NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
AUGUST 2, 2013
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 FXI GUTTERCLEAR 365 CHEVROLET SS, met with members of the media at Pocono Raceway and discussed running at Pocono, similarities between Indianapolis and Pocono, what it means to be in the Chase verses not being in the Chase and much more. Full transcript.
TALK A LITTLE BIT ABOUT RUNNING HERE AT POCONO:
“I think coming off of last week in Indy and everything that was learned there it will be interesting to see who ran well at Indy and also who can run well here. The tracks aren’t the same by any means, but they are a lot closer since Pocono was paved. We came here and tested in the spring and thought that really helped our program. We came here and ran okay. We had a good car, but didn’t finish as well as we needed to or wanted to. It’s going to be interesting. I think the biggest thing about this weekend is the people that ran well at Indy can they take the same stuff and run well here. I think everybody’s going to try. It will be interesting to see. We had a better car on Saturday than we had on Sunday. It seemed like everybody was affected by traffic for sure. I think our set up was affected a little more than most people’s. We didn’t run quite as well on Sunday as we did Saturday last week, so we made some adjustments and hopefully we learned something from Indy that we can apply here.”
WE’VE SEEN A LOT OF TRAFFIC SORT OF IN AND OUT OF THE TOP 10 IN POINTS OVER THE LAST FOUR TO SIX WEEKS; DO YOU SEE THAT CONTINUING OVER THESE NEXT SIX WEEKS?
“I see it continuing. I think there is a lot of inconsistency this year. You look at the teams that are from 10th to 20th, there’s just a great deal of inconsistency in there. None of those teams have shown the ability to maintain momentum. None of those teams have shown the ability from a speed standpoint or a reliability standpoint to get on a roll. Someone will, but I don’t know who that is. Honestly going into Indy I felt like there had been so many things that had gone wrong for us and we had been running so much better that I really felt like we were on the verge to getting on a roll then we had that issue last week. I think all those teams can make that comment. It just seems nobody can get in a rhythm. Someone will, but I expect to see a lot of inconsistencies. Now we’ve got Ryan (Newman) winning last week. That puts more pressure on more teams. That more pressure forces people to do things that otherwise they wouldn’t do and mistakes pop up. So, I think the next six weeks is going to be really interesting. I think it’s going to be a dog fight.”
HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE NO. 48 TEAM’S PERFORMANCE THIS YEAR, AND HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE COMPARISON BETWEEN THEIR PERFORMANCE AND THE REST OF THE FIELD?
“I think Matt (Kenseth) and his team have in some ways matched it, and in some ways maybe even out performed them. If you look at the mechanical issues the No. 20 team has had and you take those out and you match the reliability of the No. 48, maybe they look the best. Those two teams to me have stood out as being the two best, the two teams that have been able to make the most speed, the two teams that have been able to execute when the opportunity was there. It’s hard to talk about the No. 48 and Jimmie (Johnson) and what they do because what they’ve been doing is what is expected of them. They’ve set the bar so high that when they do phenomenal things it’s oh well its Jimmie. It’s not that big of a deal. It is a big deal, but it’s not perceived as a big deal. So, it’s really hard to put your finger on them because they have such a lofty expectation level. It’s like a football team that wins 14 regular season games. Nobody talks about it because it’s expected and that’s kind of how they are. What they have been doing is phenomenal but it’s almost expected of them.”
CAN YOU DESCRIBE THE IMPACT OF MAKING THE CHASE VERSES NOT MAKING THE CHASE FOR TEAMS LIKE YOURS?
“It’s big. When you go into that 10-race shootout and you have a chance to win the championship, there’s a completely different feeling and a completely different environment that revolves around a team. Now you may be going into it without really looking at it by any means being the favorite, you might be going into it being the favorite, but you all go into it knowing you have a shot. Those weeks leading up to the Chase, whether you’re fighting to get into it or you already know you’re in it, that’s what it’s all about. When you don’t have it, it’s extremely disappointing and extremely discouraging to everybody involved. These team members, not only the ones on the road but the ones at home; they put their heart and soul into this thing. When you have a goal of making the Chase, and all your efforts are about making the Chase and you’re not going to, what’s your goal? If you have to diminish and lessen your goals, that’s not what any sporting team or business or anything else wants to do. So, it’s a demoralizing event. When that time comes where you are like we can’t make it, it’s just demoralizing. It is. Don’t get me wrong, you’ve still got to keep digging. But it’s a whole lot harder to bring the same effort that a team that’s in the Chase is bringing. It’s harder to bring that effort. You try and you put your effort into it. You get up in the morning thinking about it and you’re wanting to go and prove yourself, your team is wanting to prove themselves and you want to do it together, but it’s not the same as being in the Chase.”
WE’VE HEARD FOR YEARS WHERE DRIVERS WILL SAY, FROM WHERE I WAS SITTING THAT WAS AN EXCITING RACE BUT THE FANS WATCHING ON T.V. ARE SAYING ONE LEAD CHANGE UNDER GREEN ALL DAY, IS THERE ANY WAY YOU AS A DRIVER CAN APPRECIATE WHAT THE FANS ARE THINKING? AND IS THERE ANY WAY THE FANS CAN APPRECIATE WHAT YOU’RE THINKING WHEN THE RACE SEEMS TO BE SO DIFFERENT FROM THOSE TWO PERSPECTIVES?
“Not completely. Some drivers aren’t race fans. They race because it’s about them which is fine, there’s nothing wrong with that. We have other drivers that are big race fans. If a driver is a race fan, I think he can understand what the race fans are thinking and what they are saying but not in the extent that you pay however much money as you pay to sit in your seat and you watch a raced that wasn’t satisfying to you. The driver, no matter what the quality of the race is for the fan, his effort and his dedication it might be racing for 15th but he’s doing is best all day to find a way to go to 14th. I go up in the tower a few times a year, go up on the spotters stand or whatever and watch a race, man it’s a different perspective. It looks like everybody is just riding around. I’ll be honest, I’ve driven these things for a long time, there’s times I’m up there thinking man just drive it in the corner, but it’s just not that easy. It’s hard for both sides to see the other side, but I think drivers understand the fans want to see exciting racing. I think the fans know that the drivers want to be involved in exciting racing. It’s way more fun to run side by side and be in the middle of a real tight battle than it is to be nose to tail trying to find your way around one guy. It just is, so we want to be part of that too.”
THIS IS KIND OF A UNIQUE TRACK STARTING WITH THE CONFIGURATION, BUT OVER THE YEARS WE’VE SEEN SOME ODD THING HAPPEN LIKE A FAN WALKING ACROSS THE TRACK, KASEY KAHNE’S CAR GETTING INTO THE TREES OVER AT THE TUNNEL TURN, WHAT’S THE STRANGEST THING THAT HAS EVER HAPPENED TO YOU AT THIS TRACK?
“The fact that they paint a lot of rocks here I think is pretty strange. That must be a Mattioli thing. I thought you were describing Saturday night racing at South Boston there for a little while, people throwing coolers and wildlife running across the track. I can’t say that I’ve had anything all that strange happen h
ere, but when you’re at a 2.5-mile race track and you have three distinct corners, this is a recipe for strange things to happen. It’s in a really interesting part of the country and there is so much wildlife here. It’s a very rural area. All that opens a door for opportunity for things you won’t see necessarily at Indianapolis for example. It’s a unique facility. There’s a lot of history here. When you come in here you can’t think but of Doc (Joe Mattioli) and everything they did to make this race track. I think the boys deserve a lot of credit, the newer generation for really trying to make this track a premier race track. Not only the big track, but the road course too. This new road course that they’ve put in is just a phenomenal facility. I think they deserve a lot of credit trying to step up the quality of the track, the quality of the experience for the fans and the competitors. They have taken a big gamble. Doc was very, very conservative in spending the money as related to continuing to update it. They have taken a different approach. It’s a bit of a gamble for them. They deserve a lot of credit. They’ve made some major expenditures in an effort to try to improve racing for people in this area. Not just stock car racing, but other kinds of racing as well. They need to be commended for that.”
DO YOU THINK THAT THIS SPORT NEEDS SOME YOUNG DRIVERS TO CHALLENGE SOME OF THE VETERANS TO BRING IN THE YOUNGER FAN BASE?
“I think we’ve seen a shortage of young drivers coming in over the years because of the lack of sponsorship. I think that part of the cycle of this sport is young drivers. Part of the cycle of this sport is veterans verses new guys. I think that’s exciting. As a 46-year-old driver I understand there’s a lot of young guys that want my seat. By the way, when I was 26 I wanted their seat. That’s how it works and that’s part of it. I think it’s good for the sport to see a mixture of veterans, a mixture of young guys, and a mixture of guys that are kind of on the brink of being one or the other. So, yeah I do. I think we’ve had a shortage, we haven’t seen a lot of rollover. Because of what has gone on in Nationwide, Trucks and other series no driver has ever really stood out because not a lot of drivers are getting the chance that I got or some other guys got. Sponsorship is dried up; a lot of things have happened that’s made it harder for younger guys to break into the Cup level. Yes, I do think it’s good for the sport. It’s natural, it’s what happens. You know, Richard Petty doesn’t drive anymore. Harry Gant doesn’t drive anymore. Those things cycle and it’s good for our sport.”
IS THE NEW CAR WHAT YOU CAN CONTRIBUTE TO THE LACK OF CONSISTENCY YOU MENTIONED EARLIER?
“I don’t think so. Really the new car is an aerodynamic change. Parts and pieces aren’t breaking on the new car, because of the new car rather. I think it’s just competitive. This sport from first to 24th is pretty darn competitive. The 30th place car isn’t as competitive as in the sports heyday, there’s no denying that. Those top 23 or top 24 are just really good teams. When you have a bad day it stands out. It really stands out. Good teams can run 18th. That’s what I think has created the inconsistency. It’s just so hard to be good everywhere. Our teams are getting smarter and smarter. It used to be that we would come to Charlotte, Atlanta, Chicago or whatever race tracks and we would run the same set up. Maybe the sway bar is a little different, maybe a little less right rear spring, maybe the track bar a little lower, but it was pretty much a basic set up. Today, every race track has its own unique deal because of engineers and all the science and technology that has gotten into our sport allows that to happen. Somebody gets good somewhere at a particular race track; they could be good there but not be good the next week. We really see that in those teams that are from eighth to 20th. Those other teams, they seem to run well everywhere. That eighth to 20th deal, none of those teams, that includes us, have found a way to be good at almost any kind of race track.”
REGARDING THE INDIANAPOLIS/POCONO CONNECTION, WHAT EXACTLY TRANSLATES AND IS IT STILL AS TRANSLATABLE WITH THIS CAR?
“It’s more translatable since they’ve paved this track. I never understood how Indy had anything to do with Pocono when this track was a rough as it was and this track had zero grip compared to Indy. Now that this track was paved, there are some similarities in the sense that you have long straightaways. It’s all about aerodynamics, that’s what it boils down to. How you can get your car to sit down the straightaways verses the way it sits in the corners. Because you have long straightaways at both race tracks and both race tracks are smooth, both race tracks have limited banking, that opens the door to similar philosophies from one race track to the next. That’s really what it boils down to, banking, smoothness, grip level; those kinds of things are what make the track. So you can use a basic philosophy from one race track to the next.”
SO THE NEW CAR DOESN’T MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
“I don’t think so. That’s my opinion. I don’t really see why this car would make any more difference than the old car. It’s really about the track.”
NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES