NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
GOODY’S FAST RELIEF 500
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
MARCH 31, 2012
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 BB&T CHEVROLET, met with members of the media at Martinsville Speedway and discussed his outlook for tomorrow’s race, his nephew Jeb Burton’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut and other topics. Full Transcript:
JEFF, TALK ABOUT YOUR SEASON SO FAR AND OUTLOOK HEADING INTO TOMORROW’S RACE
“We have certainly not had the start we wanted to have. I mean we went to Daytona and that went well, and then we went to Phoenix and that went well right up until the time we blew an engine but we ran really well at Phoenix………we ran well at Bristol. The two 1.5 mile tracks didn’t go good for us which was surprising based on our testing this offseason and we really felt well about what we were doing. We did end up 14th at Vegas which obviously isn’t good, but isn’t horrible. Then last week we ran about 17th or 18th and that is just not good enough so we are having to regroup a little bit on the 1.5 mile and 2 mile program which that is disappointing because it’s so important to be good on those race tracks. But our short track program has been good and we have been fast and we feel like we will be fast again tomorrow.”
JEFF TELL US YOUR THOUGHTS ABOUT WATCHING YOUR NEPHEW JEB BURTON RACE AT YOUR HOMETRACK AND SEE HIS DEBUT
“Well, it’s extra rewarding for me this weekend because I have never seen Jeb race as silly as that sounds. We are gone every weekend, and of course they race on the weekend. My schedule has never allowed me to see him race so that has been something that has been disappointing for me but I haven’t found a way around it. So I have watched videos, but have never watched him in person. To be able to watch him today means a lot to me. You know, he is a young man who is a very respectful young man. He wants to make it in this sport and he is working hard to make it in this sport and hopefully he can have a good, solid day. It’s difficult as a young driver to try not to conquer Rome in one day but I think he will do really well. He is fast and he looks very comfortable on the track and I have listened to him a lot this weekend and he knows what he is talking about, he knows what he wants and I am looking forward to seeing it. It’s fun watching my son and I race together, and I’m watching Ward and Jeb race together and there are a lot of similarities and I get to sit on the sidelines and laugh about this one. It’s fun to watch those two together and do the normal father/son thing about disagreeing and working that out so that has been fun to watch but it’s a cool weekend for our family. We have got everybody coming up to watch Jeb and we are all going to have a chance to sit together and for me that is………I never get a chance to do those things. We miss a lot of things as it relates to family because of racing so to be able to come together while we are racing – will be a special weekend for us.”
ARE THERE SOME TRACKS LIKE MARTINSVILLE WHERE THE DRIVER HAS MORE ABILITY TO CHANGE HOW A CAR IS WORKING?
“As many times…….we have had this conversation a lot. Wherever a driver is good at that is what he thinks is a driver’s race track. He thinks that is where drivers matter. The fact of the matter is that drivers matter everywhere. And the cars matter everywhere. You can’t take apart the car and the driver and say “it’s this or it’s that’. The reason why is to get the car to do what it needs to do, the driver has to be part of that. The way he drives the car, how he drives the car, and how he communicates with the team. All those things go into making a good race car, and all those things go into making a good set up. So that communication with the team along with the driver is vital. You really can’t separate it. Without a doubt, the way the car drives has a huge impact on the ability for the driver to do the things he needs to do. But it’s easier to get that car to do what it needs to do for some drivers than it is for others. So it’s hard to give a percentage, and it’s always been hard to give a percentage, and it always will be. But the reality of it is that it’s much easier at Daytona and Talladega to say that was all car. Anytime you go to a racetrack where the cars are all spread out, which we never do, where the cars are all spread out and you are running wide open – it’s real easy to say, ‘well that was all car’. But we never do that, so anytime you have to lift off the gas, go around the corner and get on the brake, and get back on the gas…….the driver is heavily involved. The driver has a lot to do with the success he is having and the amount of failure he is having, his relationship with the team, and his relationship with the car goes into all that.”
WHAT MAKES KEVIN HARVICK GOOD AT THIS TRACK?
“Well, first of all I think Kevin’s personality fits racing. You know what I mean? He is aggressive and knows when to turn it on and when not to turn it on and this is the kind of race track where you have to know when to be patient and have to know when to mash the gas and go hard. I think this race track is a lot of what Kevin is all about and his personality. He is really good at throttle control and he is really good at braking. You know, Kevin is one of our best race car drivers in the series. For a while he has struggled on the 1.5 mile and 2 mile tracks, but now he is one of the best at that too. Kevin is one of the most well-rounded drivers on the circuit period. This track in particular, I think it just suits his style. It’s about being aggressive and you have to be aggressive at the right time and patient at the other time, and I just think that works for him.”
WHAT IS YOUR IMPRESSION ON TONY STEWART’S RECENT RUN AND WHERE DO YOU SEE IT RANKING IN THE GREAT RUNS WE HAVE SEEN IN RECENT YEARS?
“The deal about Stewart is that you know he is capable. You know, he can win races at any time and he is one of those drivers that has a rare talent to be able to just get it done at any time. They were not running well…..they were running well, but not Tony Stewart standards. Then from the outside looking in it looked like they flipped the switch, and then they went from a mediocre/upper-echelon team to a great team. And they have carried that along with crew chief change………they have carried that along and that is really impressive that you can step it up at the right time when all the pressure is on, and when it’s do-or-die; and they stepped it up and won that championship and beat a really, really good 99 team and then not lose anything over the winter. To continue that has been really impressive with a crew chief change. So it’s hard to rank it, but it’s extremely impressive.”
CAN YOU TELL A DIFFERENCE IN KEVIN HARVICK NOW THAT HE DOESN’T HAVE THE TRUCK AND NATIONWIDE TEAMS?
“I think he is way more relaxed. I think to make a Truck or Nationwide team work, you can’t just do a single car team. You have to do it as a big team, a big entity and as soon as you make it big a lot of the pleasure of owning a team goes away. And then you get so much more responsibility but I thought Kevin handled it as well as it could be handled. I really thought it would be a distraction to him but he went through all that and handled it very well. There is no question that you can tell he is way more relaxed. You know, I will see him just sitting down and just talking and two years ago you wouldn’t see him doing that. He didn’t really have very much time and he would be to the point but now he will have a much more in-depth conversation about things and you started to see that change last year. I think it’s going to help him and he is going to be more able to focus now on one thing. And I think you are always better if you can focus on one thing.
“He seems to be in a really good place personally and professionally. He seems very much at peace and I think an improved Kevin Harvick will be difficult to deal with. He is going to be very difficult to beat in this championship because he is in a good place, feels good about what we are doing at RCR; and don’t get me wrong, he is not complacent. His personality has not changed and he wants it, and wants it now. And he is not willing to wait. None of that has changed but he is able to focus just on the Cup thing. He is doing Nationwide and Truck too, but when that race is over, it’s over. He goes home, takes a shower and he is done with it. Where before he would go home and take a shower and the day just started and that is a huge difference.”
YOU TALKED ABOUT YOUR SHORT TRACK PROGRAM DOING WELL, COULD YOU TALK ABOUT THE NEXT SHORT TRACK – RICHMOND?
“Richmond is one of my favorite race tracks, it’s a really cool track. It’s a track where we have not run as well at recently. We have run well, but not good enough. Which I can say that about a lot of places, but I feel like I ought go there and should have a chance to win. It’s one of my best race tracks so we have to put a lot of emphasis on because I am better at some tracks than I am others. And the ones I am good at, we have to make sure we go execute on and I feel like that is a track we need to go execute on for sure.”
WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT SOME SHORT TRACKS THAT YOU DON’T ABOUT OTHERS?
“Well, to be honest all the short tracks to me are fun and I wish we had more short tracks and I think our sport would be a little more cool if we had more short tracks. All race tracks have different personalities but short track racing is so much more in your face when you are having a good day, having a great day, having a bad day, having a horrible day, because that is just how short track racing is. And I like that about our sport. It rewards those who are running well, and punishes those who are not running well. And to me, you can’t hide on a short track. At Michigan when you are having a bad day, you can just hide and stay out of trouble and hope other people have problems. It’s very, very hard to do that here and that is what I like about it. It’s just the best way I know how to describe it is that it’s in your face. You are side-by-side all the time, you are bumper-to-bumper all the time and its full pressure from the time they drop the green to the time they drop the checkered.”
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS AND PERSPECTIVE ON ROCKINGHAM WHERE E THE TRUCKS ARE GOING TO RUN IN A COUPLE WEEKS?
“Well they will leave Rockingham loving it. It’s one of the coolest race tracks we ever ran on. It was hard and it was really, really tough. You would burn the tires off the thing and it would get really hard to drive and we tend to think about all the bad stuff about it because we don’t do it anymore but it was one of the hardest tracks we would go to. You would take off and have new tires on and you would feel like Richard Petty and a few laps later you would feel like you had never been on a race track before in your life and you would change lines and you would be on top of the track, you would be on the bottom and it was a lot of fun when things were going well. When things weren’t going well, it was miserable. It was one of those race tracks that I got a chance to race on when growing up and moving into the larger divisions and it’s really cool to see the Truck Series going back there. I actually contemplated trying to run the race because it would work in the schedule but it really wasn’t in my best interest to do that. But there will be a lot more fans once they leave there.”
YOU HAVE ALWAYS BEEN THE GO TO GUY IN THE GARAGE AND DID YOU EXPERIENCE THAT CHANGE ANY AT ALL LAST YEAR WHEN YOU GUYS WERE STRUGGLING? AND MARK MARTIN ALWAYS TALKS ABOUT THAT WHEN HE WINS A RACE HE IS WORRIED THAT IT MIGHT BE THE LAST ONE AND DO YOU HAVE THOSE THOUGHTS?
“Well, last year sucked. There is no way around it. We ran awful and we were just pathetic. And I don’t care who you are, there is no way you can have a year like that and come out of it beaming with confidence and feeling like we know what we are doing. And if you are, you are just arrogant as hell.
“We set out to change a lot of stuff and we have seen some improvement in some areas and in others we haven’t. I was lucky enough to race with Mark a long time and learned a lot from Mark a long time before I started racing with him and he is right. You never know when you are going to win another race. I know people laugh when he says that, but it’s true. The day I don’t think I can be competitive, I promise you, I will leave. I have never gotten into a race car to get a check. I got every dollar I could get while I was driving it but I didn’t want to get in it to get the dollar, I got in it because I wanted to get the trophy. And that is the God’s-honest truth.
“I have been through this before in my career where I wasn’t successful but we got back to it, and I believe we will get back to it. It will be difficult, there are some things I have got to change and there are some things that have to change around me. I have to change and some things around me have to change and we have worked hard to do both of those things. We will get back and I believe in my heart we will get back. We saw it some at the end of the year last year and we have seen it this year some. I thought we had a legitimate shot there for a while to win Bristol, but it got away from us. We have had a few shots and at this point last year we weren’t even close to seeing it. We have seen some improvements but not at the level we need to.”
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