjusted properly, and that's the negative to it, you can't get in the car and not have it in the same place every time. You've got to take time and care to make sure it's in the same place. Today I got in the car a little later, time got away from me because I was in Cup practice and I hastily got in the car and didn't take the time to get it exactly right, so that's one negative to it. The HANS, once it's on, it doesn't move. If it's there one time, it's there another time. This device can move around a little bit, and I don't like that and we have to figure out how to fix that."
IS THIS A DEVICE STILL UNDER DEVELOPMENT?
"Oh yeah. We're definitely figuring better ways to make it work. I've booked a couple of days of sled testing with Autoliv, whose the largest belt and air bag manufacturer, and they have outstanding test facilities. I've booked two days with them to do some testing of my own. I'm always suspect to manufacturers giving you results of what it is that they're creating. They have an interest. The Hutcherson Device really isn't for sale. There are independent companies out there that are supporting it and I respect that. I'm going to do some testing of my own in about three weeks. I have some sled tests scheduled. I like it. I think it's the right thing to do. I don't think it's always as effective as the HANS, but it's certainly a whole lot better than having nothing. When this year gets done, I probably will have spent $100,000 on testing stuff out of money that my kids could be going to Disney World on, I guess. One of the things that we as Winston Cup drivers that have success, we need to give back to the sport. My wife is committed and I have committed to not only do it for my safety, but for other people's safety as well. We have no monetary gain by making a product better, the only reason we would make a product better is for physical gain. And if Winston Cup drivers will spend some time and money to make products better, then we can make them available to everybody across the racing world and that's one of the responsibilities that we need to take on. When we leave here it needs to be better than when we got here."
FROM A CHAMPIONSHIP VIEW, IS THIS SEASON ALMOST A FAILURE?
"I think that after another bad week last week, I'm not much of a quitter, but after last week, I have to be realistic and understand that if we win the Winston Cup championship there's going to be some wild stuff going on. This is one of those years that it could happen. I haven't seem any continuity in the racing, I've seen nobody hit it and be good every week. Our chances are dwindling rapidly, it hurt me to say that, but what we need to do is get our crap together. We need to get where we can run well and do what we did today. We need to be able to do that on the Cup side, and until we can do that, we don't even need to worry about the championship. We could be 10th in the points right now, and running 10th and 15th, and I'd feel the same way I feel. If we can't win the championship because we can't run well enough, we don't deserve to win the championship, and it's OK not to deserve to championship as long as you understand and go fix why you didn't win the championship. That's where we are right now. We had a wreck at Daytona caused by the rules that are there, we had two wrecks caused by a driver that had his head up his ass, we had an engine problem at Atlanta, we had a tire roll across pit road at Darlington and we had a tire fail at Bristol. End of story. We haven't run poorly at any of those races, we've run well enough to be in the top five in points, but that's a great big if."
TALK ABOUT THE LAST COUPLE LAPS.
"There were a couple of things going on there. I saw Jay coming on the last run. On that last run, it was a long, green-flag run, I believe he was catching us. I saw in the mirror that he was catching us, so I was a little concerned about losing second and not having a chance to win because I thought he could have been quicker than us. Once we did get settled down, my car drove better and I was able to get away a little bit and then I ran Kevin down. The minute I got to him nothing good happened for me. These cars are so air sensitive. When you lose the front end, you just can't go anywhere. We saw it at Bristol last week, it was so hard to pass. It makes for interesting racing, but it doesn't make for passing. It's just very difficult to pass, more difficult to pass than I wish it was, but that's the way it is. We had run Kevin down, we were running faster times than him, but when we got to him, we died. I saw a lot of that today. People couldn't pass because of losing air."