NASCAR SPRINT CUP SERIES
KOBALT TOOLS 500
PHOENIX INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
TEAM CHEVY DRIVER PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT
November 12, 2010
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CATERPILLAR CHEVROLET met with media and discussed the altercation with Jeff Gordon last weekend at Texas, Chevrolet and IndyCar, what it takes to win at Phoenix, and more. Full Transcript:
ON RACING AT PHOENIX:
“Obviously we need to have a good weekend. We haven’t had the kind of results we’ve needed and that’s obviously been frustrating. But this is a track that’s been really good to us and we’ve been able to come here and turn things around a few times in my career and hopefully we can do that again this weekend. We’ve run really, really well as a team here. I think we finished second the last two races and this has been one of our stronger race tracks. Certainly we look forward to coming here and seeing if we can turn the ship around a little bit.”
ON CHEVROLET GETTING BACK INTO INDYCAR RACING IN 1012 AND DO YOU THINK ANYBODY IN THE NASCAR GARAGE MIGHT DO THE ‘DOUBLE’ AGAIN?
“Chevrolet is such a huge part of American motorsports. To not have an American manufacturer at Indy for the 500 is a disappointing thing. It’s great for the 500 and for Chevy to be back as an engine manufacturer back in the 500 I think is a really good deal for American motorsports. Chevy is so committed to motorsports and I think it’s a great idea. Chevy’s involvement here obviously is really, really respected. They’ve had a lot of championships and done a great job. I think it’s really cool. Some might say well, I wish they were spending that money here in NASCAR but the fact of the matter is that we need an American manufacturer for the Indy 500 and I think it’s cool that Chevrolet has stepped up to the plate.
“As far as doing the double thing, it’s just really hard to do. I think the guys that have the best chance of winning the Cup race on Saturday night, it would be a big distraction for them, you know what I mean? You just don’t hop into somebody else’s ballpark and go beat them. It takes a lot of preparation and a lot of work and effort to win an Indy race and it would just be really, really difficult to win both of them, obviously. But you never know what can happen. You would have to work on the scheduling some, for sure, to make it so it can happen. But I would be surprised to see it happen”
THIS IS THE TIGHTEST POINTS CHASE RACE EVER. I KNOW THE NO. 48 OF JIMMIE JOHNSON ISN’T AS STRONG THIS SEASON, BUT IS THERE ANY REASON WHY IT’S THIS SEASON AND NOT ANOTHER SEASON?
“I don’t know if it’s that the No. 48 isn’t as strong or if just other people have stepped their ball game up. Honestly, I think that the COT thing is starting to take affect; I think that the idea that NASCAR had about taking a lot of the things away from the teams to keep things a little more similar and create more chance for more people to win races, I think that’s started to take effect. There’s a lot of stuff going on that’s made the racing more equal. Last week after that incident (with Jeff Gordon), I went in the trailer and sat down and watched the race.
“And I’m watching the speed monitor and I’m looking at the top 20 cars. And the top 20 cars, there was like a tenth of a second difference between the fastest guy and the 18th place guys. I mean it was just so crazy close and that’s a factor of multi-car teams. That’s a factor of people becoming more familiar with the car. It’s a factor of Goodyear bringing better tires and making the cars drive better. I think it’s all those things. It’s more people coming to similar results on the race track and that’s made for a tighter Chase.”
YOU ARE AN ARTICULATE DRIVER IN THE GARAGE AND CONSIDERED ONE OF THE MORE INTELLIGENT DRIVERS OUT THERE. DID IT REALLY KIND OF SURPRISE YOU THAT YOU WERE IN A PHYSICAL ALTERCATION LAST WEEK?
“I wasn’t surprise I was in a physical altercation; I was surprised I was in the initial altercation. When it all happened, I thoroughly expected to be in a physical altercation. The thing obviously got out of hand really quickly prior to the physical altercation and it is what it is. I hate to be 43 years old and still learning, but I am still learning. Jeff (Gordon) and I have raced together for 20 years and obviously we’ve had issues. If you race with your best friend in the world for 20 years you’re going to have issues. It’s just competition. I left the facility Sunday surprised I was in all of it, not just the physical altercation.”
WE’VE SEEN THAT BEFORE FROM JEFF GORDON AT TIMES DURING HIS CAREER. DID YOU EXPECT IT?
“I could tell by the gait in his walk and by the look in his eye that he wasn’t coming down there to talk (laughter). It’s all funny now.”
THE INCIDENT BETWEEN YOU AND JEFF GORDON MADE MANY, MANY RACING AND NON-RACING TV NEWS SHOW, FIRST IS IS OVER OR WILL IT REPLAY HERE AND THEN DO YOU THINK THAT IS GOOD FOR NASCAR? “For the first part of the question, I feel like it is over. Like I said earlier, it is a learning…it is a chance for me to learn. A chance for both of us to learn. I took the brunt of the responsibility and I will continue to do that, but as far as I’m concerned and I’m not going to speak for Jeff (Gordon), but as far as I am concerned it is race on. We’re here this weekend to win this race and obviously tensions have a possibility of being a little high because of what happened last week. But the reality is, we are here to win this race and so is he. I don’t feel like this thing will continue on.
“The whole debate about what’s good for NASCAR, what’s not good for NASCAR, I don’t know. I know that fans on the back straightaway thought it was cool. I could hear that. I’m torn between what is good for NASCAR and what is not good for NASCAR. I try to conduct myself in a way that will make me and my kids and my sponsors and everybody proud of me even when things aren’t good. You can certainly cross a line. I come to the race to race. I don’t come to the race to be part of the show. When I hear people describe these events as show, that perturbs me a little bit; I’m here to race. I understand that this is entertainment for people. I get it. I’m a sports fan. Sports are entertaining for me. But, I’m not here to create a show. I’m not here to be involved in that stuff. I’m here to race. I want the race to be the show. That’s my take on it.”
WHAT’S THE MOST DIFFICULT ASPECT OF RACING HERE AND THEN WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO GO FAST HERE AT PHOENIX? “The difficult thing is that both ends of the race track are so different. You can see the front straightaway is downhill. If you look right there, you can already see that you are sitting perpendicular to the turn one wall. That is a very very sharp corner. That turn one happens really, really quickly. You have to transition your car from going straight to turning very, very quickly in one. In three and four you have a really, really long sweeping corner. So both ends of the race track are completely different. You brake completely different. It is a real challenge to get the driver in sync with both corners and to get the car in sync with both corners. That is the most challenging thing about the race track. That is what makes it hard. That is what makes it fun. That is what makes the people that run well here, that is their advantage is that they can do well in both corners.”
AFTER THE ACCIDENT YOU SAID YOU WERE GOING UP TO ACKNOWLEDGE JEFF (GORDON), THAT YOU KNEW WHY HE WAS MAD, BUT THEN DURING THE TELECONFERENCE AT ONE POINT, IT SOUNDED LIKE YOU SAID YOU WERE ANGRY WITH HIM TOO: “To be perfectly honest, when the whole thing went down on Sunday, it all happened so quickly that I didn’t 100% know what happened. I obviously didn’t mean to wreck myself and obviously didn’t mean to wreck him. When Jeff came and he let me know that he didn’t like the way I raced him, I went to accelerate, like I did say Sunday, I went to let him know ‘Hey, I got it’. But also I didn’t understand why he was as mad as he seemed to be. That was just frustration. Then the rest of it was just…I honestly don’t know how to explain what happened after that, I really don’t. That is really it.”
I DON’T KNOW IF YOU HEARD THE COMMENTS THAT MIKE FORD MADE LAST WEEKEND, KIND OF THROWING IT IN THEIR FACE, KEVIN (HARVICK) WAS KIND OF OUTSPOKEN ABOUT IT SAYING THAT’S JUST NOT THE RIGHT THING TO DO, HOW GOOD IS HE AT PLAYING MIND GAMES? “I think Kevin is very prepared. I think Kevin is ready to win a championship. I think Kevin is in a great position to win a championship. I think he is ready to go. I don’t if Kevin is playing mind games; I think he is just telling you how he feels. That is the cool thing about Kevin is you know exactly where you stand and exactly how he feels. I don’t think Kevin is playing games. I have no idea what the comments were but know Kevin well enough to know that he’s just telling you what he believes to be true. He’s not a mind game kind of guy. He’s just straight at you; this is how it, this is how I feel and what you are getting from Kevin is what he honestly feels.”
HOW DOES THE FALL AND SPRING RACES DIFFER WITH THE SUN GLARE AND VISIBILITY? “This track historically has been a difficult track for visibility with the sun setting, and getting into Turn 1. It’s very difficult. It is really, really hard to see. I know it sounds silly, but I can’t remember if it is the spring race or the fall race where it is the worst. I’ll have to go back and look through my notes. I just don’t remember. But, when the sun is setting, getting into turn one, it is very, very difficult to see even in qualifying, it is hard to see getting into turn one. That is an issue. You have got to be able to see the corner. When that sun starts to set, it is very hard to do that.”
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