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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Stock Car Racing Topics:  Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series: Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil

Jeff Burton
November 15, 2009


THE MODERATOR: We're joined by today's second-place finisher, Jeff Burton. Jeff, tell us about your run today.
JEFF BURTON: Obviously we're real happy with the way we ran. We had a long way to come. I did not a very good job on Friday qualifying, got us behind. Made a lot of spots up early. We made a lot of spots up in the pits, too. We had one pit stop early that wasn't good, but the rest of them were really good. I picked up a lot of spots.
We had the car to win the race, we just didn't have the track position to win the race. That goes back to what we did on Friday. I got to get better at that. I'm 42, still learning. I will get better at it.
We're building on something. We're working hard on our equipment, working hard on our communication, working hard on paying attention to how I drive. Everybody's looking at themselves in the mirror, and the results are showing.
THE MODERATOR: We'll take questions for Jeff.

Q. This is the first time you've gotten three top-10 finishes in a row. Your pace has picked up. What has been the difference? How much optimism does it give you for '10?
JEFF BURTON: I'm very optimistic. What we can't do is sit tight. We can't look at what we're doing now and say we're good enough. We didn't win the race today. We're certainly making strides. We certainly were capable of winning today. We've got to improve this winter. If we don't, we won't be good enough. That's what we did this past winter.
I'm excited about running second. I'm excited about the way we ran, without a doubt. We were really fast all day long. We passed a lot of cars. All that's real promising. But, you know, we did finish second. It's important for us to remind ourselves of that, keep working.

Q. Talk about your relationship with Todd Berrier. It seems like the chemistry has clicked from the start.
JEFF BURTON: Yeah, it has. We both have a lot of respect for each other. We came into this thing expecting to perform well. I have a lot of faith in Todd. I think Todd has a lot of faith in me. We're very blunt, very upfront, very honest. We just go to work. He's real good about reminding me about things I need to be reminded of. He's everything I thought he was and more.
I'm real proud to be working with him. There's a lot of things that go into this. Todd is pushing a lot of buttons, making a lot of stuff happen. Scott is doing the same thing. Scott is working, he's doing an incredible job, a really tough job. I'm just proud of everybody. We've got a lot of stuff going on right now. We're turning a lot of rocks over and seeing what crawls out from underneath it. I'm proud of our attitude. If our attitude stays like this, we can be successful in the future.

Q. You mentioned in your opening remarks you didn't have track position. If you had a better starting position, would it have made a difference? Given the context of the overall season and where you started, was this one of your better second-place finishes in your career?
JEFF BURTON: We restarted sixth with a hundred laps to go or something. It's hard to say that we didn't have the track position we needed at that point. We weren't as good that run as we were the last run, and the 48 got out on all of us. The pit sequence, we gained some on him, then we were faster than they were.
You know, I don't know. It always helps to race against the guys that are leading the race because it enables you to compare yourself against them. You should be able to win the race with a hundred to go starting sixth. I know my numbers are off a little bit, but it's close. It's hard to use that as an excuse, as far as track position.
But what you lose is the opportunity to compare yourself against a guy that has a shot to win the race. You get a little bit fooled about how good you are when you have maybe the fastest car on the track and you're running 15th because you're beating everybody around you. Then when you get to the top, the top guys, it gets harder. I think that's the biggest disadvantage.
I think this is fair to say, that this is the best we've run all year. Last week, you know, I know it was ninth, but I'm telling you, we won that race last week with what we had for a backup. The way I felt, what we made happen with that car, we won that race. I know that's hard for you guys to understand, but that was an incredible effort last week.
This week, you know, we honestly had a shot to win this race. So I think this for sure is the best second-place finish we had. We led a lot in Vegas and finished third. We had a shot to win that race earlier in the year. That race and this race were our best shots with the exception of the superspeedway races.

Q. What can you say about the 48, after being involved in that crash last weekend, coming back and winning today? With a few more laps, could you have caught him in the end?
JEFF BURTON: I don't know. We were catching him. I don't know. He has a way of finding a little bit of speed when he needs to. You know, it's hard to know. I'm sure those last three or four laps he understood the time difference between us and him. He didn't have to go get him all he could go get. I don't know. It would have been nice to have about 20 more to find out. But we have what we had, he had what he had. He won the race.

Q. You've been around long enough to see some great drivers, including Earnhardt Sr. At this point, where do you think Jimmie stands? A lot of people don't give him credit because he's on the best team, best crew chief.
JEFF BURTON: They said the same thing about Earnhardt, said the same thing about Petty, said the same thing about Jeff Gordon. They say the same thing about everybody that wins championships: he's driving for the best team. I don't think your generation ever gives you the credit you deserve. I think the next generation will give Jimmie the credit he deserves.
He does it differently than Earnhardt did it. Earnhardt did it real aggressively. It was just different. Jimmie does it real smooth. Jeff did it like that, too. You know, I don't know. It's hard for me to compare drivers, especially one that I'm still racing against. But I don't think that there's any way you can dismiss his ability. I don't think you can just say, Well, if anybody was driving for the 48, they could have that success, because, you know, he does have teammates that are at Hendrick, and he's pretty good.
I have no way of judging, but it would be hard not to put him up near the top of the list.

Q. Momentum is one of those sort of intangibles that some drivers give a lot of credit to and some not as much. Where do you fall on this spectrum? How important is momentum going into the off-season?
JEFF BURTON: I think 'momentum' is the most overused word in all of sports. I think momentum is created because of success, not success because of momentum. When you have momentum, it's because you're doing the things that it takes to be successful. By the way, you have the opposite of momentum, too, that's when you're not doing the things it takes to be successful.
Obviously confidence is important. When you get on a roll, you're doing the things you need to do, it's because you can, it's because your team is capable. There's not a great being that says, Okay, now you guys feel all good and happy, so now you can go run well. It's more about what you can do in your car.
Success creates momentum. I don't care who you are, what you are, if you're not sitting in a car fast enough, you're not capable of driving it, you'll never have momentum because you don't have the stuff it takes to build momentum.
THE MODERATOR: Jeff, thank you and congratulations.

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