NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Gatorade Duel 2
Topics: Gatorade Duel
February 17, 2011
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA
KERRY THARP: Our race winner for the second Gatorade Duel, leading into the 53rd running of the Daytona 500, is Jeff Burton, for Richard Childress Racing. He's joined up front right now by his team owner Richard Childress.
Jeff, your first Speedweeks win at Daytona, second time in Victory Lane at Daytona, but this Caterpillar car has been here in Victory Lane before for the 500. Your thoughts leading into your first crack at winning that big trophy on Sunday?
JEFF BURTON: We have to keep in perspective that this is not the Daytona 500, it's great to be in Victory Lane, real proud of that. Last year obviously was very influencing toward the end of the year. Kept ourselves in position to win races but never made it happen. Put ourselves in position, I thought we were in great shape to win the other night, but to win tonight means a great deal. That's what drove us nuts last year. It's good to get that off our back and prove to ourselves we can do it. Looking forward to this year.
I think obviously the Daytona 500 is the first hurdle. There's the Daytona 500, a championship, two biggest things on my list I want to get done. Hopefully we're just one step closer to that.
KERRY THARP: Richard Childress, congratulations. Your thoughts about looking ahead to Sunday's running. Got to be pleased today with the performance of the 31 car.
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Yeah, I am. All of our cars performed well. It came down to having the right teammate with him pushing. He was really proud of Jeff and Clint, how they worked together. Came down to that last lap. Clint made a move. That's what he was supposed to do. We were able to win it. I knew one of them won it, I couldn't tell at that time.
But it's really neat. Our guys and everyone at the shop has worked so hard this winter to put a package together to come here and perform, not only here but everywhere. Glad to have Jeff in the Winner's Circle and couldn't be happier for him.
KERRY THARP: Questions.
Q. Richard, I don't think any of the leaders took tires in either Duel. On Sunday are you going to change tires at all or just once?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: I'm sure we'll change tires at some point. Right now, the tires look great all day long for 150 miler. I'm sure Todd Berrier could answer that better than me. I think you'll not see a lot of tires being changed.
Q. 150 miles today, 500 on Sunday. Are there any concerns for engine wear? Do you think we'll see a lot of blown engines? What do you think the mechanical issues are going to be?
JEFF BURTON: I'm just a driver.
KERRY THARP: Todd, any insight on that?
TODD BERRIER: I feel pretty comfortable about the package that we're running now, the temps we're running now. I think you can overdo it. At the end of the day, we're all smart enough to know it's a long race and you have to be there at the end to be in a position to win it.
Q. Jeff, how much more deliberate in this style of racing can you be about picking a teammate, finding a guy to work with, than you could in the big-pack drafting?
JEFF BURTON: You know, it's an advantage to have a teammate, there's no question about it. Everybody can see that. The difficult part is getting with a teammate.
We worked diligently today to make sure we were with a teammate. There's no question about that. We tried very hard to be with Clint. Everywhere he went, I went. Everywhere I went, he went. Todd said it best, it's a shame there wasn't room in Victory Lane for both cars.
It doesn't always work out. You can have everything lined up and get a restart. Now you're side-by-side instead of front to back. You can try to get in front of each other, but that doesn't mean it's going to work out, like happened to Kevin and I on Saturday night.
It's important. Everybody is going to try really hard to be with a teammate, but there's times it's not going to work out. You're going to have to go and make it work with someone that is willing to work with you as hard as a guy that is your teammate.
Q. Is it fair to think of Kurt Busch as a favorite for the Daytona 500 or nobody has separated themselves yet?
JEFF BURTON: Hell, I just thought we won.
You know, I don't know how you would call anybody a favorite. I mean, nothing against what Kurt has done. He's won the two he's been in. But looks to me like the Roush guys have their package, their cooling package. Probably they're ahead of the game on everybody. I wouldn't turn my head on them because it seems to me they could push longer than anybody else.
I thought that could have been an advantage for them. But, listen, there's a lot of quality teams and drivers. There's a lot of people like Todd that are staying up till 2:00 in the morning thinking about how to make this thing work. I don't know who you would call a favorite.
Q. You seemed to be a little upset about the rule changes the other day. Are you satisfied with the package you have now in terms of RPM cooling, the plate size? Do you expect more changes before the 500?
RICHARD CHILDRESS: Anything's possible. I don't think they'll make any more changes. You know, yeah, I was a little disappointed in some of the changes because not just us, but a lot of teams had spent a lot of money from our tests down here to come and put a cooling package together, engine packages and everything.
But that's the way it goes. We've been through this for many years in the past. It's just another Daytona 500. Hats off to NASCAR because they had to do something. We can't run 205, 204 miles an hour. I told Mike Helton this morning I wouldn't want to be in his shoes making his decisions. They're doing the best they can. Everybody's not going to be happy. I wasn't happy. Somebody else is happy. They're doing a great job with what they're doing there.
Q. Jeff, can you talk a little bit about the side drafting. I know your spotter told you at one point the 99 was coming up beside you, taking air off you. Can you talk about that sensation and will it be a strategy on Sunday?
JEFF BURTON: I think we're all learning as we go. I thought that Saturday night Kevin and I got on it pretty quickly and learned a lot really quickly. As the week has gone on, every practice, every race, we just keep getting smarter and learning more.
Certainly I saw more side drafting today in the race than I've seen in the Shootout. I think that's just an example of learning. I mean, we've done this tandem thing before, but never with this much. So we're all learning a lot and we're learning quickly. If you're not learning, you're going to be left behind because it is a different kind of an art to make this happen.
Q. Jeff, you talked a little about you've done it a little before. Is there any way you can put into laymen's terms what you thought of this lengthy two-car tandem around this Superspeedway?
JEFF BURTON: Well, when it's just two of you and there's nothing going on, it's not all that hard. You can be more effective if you're doing it right than if you're not doing it right. There's no question about that.
On the other hand, when stuff starts happening, it starts happening quick. The wrecks we saw today, several of them were just because you get such a big run, sometimes there's nowhere to go. The guy that's leading the tandem, he can see it, but the guy behind him can't see it. You can drag the brakes, do whatever you want, but when there's 3,500 pounds pushing you, you're not going a slow it down all that quickly. You can get into stuff that you didn't mean to get into.
It's very hard. You got to really be looking ahead. You got to really be thinking about where am I going to go, when am I going to go there. I know one time, I was on the radio, I said, I'm going in the middle. Okay, go in the middle. Got to stop, got to stop. Okay, go. It was all in one second. Happening quicker than I could explain it.
When you're catching somebody five miles an hour faster than they're running, they're side-by-side, there's times there's not going to be anywhere to go. It's harder than you think.
Q. Jeff, I'm still trying to figure out how this is going to work with 43 cars.
JEFF BURTON: Me, too (smiling).
Q. Are we going to see the big one?
JEFF BURTON: Oh, yeah.
Q. It used to be a crapshoot of whoever survives till the end. But now it seems whoever is in that tandem from the start is going to be there.
JEFF BURTON: You want me to tell you what's going to happen?
JEFF BURTON: We're going to have about 400 miles of some stuff happening, and we're going to have 100 miles of more stuff happening than you can keep up. We're going to have six or seven cautions in the last 100 miles. A short race till the end of the checkered. That's what's going to happen.
It's my prediction it will be the same Daytona 500 we've had the last six or seven Daytona 500s. It's going to be different getting up to that point. But when somebody has a chance to take the Daytona 500 trophy home, you do things that you weren't going to do 100 laps before that. It's the same thing every time we come down here.
I can almost guarantee you that's the way the Daytona 500's going to break. We could have some crazy thing where it doesn't happen like that. But I can almost guarantee you, that's what's going to happen.
Q. Even though you have built this super team, championship caliber, I know you probably both remember to when you had to stretch pennies and you dreamed of the Daytona 500. When you have a story today like Brian Keselowski getting pushed into this race by his brother, what would that have been like for you when you were stretching pennies?
JEFF BURTON: I get really frustrated and perturbed and upset when I hear people say our sport doesn't have personality, there's no personalities in our sport. They don't know what the hell they're talking about. Things like that are what our sport's about. Our sport's about passion, it's about desire, it's about staying up till 4:00 in the morning worrying about what's going to happen. It's about having dirt underneath your fingernails working.
The man sitting next to me, there's no one in the garage that's worked harder, there's no one in the business that's worked harder than him to get to where he is. There's a lot of people that say, Look at him, he's got this, that. Okay, you work 20 hours a day. You take the risk, do all the things he did to get to where he is. People don't understand that.
That's what our sport is about. If you look at the drivers, the car owners, the crew chiefs, the guys changing tires, there's people that had a dream and busted their ass to make it happen. It's for every sport, for every business. But it's what separates and makes our sport special, is it takes heart, it takes desire, and it's passion.
That's when people say there's no personalities, there's none of that, man, come to the race, pay attention, you know.
Q. In a general way, what do you think of the new surface? How does it affect the way you race?
JEFF BURTON: Well, obviously the new surface has allowed us to do what we were doing at Talladega. The crew chiefs and the people with the teams saw what we did at Talladega and they all had a plan coming down here to do this tandem thing. We saw what it took to win Talladega. So the surface has allowed us to do that.
The old surface, you couldn't do that, because you couldn't have somebody touching you. You would have spun out. There just wasn't enough grip. The new surface has allowed us to do the things we were trying to do at Talladega. The teams, the technology has allowed us to come down here and do it, too. Those two things together has had a major impact on the kind of racing we're seeing.
Q. Jeff, can you go through that last half mile? How long did it take you to realize that you had won?
JEFF BURTON: Clint told me we won (laughter). I said, Good job, Clint. I don't know who won, but it was -- you know, thanks for working with me. He said, Oh, I think you won.
Q. You didn't know?
JEFF BURTON: Typically he's wrong, so I was assuming that he won (smiling).
Q. It's been a little while since you won. People like to say, These races don't count. A trophy is a trophy. What is it like to be back in Victory Lane?
JEFF BURTON: Well, I mean, it does count. It doesn't count as much as it will on Sunday or it will next Sunday. There's no denying that. We'll keep that in perspective. I'm pretty sure everybody out there was trying to win as hard as we were. I'm not trying to downplay it. At the same time, we understand that this is a qualifying race, it's not the 500.
You know, I think it's pretty clear the way our year went in the Chase, we became very frustrated. We did not conduct ourselves the way that we're used to conducting ourselves. A lot of that was frustration. Looking back on that, a lot of that was frustration. To be in the position we were in over and over and over. Richard kept telling me, Don't worry about it, you're going to win a lot of races. You didn't deserve to win. After this year, it's going to get paid back to you. Over time it wore on me and I didn't do a good job of responding to that. I'm disappointed in myself for doing that.
At the same time, to put ourselves in position to win the first two events, then to close one of them off, means a great deal to us as a team because, you know, we did do it. I never thought we couldn't do it, but we weren't doing it. It does feel good to get it done.
Q. How important, considering the significance especially to your team of this weekend, is a win like today? How important would a win for you or any of the teams, especially you, Jeff, since it's been a while since you won a points race, how important is that, especially this weekend?
JEFF BURTON: We have to win. Our team's about winning. You know, Richard makes it really clear to us in his actions and in his words, we're here to win. That's what we have to do.
You know, we put all our cars in position to do really well the first two events. You know, 31 in particular. We had a luncheon before the year kicked off. There was a video of all the wins. The 31 wasn't in that video. That's enough to piss you off, to be quite honest.
You know, it's important for us to win, it's important for our sponsors, it's important for Caterpillar, it's important for Chevrolet, all of our sponsors. It's important. That's why we wake up in the morning, to be part of a winning race team.
Q. Jeff, when the race ended on the cool-down lap, your spotter came over and said, I don't know if I can do this for 500 miles on Sunday. How concerned are you for the spotters lasting for up to four hours?
JEFF BURTON: He's all right. He's going to get some rest between now and then. That was our second event together. You know, he did a phenomenal job today. I was really impressed with the job he did. He really, really, really proved his merit today.
It's going to be hard. But you know what, it's plate racing, it's always hard. It's hard no matter what. He stepped up to the plate, figured out really, really quickly that he had to be spotting for two cars. He really did a great job.
I'm real proud of him. But, you know, we race 500 miles. That's what our jobs are. He'll be fine.
KERRY THARP: Richard, Jeff, congratulations and good luck on Sunday with the Daytona 500.
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