NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Ford 400
Topics: Ford 400
November 22, 2009
THE MODERATOR: Let's roll into our championship Ford 400 season finale here at Homestead Miami. We're joined up at the podium right now by today's race runner-up. That's Jeff Burton. He drives the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, and our 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Raybestos Rookie of the Year, that is Joey Logano. He drives the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Jeff, congratulations on a strong finish. You had a strong finish last night in the Nationwide Series. Your thoughts now as you build towards 2010.
JEFF BURTON: Certainly we're happy with what we did tonight. We weren't ecstatic about what we did; Denny and those guys did a little better job than what we did at the end. Just a little too loose, but I think that's a little bit of me and Todd getting to know each other a little bit better. Again, we're playing catch-up. We're not 100 percent sure what we need to be doing to the cars, and the speed that we have right now we're not 100 percent accustomed to it. So we've got to get familiar with it and understand what we need to do with our cars, and that's as much about me telling him what I want as much as anything.
Hopefully we can continue to improve this winter because I know a lot of our competition is, and we can come out and be strong next year.
THE MODERATOR: Let's also now hear from Joey Logano. Joey, congratulations on being named the Raybestos Rookie of the Year. Your thoughts about that. Certainly a very strong performance for you this year.
JOEY LOGANO: Yeah, it's really cool to get the Raybestos Rookie of the Year. It's obviously one of our big goals. I've got to thank the Home Depot for sicking behind me throughout the year. We had a real rough start and finished 20th in the points. You know, I guess it's okay.
At the beginning of the season if you told me that's where we were going to finish, I'd have been ecstatic about it. But now you always want better.
We just seemed like tonight we weren't real good. We started plugging away to the front, we got to about 13th and the car wasn't that bad, and under a pit stop somehow the end plate on the wing got hit and knocked off. Had to come back in and replace that and go back out, back in the back, and try to plug along.
But it was tough just to -- after about five or six laps, most everyone ran about the same lap times, so it was tough to make our way back to the front. We did what we had to do tonight, and I want to thank all of my guys for sticking with me throughout the year.
THE MODERATOR: One note on Joey; at 19 years of age, he's the youngest driver to ever win the Raybestos Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Let's take questions for either Jeff Burton or Joey Logano.
Q. Jeff, I think it was you, somebody at RCR said a while back that you guys built your cars to start the season and realized that you had gone in the wrong direction with them, and basically had to rebuild a fleet. You've now finished second two weeks in a row and three top 5s in the last four weeks. Was it simply a matter of you had the cars wrong and getting them right, or are you guys feeling like you're back to where you need to be?
JEFF BURTON: Well, I think it's more than that. I think obviously you've got to bring good hardware to the racetrack, and we did push the wrong buttons this winter and played catch-up obviously. With Todd coming on board, we've gotten together pretty quickly and had fast race cars pretty much all four weekends, and that's certainly -- we've put a different group of people together, a real strong group of people, and I think that's helped us, as well.
So I think we've gotten -- we're certainly gotten better cars, but also I think we've done a nice job of putting together a really, really strong race team.
Q. Joey, you kind of got off to a little bit of rocky start at the beginning of the season. I know there were a lot of demands and expectations for you. How did you kind of keep your mental frame of mind positive during the early season struggles?
JOEY LOGANO: It was tough at times, believe me. You know, the media wasn't saying the greatest things, but if anything, it was more motivating. You really wanted to keep pushing it and become a better race car driver. You know, at the time I was running good in the Nationwide car and I was not doing so good in a Cup car, so I was getting a little bit of self-confidence out of the Nationwide car which was helping me there.
I kept pushing it and trying to learn these race cars as much as I can. By no means I'm not there yet, but I feel like we made some big steps this year, still have a few more big steps to go. These things drive so different than any other race car I've ever driven. A matter of figuring out how to drive them, that was the big part. And then the second part is figure out how you want them to drive, what part of the corner you want to work on, what do you need to make these things go fast. It was a few big things I was learning throughout the season.
Hopefully throughout the off-season we can test a little bit and get some more seat time and become a little better next year.
Q. Do you remember, Joey, it'll about five years ago in February, Mark Martin's first retirement lunch at his shop, and he said, I would hire him tomorrow to race a Cup car. Did you think back then you'd be sitting here as Rookie of the Year?
JOEY LOGANO: No, I don't look that far ahead. I think that's kind of a big deal. I've always been a day-by-day person and always worry about the next thing as they come. I've never been a person to look two races ahead, it's always the next one.
You know, at the time I thought that was awesome. That's part of what got me to this point, from him saying stuff like that, to get me a ride like this. It was a real big deal in my career.
Q. For Jeff, I know it's a little early to look ahead, but you take an effort like this, and are you already thinking about what you have to work on in the off-season, what you have to do with these cars? I mean, do you feel encouraged coming out of this?
JEFF BURTON: Well, I certainly think that all of us at RCR are encouraged. I think it's important to understand that we're not where we need to be, and if we were, one of us would be over there where Denny is right now.
You know, we've made up a lot of ground, but I think it's -- we can't take the approach going into next year that we've got it, you know what I mean, okay, we've got it figured out, because I guarantee to that our competition will be working really hard to be better, and if we bring the same stuff that we have here today to California, we won't run very well.
So we've got to find a way to continue to improve, which is what we didn't do last year, and we have to be on full alert to not let that happen again. I think we made a lot of mistakes last year that we can learn from going into this coming year, and hopefully we don't make those same mistakes again. I don't think we will. I think that we'll be much smarter and do the right things.
But certainly I think all of us are fairly encouraged.
THE MODERATOR: We also have tonight's third place finisher. That's Kevin Harvick. He drives the No. 29 Shell-Pennzoil Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. Certainly, Kevin, good way that you finished up here this evening. Your thoughts about tonight's race.
KEVIN HARVICK: Yeah, it was a good night for us. Obviously like Jeff said, we wanted to win the race. We got off a couple runs there in the middle of the race with a flat right front tire and over-adjusted it for the second run and kind of lost some track position.
But good weekend. It's been a good last several months. Really since Sears Point, I think the cars have shown the speed that they needed to. We've crashed a lot and made a lot of mistakes from all angles to kind of screw that up when we had good cars, so from the driver's seat, from a lot of different angles. But the speed has been there, and now we just need to get the consistency back and do the things we've always been known for as a company, and that's being consistent and making decent days out of bad days.
You know, happy with the turnaround, and we'll go forward.
Q. Gary just asked this to Jeff and I'm going to ask you, Kevin, we've seen teams have momentum at the end of seasons and not carry it over to the following season. We saw that with Carl last year; he won two out of the last three races and didn't really carry it over. What changes do you need to make sure that you carry this momentum over to 2010 and keep this going? I also have a question for Jeff. Just wanted to clarify your contract. Are you in the same boat with Kevin that you're up at the end of 2010, or are you signed for a couple more years?
KEVIN HARVICK: The biggest thing is we just can't sit on our hands. We have to push forward. You have to figure stuff out. We figured a lot of stuff out in a short amount of time while we're still trying to race, and that's hard.
I would assume that they have a good plan going into the off-season as far as the things that we need to work on. And the biggest thing when it comes down to it is depth of your cars and your fleet. We've been building these cars, and we don't have a lot of them, and we've figured some stuff out suspension-wise, so we've just got to keep pushing forward, and you've got to get ahead, and once you get ahead, you can't stop, you've got to keep pushing.
JEFF BURTON: I think I have two years left. I think. Not real sure.
Q. Jeff, as the elder statesman of the group up there at that table, I was just wondering if you could possibly kind of put into context what this win by Jimmie, the fourth in a row, means. Can we call him the greatest driver of this generation?
JEFF BURTON: Well, everybody wants to make history when history has not been made yet, if that makes any sense. He's not done. You know, it's hard to -- it's hard when you're racing against a guy to say he's the best. That's hard to do. But hey, four in a row, and consistent race winner, consistent five top, consistent pole sitter, how in the world can you not put him on the list?
You know, I have a great deal of respect for the work they put into it. The thing that interests me is I think sometimes I hear the fans say it's coming easy to him. I suspect they work really hard. I suspect nothing comes that easy to anybody, and I'm sure that Chad and Jimmie and everybody works exceptionally hard. I know that I've had the privilege to work with Mark Martin, and I know if you're going to run as well as he does, you're going to have to work your ass off, and I'm sure that Jimmie does that.
I can't put Jimmie in history because he's not done yet, and I don't think that we -- I think it's premature to try to do that. But anybody that doesn't respect what they've done isn't being fair to them. I understand pulling for somebody else, I get all that. I don't really like the Cowboys very much, but I really think that I should respect what they've done, because it's been an incredible -- if you would have told me four years ago that somebody would win four championships in a row, I would tell you you're crazy because 29 cars finished in the lead lap tonight. That's how competitive it is what we do.
To win four championships in a row, I didn't think anybody would be able to do that. Never in 100 years did I think somebody would be able to do that.
Q. Kevin and Jeff, as the two drivers a little older than Joey, this will be directed to you. Tonight the 42 and the 14 had a few incidents. The 42 got black-flagged for two laps, last night Keselowski and Hamlin. Kevin, when you were going through stuff like this, I know fans liked it, the media liked it, it was very exciting. Does the sport need that kind of stuff? Do fans want to see that? Is it unnecessary? Does it add an exciting element?
KEVIN HARVICK: Well, I think there's a lot of different ways you could approach it. I think that the consistency from 2001 to yesterday is probably a little different, and I think that if you're going to make those calls consistently, then you need to keep them consistent now. We just need a consistent pattern.
This garage has a very good way of taking care of its own problems, and usually if you cause the most problems, you'll have the hardest time. It's pretty simple. It's self-teaching. I went through that whole road. A lot of times you can fix things by not doing it in a race car. I.
Didn't see what happened tonight, but you have your moments where you lose your mind and lose your temper and you want to just run over the top of somebody. If turnabout is fair play and it's penalized, then it needs to be penalized. We just all need to know the rules. But I think there's probably a lot better ways of handling it.
JEFF BURTON: Like I told you last night, what this sport needs is good racing. It doesn't need running that mouth. I think running that mouth is not what it's all about. I think good, hard racing is what the fans want to see. There's a certain portion of people that want to see people yelling at each other, but I think the general population is really better off just watching good racing.
KEVIN HARVICK: Good hard racing is going to create its own accidents, it's going to create its own moments, it's going to create everything that the fans want to see. Good side-by-side racing will -- that stuff is going to happen regardless. There's not too many of us that are -- I don't want to get out anymore and fight with somebody. I don't know, you just grow out of that, I guess, as you get older, and there's not too many people in the garage that want to handle it that way.
Q. Jeff, I think the 48 team has only had one DNF during their championship run in the Chase. Can you speak a little bit to how their ability to avoid failures, not put themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time has contributed to their success?
JEFF BURTON: I think it speaks for itself. It's not that they just finish races, they win races, too. If you look at the number of races they've won in the Chase, obviously it's a big number. So not only do they not have problems, they finish really well, too.
It's more -- it has to be more than just not having problems.
THE MODERATOR: Guys, thank you very much. We enjoyed watching you race this year. We appreciate everything. Take care.
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