NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
STP GAS BOOSTER 500
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
APRIL 5, 2013
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CHILDRESS INSTITUTE FOR PEDIATRIC TRAUMA CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed racing at Martinsville, blocking and other topics. Full Transcript:
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU TO COME BACK TO RACE AT A PLACE LIKE MARTINSVILLE? I’M SURE IT HAS SOME FOND MEMORIES FOR YOU:
“I think this is one of the hardest race tracks we go to all year long. It’s a place that a lot of drivers hate. It’s a place a lot of drivers really like. You have to embrace it for what it is, for how hard it is. For me coming back here I remember when they made the announcement that they were going to run a late model stock car race here. I couldn’t believe that I would have a chance to race at this race track. To go from running late models here to winning my first Nationwide race here and winning a Cup race here this is certainly for me a pretty special place. It’s a difficult place too. I’ve had a lot of heartaches here too there are races that I look back on and really feel like we had a chance to win and stuff would happen. I think we need more short tracks on the circuit. I think coming here twice a year is good for our series because it is good racing, it’s competitive racing, it’s action and I think that is what our sport is all about. Coming to a short track to me this time of year is a really good thing for us to be doing.”
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO RUN A FAST QUALIFYING LAP AT CHARLOTTE? IN THE RACE WHAT CAN YOU DO FROM INSIDE THE RACE CAR IF ANYTHING TO ADJUST TO THE CHANGING TRACK CONDITIONS?
“Well, as far as qualifying at Charlotte it’s just aggression. You just have to be real aggressive. You’ve got to have a car that you can lean on and know that you just have to trust it. You’ve got to be in the gas a lot. It’s one of those laps you just kind of hold your breath and just get it around the race track. As far as making adjustments I’ve won the (Coca-Cola) 600 a couple of times and I will tell you that I feel like you’ve got to have a good car period. We have won that thing by running well in the day and running well at night. We won it once when our car wasn’t very good during the day as it cooled down we got better and better. It wasn’t so much that we got better, but other people got worse. You’ve got to go into the race understanding there is a grip level change coming, the pace is going to pick up. When the pace picks up now the car travels more. A lot of things happen and you need to understand that. But, as competitive as it is today, I don’t think you can give up a whole lot at the start of the race. You still have to be able to go. From a driver’s standpoint it’s more about what you do in practice. Understanding how the track is going to change. Once the race starts, honestly there is a lot a driver can do, but there’s only so much he can do at the same time. You can’t find your way around three tenths. You’ve got to be close anyway, and then from there the driver can make adjustments.”
WHAT IS IT LIKE TO WATCH JEB (BURTON) RACE HERE?
“It’s fun. I haven’t seen Jeb race a lot because obviously I race almost every weekend. So, I never really got a chance to watch Jeb race until last year. Honestly, sitting here in the grandstands off turn four was the first race I ever saw Jeb run from start to finish. It’s fun to see him race. He really wants it. He’s very committed to it and wants to find a way to make a living doing it. I think he’s talented and gifted too. It’s going to be neat to watch him this year. He’s got a good team to work with. It’s a big step for him to go from what he was doing to what he’s doing now. It’s fun to watch. It’s cool to see that enthusiasm. From a guy that’s been doing a touring series for probably 25 years, to see a guy doing it his first year, to see that enthusiasm and excitement, it’s pretty cool.”
AS ONE OF THE VETERAN SPOKESPERSONS OF THIS SPORT, WHY DO YOU THINK OTHER VETERAN DRIVERS SEEM TO HAVE AN ISSUE DRIVING WITH AND AGAINST JOEY LOGANO? “Well, that’s an easy question. I don’t that there is a lot of drivers that have issues racing with Joey Logano, there are a few. I think it would be an over characterization saying that a lot of the older drivers have issues with Joey, because I don’t think that is fair to Joey. I do think that Joey has been in a position where people have been pushing him, have their foot on his back pushing him into being a tough guy. Stand up for yourself. They even say it on T.V.; he needs to stand up for himself. I think that has put Joey in an uncomfortable position for him. I think he just needs to not worry about all that and just race and be himself. Then when a couple of issues happen, it’s easy to say he did this so that’s how he is going to be. But, some of it is piling on in my opinion. At the same time, when he does get confronted with issues I don’t think he handles it very well. He doesn’t just step back and say you know what, okay let me listen to what you’re saying. I may disagree with you but let me listen. He tends to resist, as if I’m right, I’m right, I’m right. I know I had an issue with him a few years ago and I encouraged him to go look at the tape. I had already looked at it so I knew what it showed. I didn’t tell him that. The next week I asked him if he had looked at it and he said no, I don’t need to. That kind of attitude is not welcomed. At the same time, I think Joey is a good person. I think he is a good race car driver. I think he is a young person that is growing up in front of everybody. He’s had a lot of pressure put on him. He’s gone to a team where they didn’t have as much success as his teammates did at Gibbs. That puts a lot of pressure on you. Trust me, I know that. He’s growing up in front of all of us. Like I’ve said many times, I think the way I came up was easier because I was running for teams that weren’t supposed to win. I was told finish 20th and try to win rookie of the year award and we’re all good. That’s a lot easier than this is a really good team with a championship crew chief and lets go win this race. That’s a different deal. So, I think a lot of it is he’s grown up in front of us. We all make mistakes as we grow up. All in all, Joey is not a bad guy. He can be a little more receptive to listening rather than arguing. Joey is not a dirty driver. He’s not. Some of it is piling on and some of it he brings on himself. By any means, I have no problem driving into turn three at Daytona side by side, or turn two with him here. I’d race with him anywhere, any time. I’m not uncomfortable racing with him at all.”
CAN YOU GIVE US YOUR VIEWS ON BLOCKING AND WHETHER YOU FEEL IT’S ACCEPTABLE? ALSO, DO THINGS CHANGE FOR A DRIVER WHEN THEY FIND THEMSELVES RUNNING UP FRONT MORE OFTEN THAN THEY HAD BEEN IN THE PAST?
“Listen, I think that is a valid point. I remember Rusty Wallace in Michigan in practice was madder than hell at me because I had passed him and he didn’t think I had given him enough room. I think really it was because it was the first time he had seen me. I mean, he was used to me not running and now here I passed him. I think there is some of that. When you race a guy and he’s been kind of easy to beat and now he’s not, you expect to be able to beat him. There’s a transition. I think that’s a valid point.
“We don’t have a rule against blocking. Drivers have the right to make their own rules. Every driver feels differently about blocking. Obviously Tony (Stewart) has been very clear about his opinion on blocking. As crystal clear as anyone can be. There comes a time and a place on some of these restarts at some of these places where sometimes you don’t
have a choice. If you just say okay I’m just going to hold my line, you are going to get passed like at Daytona and Talladega. There are times in a race where if you don’t you will get yourself in trouble. Some drivers have more tolerance for it than others. So, it’s hard to say what’s right and what’s wrong. It’s really hard to say. I got blocked late in the race last week and literally I was on the apron on the back straightaway. I was pissed because it’s okay to try to slow you down, but to block that far I thought that was excessive. On the other hand, had I been him I might not have thought it was excessive. You’ve got to do what you think is best. I think at the end of the day you have to remember what you do to somebody, you have to expect it’s going to be done back to you. If you feel like what you are doing is okay and it would be okay if it was being done to you then you do it. But, don’t complain when it happens the other way. So really, there are no rules so it’s up to the drivers to police it. It just boils down to what your values are and what you feel is right. The problem we have in our sport is we have a lot of drivers that will complain when it happens to them, but when they do it to you they look at you like what’s wrong. Because this is a self-serving sport and we tend to become selfish people in these race cars. You’ve got to be open-minded and understand what’s good for you has to be good for the next guy.”
YOUR FIRST NATIONWIDE RACE HERE IN THE LATE 80’S, DID YOU THINK YOU WOULD STILL BE RACING HERE IN 2013 AND HOW HAVE YOU CHANGED OVER THOSE YEARS?
“My goal was to become a Nationwide driver. I know people don’t believe this, but even when I started Cup racing, the only reason I started Cup racing was because that was my opportunity. I wanted to be Jack Ingram. I wanted to be Sonny Hutchens. That’s the people I wanted to be. I watched Cale Yarborough and he was the guy I pulled for, but I wanted to be a Nationwide driver. So, when I got a chance to run Nationwide I was the man. So, I never thought about being here for this long. Never thought about it. That first race here was something I will never forget. We qualified really well. We blew an engine in practice. We did not have a spare engine and we were in trouble. We got bailed out after people lent us an engine. We were able to run and then we blew that one up in the race. I remember it very well. It was Jeff Hensley and his dad. His dad took us over to his shop. We had to change motor mounts in the car and had to change everything. They lent us an engine and didn’t even know us. I’ll never forget that.”
TALK ABOUT THE IMPROVEMENT YOU’VE SEEN AT RCR (RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING) WITH YOUR TEAM AND THE ORGANIZATION AS A WHOLE AS YOU’VE TRANSFERRED TO THE NEW CAR. “It hasn’t shown up on paper yet. It hasn’t shown up in results but I feel strongly that we’ve made steps in the right direction. I feel strongly that we are doing the things we need to do to get back where we need to be. We had a really good car at Phoenix and didn’t get as good as a run as we deserved. We had a really, really good car at Bristol and didn’t get what we deserved. We had a good car at Daytona and didn’t get what we deserved. So those three races were our best races and we didn’t get what we deserved and we’re 24th in points. Last week we had times in the race where we were good. We drove up to right at the top 10 and then we had times in the race we weren’t. We are making strides on it. We’re not where we need to be but we are definitely headed in the right direction.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON WAS IN HERE EARLIER AND HE SAID THE EASIEST WAY TO SOLVE CONTROVERSY OR RIVALRY IS TO JUST GO FIND THE GUY AND DEAL WITH IT. HE SAID HE LEARNED THAT FROM YOU HERE. DO YOU SHARE THAT VIEW THAT WHEN YOU HAVE A DIFFERENCE YOU SHOULD JUST GO FIX IT IMMEDIATELY? “I hope I don’t do it a lot because I wrecked him and had to go apologize. He’s right. I did walk through his team and I was walking in there I was like I’m too small for this. At the end of the day, when you screw up, if you’re not going to man up and admit I screwed up then you’re never going to improve as a person, a race car driver, as anything you do. We learn by messing up. People that are hard headed and the people that are difficult to deal with are the people that won’t look in the mirror and say I messed up, because they never do anything wrong. You can’t talk to somebody like that. There are times when relationships become so strained that you can’t have a logical conversation. At that point, it may be best not to have the conversation. What I said about Joey a little while ago, I feel like somebody has their foot in his back pushing him to be a tough guy, I think that showed up at the end of the race when he made the comment that he made. I think that spurred a lot of this on. You can’t blame Denny from being upset. I’ve crushed my vertebrae years ago and it hurts. He’s not here. He’s not able to race. There’s some strained relationships there without a doubt. You need to reach out and try to make it happen. If you can’t have a logical conversation, then its best to pull back. We live together. We’ve got to race together. We’ve got to somewhat get along. Even if you don’t like the guy you still have to have some sort of professional respect for the guy. They’ll find a way through it but it’s probably going to take a little time. I’m sure Denny, in the position he’s in, is bitter about it. I think Joey has his feet dug in the sand too. I do think over time it will get better. But when you screw up, you’ve just got to address it. You just do.”
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES