RANDALL BURNETT, CREW CHIEF, NO. 8 BETMGM CAMARO ZL1 1LE, Teleconference Transcript: CAN YOU GIVE US AN OVERVIEW OF WHAT IT’S BEEN LIKE THIS WEEK FOR YOU AND YOUR TEAM AT RICHARD CHILDRESS RACING HEADING TO THE BRISTOL DIRT RACE?“Yeah, it’s been a little different than normal. This is something new for all of us on the Cup side. It’s been a challenge. The rules are a little bit different with the cars; how we approach things. For instance, we normally run a splitter on the car that kind of keeps us off the ground a little bit and keeps us from traveling the car too much, because on the asphalt tracks, we run really close to the ground to try to make as much downforce as we can. We’re going with a little bit different approach this weekend. You are kind of going to be running the car up off the ground, so you don’t dig the nose in and tear it up. That’s been something we’ve had to work on. Just coming up with a set-up that we don’t really know much about the track. We don’t really know much about how these cars are going to react on the track. So, we’re trying to make our best guess, basically, is what it boils down to.”
YOU HAVE A DIRT BACKGROUND AND YOUR BROTHER OWNS MILLBRIDGE SPEEDWAY AND TYLER REDDICK HAS A DIRT BACKGROUND. IS THIS AN OPPORTUNITY WEEKEND? ARE YOU PUTTING MORE PRESSURE ON YOURSELVES TRYING TO GO OUT AND CAPITALIZE ON THIS WEEKEND?“I think both of us, kind of having a little bit of a dirt background; I’ve never driven on dirt myself, really, except for at my brother’s track up at Millbridge and racing go karts and stuff like that. Tyler’s got quite a bit of experience on anything from Micro Sprints to dirt Late Models and everything else. That’s kind of what he grew up racing. He’s pumped up about this weekend. We don’t want to get our hopes up too much because we don’t know what to expect, you know? This is a completely different animal for us as far as having this heavy of a car to run on dirt. So, we’re both excited about the opportunity to go up there. And hopefully we can put a good package together and unload off the truck good. I think that’s going to be very important this weekend.”
WHERE IS THIS TEAM AT NOW? IT SEEMS LIKE THE SPEED IS THERE BUT THERE HAVE MAYBE BEEN A FEW THINGS THAT HAVE GONE WRONG. DO YOU HAVE TO REIGN TYLER IN A LITTLE BIT OR ARE YOU JUST LETTING HIM BE WHO HE IS WHEN HE MAKES A MISTAKE?“We’ve shown signs of speed throughout all the races this year. We’ve just done a poor job of executing; whether it be calls on pit road or bad pit stops or driver errors or whatever. We’re all in it together and we’ve all made our fair share of mistakes this year. We’ve just got to really focus on cleaning that up. I think we saw that our RCR cars and our teammates all have good speed as well as us. We’ve just got to do a better job of executing and not trying to overcompensate for it. If you start trying too hard then you start making too many mistakes. So, we’ve just got to clean-up everything we’re doing and get back to doing the basics right.”
HOW DO YOU GO ABOUT DECIDING ALL THE THINGS THAT NASCAR IS ALLOWING THE TEAMS TO DO?  DO YOU HAVE TO PICK AND CHOOSE?“Well, I think we’ll get there, and we’ll see a wide variety of people’s approaches. None of us really know how to approach this. Some guys have been to the Eldora truck races, so we’ve got some notes from that. We’ve talked to people that have run well there; and just trying to get some ideas on things. Obviously, Bristol is probably going to be a little bit different animal than Eldora. So, there will be some things that you fight at Bristol that you didn’t see at Eldora. So, it’s basically just kind of getting back to your general knowledge of cars and getting back to kind of your roots and knowing what works for you and what doesn’t; and don’t put too much stuff on your car to get yourself in a bad place that something breaks. That’s the main thing. You’re going to have plenty of tire clearance and things like that, so you don’t put all this stuff on your car and end up cutting a tire with it. We’ve looked at things that we thought would help on our car and things that we’re allowed to do that we didn’t really need to do. It’s kind of been a mixed bag on some of that.”
SO, WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST CONCERN? ARE YOU CONCERNED ABOUT DIRT GETTING INTO AREAS AND OVERHEATING AND CERTAIN PARTS & PIECES BREAKING AND YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT TYPE OF PUNISHMENT IT’S GOING TO GET?“Well, I think a little bit of both. I think the main thing is, to finish the race, you’ve got to keep oil and water in it and that’s going to be a big deal. We don’t know how the nose is going to hold up if you do get close and hit the track; or, getting into somebody. We’ve seen the damage that happens on a normal weekend with that. We’ve tried to take some precautions for that. But I definitely think keeping the motor cool for 250 laps without packing it up full of dirt and trying to protect your radiator and your cooling system as much as you can is definitely one of the big concerns we have. And then again, with parts fatigue, we don’t know if the track stays really hard and smooth and it doesn’t rut-up, you’re probably a little less likely to break something. If that stays the case, whether it starts pulling up and rutting up a little bit, and you are kind of bouncing through holes and stuff, you’re going to take a bigger chance of breaking something. So, that’s when you’ve kind of got to be concerned about part’s fatigue and things like that.”
IN TERMS OF WORK LOAD, IS IT MORE, LESS, OR THE SAME IN PREPARING A CAR FOR BRISTOL DIRT AS IT IS FOR A NORMAL BRISTOL RACE?“Yeah, probably a little bit more work load because you’re doing a little bit of different things here. You’ve had to fabricate some new things that you don’t have to typically have to fabricate on a car; and trying to get the teams to agree on what they need and what they don’t so you’re not building three or four different cars. We also have to have a good back-up car that’s prepared too because you never know what’s going to happen. So, you’ve kind of got two cars that we don’t typically have in shop or in hand that we’re going to need on these cars. So, it’s been a little bit more of a strain on the fab shop to get that ready. And also, our road crews, just making sure they have everything they need in the way of spare parts they might need, and everything prepared for the back-up car. So, it’s been a little bit more workload this week, for sure.”
IS THE INCREASED WORK LOAD BECAUSE THIS IS A BRAND-NEW THING? OR, IF THERE IS A NEXT TIME, YOU WON’T HAVE TO GO THROUGH THIS PROCESS MORE THAN ONCE?‘I would like to say yeah because it would be easier to go through it again because you would know what you need for engine cooling and what worked and what didn’t, and what panels you made for protecting brake lines and things like that. All that stuff, you’d know what you need and what you don’t need. It’s definitely been a little bit of a process (with) lots of meeting about what we thought we needed to build and what kind of preventative plans we need to put in place to help with cooling and protecting parts and things like that. I would like to say it would be a lot easier to do again. We don’t have another one of these on the schedule. So, if we ever do it again, it looks like it would be with the Next Gen car, so I would think you would start all over.”
FROM A CREW CHIEF AND TEAM PERSPECTIVE, IS THIS SOMETHING YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE HAPPEN AGAIN?“I like different things. It’s going to be interesting to see how the race place out and how the track and the cars hold up. I enjoy dirt racing. I’ve been around it my whole life. I think it’s going to be something new for the fans. It will be interesting to see how the cars race and how they race each other. The Eldora dirt race with the trucks has been an exciting one to watch. So, hopefully it pans out for the Cup cars and I think they’ll put on a good show. There’s a reason all these guys race on Sunday. It’s because they’re really good. There will be guys with some experience with it and there will be guys that don’t have any experience. But I would imagine they’ll pick it up pretty quick.”
WITH HAVING A THIRD TEAM IN THE SHOP THIS YEAR, HOW MUCH HAS THAT MADE A DIFFERENCE? HOW MUCH HAS IT HELPED? OR IS IT LIKE IT WAS LAST YEAR BUT INSTEAD OF GERMAIN IT’S TRACKHOUSE?“Germain was in a separate shop last year, so they were a little bit more disconnected. With having TrackHouse in house, it’s basically like having a third team in-house. Travis (Mack) and Justin (Alexander) and myself have known each other for year. So, it’s nice that Travis is here. I think he’s doing a good job of getting that team rolling. It’s got a lot of really good guys on it. I think it’s helped. It’s brought in some new ideas for us and helped our processes, I think. And on the other side of that, it’s more cars to build and more to keep up with. So, it’s good and bad in ways; but I’m excited they’re here. I think you’ve seen speed. Like they had a lot of speed at Atlanta this past weekend as well as the No. 3 car. Unfortunately, we had our accident but overall, we had some pretty good speed in the race. I think you’re going to see both RCR and TrackHouse keep elevating their game.”
WITH THE NEXT GEN CAR, HOW MUCH HAVE YOU HAD YOUR HANDS ON IT? AT WHAT POINT DURING THE SEASON DOES YOUR FOCUS TURN TO THAT? HOW WILL YOU BALANCE THE REST OF THIS SEASON ALONG WITH WORKING ON THE NEW CAR FOR NEXT YEAR?“It’s definitely going to be a little bit of a balancing act. I’ve been around. I’ve been looking at things and talking with the guys. We have our testing guys that go work on that and kind of keep up on that. I keep up with them and what they’re doing and how it’s developing and things like that. I haven’t had my hands on it a whole lot by any means; so, I’ve still got a pretty steep learning curve with it. Fortunately, we’ve got a good group of guys that go with it and are very educated about it. I think that’s going to be of benefit. But when we get all the cars, we’ll see how it works. The Next Gen car we’ve got, the first one they built, the actual cars that we’re getting, production-wise, are going to be a little bit different than that. So, there’s still going to be some learning curve. The body is a little bit different. They’ve kind of refined that. There’s still going to be a pretty steep learning curve. It’s going to be a challenge to remain focused on what we’re doing in developing our cars and trying to make our cars better each week, as well as going and testing with that when we start getting cars put together, when NASCAR allows that. So, it’s going to be a busy second half of the season, for sure.”
DID MOST TEAMS BUILD NEW CARS FOR THIS RACE OR ARE THEY BRINGING THE OLDEST CAR THAT THEY WEREN’T GOING TO TAKE TO ANY OTHER TRACK?“You definitely have to build a car so the primary cars don’t come out of your inventory. NASCAR allows us to have so many cars a year. So, this car is kind of a throwaway car. It’s definitely a one-off car. A lot of teams, like ourselves, you build so many chassis over the years and then you kind of pick one that wasn’t in the litter for the whole year. That’s kind of the way we approached it. It’s not like it’s just a throwaway car, or anything like that. It’s just one that we’ve had sitting here that’s been used already and we kind of prioritized it to be our Bristol dirt car.”
ON TIRES, DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT YOU ANTICIPATE WITH THE BIAS PLY TREADS?“They’re bringing a little bit different tire it sounds like, from what they’ve raced at Eldora. We’ve looked at those. It’s definitely going to be different for us. We’re going to be focusing a little bit more on stagger and things like that. The radial tire, it’s a lot easier to get that; and they’re very consistent. The bias ply tire is going to bring a new element for us as far as keeping up with our stagger and making our sets consistent across and being able to change that. It’s definitely something that you can use as a tuning tool that doesn’t play into the radials quite as much. We have a very small window on the radial tires with stagger and rollout. So, that’s a very, very small window. This is a much bigger window. That’s something we’ve definitely got to keep up with. The tire guys are going to be pretty busy this weekend.”
DOES THE PIT CREW HAVE TO DO ANYTHING TO ADJUST? IS ONE TIRE A DIFFERENT SIZE THAN THEY’RE CURRENTLY USED TO CARRYING?“Yeah, they’re definitely a little bit smaller, it looks like, overall. So, it’s not going to be a big deal for the pit crew guys. Our road guys are doing it. I’m bringing one of our pit crew guys that’s going to come with us and help us with that. We’ll see how it goes. I don’t think they’re going to have to make any big adjustments to what they do. It will certainly be a little bit different. But as far as that goes, I don’t foresee anything big on that.”