Originally written on Start 'N' Park Blog  |  Last updated 8/30/14
Jeff Burton, driver of the #31 Cheerios Chevorlet, met with members of the media at Phoenix International Raceway and discussed the performance of the new car on track at Phoenix, what he is looking forward to next week at Las Vegas and other topics. WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE NEW CAR HERE IN PHOENIX? “We fought a little bit of problems we didn’t think we would fight. We have been loose and that just wasn’t in our mindset. We thought we would come here and fight tight. We have fought loose most of the day. A little bit of surprise, but a surprise shouldn’t be a surprise with a new car and all new stuff. We are trying to adjust a little bit with it.” HOW ARE LAST YEAR’S CAR AND THIS YEAR’S CAR DIFFERENT FROM WHAT YOU’VE SEEN SO FAR? “Honestly, I think it is too early to say. I think we really need more time, more racing that kind of thing. Right now I think that they drive good. It’s not like they drive bad. No matter what the car is, no matter what the rules are, the people that do the better job with it, drive it better, set it up better, do better pit stops they are the ones that are going to win races. No matter what the car is that is what the focus has got to be. We are just a touch behind right now, but we feel like we can see where we need to be.” WHAT HAPPENED TO YOU LAST WEEK? “I was catching David Reutimann at a pretty high rate of speed and I went to go underneath him and he blocked me to the left. Then I went to go above him and he blocked me to the right. On that one it didn’t work out very well for us. We hit exceptionally hard. Blocking is part of plate racing. David reached out to me, apologized to me and said ‘I’m sorry it was my fault, I certainly didn’t mean to put you in that position.’ I know David didn’t. Plate racing puts you in a position to do things you wouldn’t normally do. That is kind of what it was. We just came out on the short end of the stick of it.” NOT THE FINISH THAT YOU WANTED LAST WEEK. HOW DO YOU BOUNCE BACK FROM THAT? “If in this sport every bad finish you have that is disaster then you are going to have a terribly long life. Jimmie Johnson wrecked the third or fourth lap last year. Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, a lot of big names wrecked early in the race. You can’t have your tail tucked between your legs coming to Phoenix you have just got to go race. I think the biggest thing you could do is worry about where you finish and you need to focus on what you need to do to finish well. If you focus on that you don’t have enough time to worry about all the other crap. Daytona is Daytona and next week Phoenix will be Phoenix and we will be on to (Las) Vegas. Obviously, you’ve got to have good finishes you can’t just keep writing them off, but the only way to do that is move forward and focus on what’s next.” WHAT DO YOU MAKE OF THE JEREMY CLEMENTS DECISION BY NASCAR? “It’s really difficult to comment on it because I don’t have a lot of facts. One thing for sure that I don’t like to do is I don’t like to talk without being educated about something. There are a lot of what if’s and a lot of stuff that is out there that you are having to make it up. You don’t have enough facts. Certainly, I don’t think NASCAR would suspend someone for something small. I don’t think they would. I don’t know what was said. I don’t know how it was said because we don’t have that information. Until I have that information it’s really hard to make a comment on it. I do want to get a little more information because I want to make sure I don’t do something wrong. It’s just hard to have an opinion because there is not enough information to have an opinion.” DO YOU FEEL FOR THESE NEXT COUPLE OF TRACKS COMING UP YOU GUYS SHOULD HAVE SOME MORE PRACTICE WITH THE NEW CAR? “I think (Las) Vegas we have a whole day. We’ve got a whole day of practice. I think that is good. I think having a little extra time out here would have been a cool thing. I think (Las) Vegas is good. They are giving us some more time at Texas I believe than they normally would. We do have a few more tests this year. Yeah, I think a little more time this week would have been a good thing. (Las) Vegas is a good idea. A little more time at California wouldn’t hurt anybody’s feelings. Giving more time at Bristol or Martinsville, those tracks are so unique to themselves I don’t think that necessarily is needed.” IT’S THE 5OTH YEAR OF RACING HERE AT PIR. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY AND BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT? “My favorite memory is me winning here twice. My biggest disappointment was the year it rained. I was sitting there running third or fourth and we pitted along with everybody else on the lead lap. It rained during that caution, we had weather radar, but you are in the desert you are thinking surely to God it’s not going to rain it out. Rusty Wallace I believe won the race in the rain. Everybody pitted under that caution for rain (laughs). That was probably the dumbest move that every race team in NASCAR made on that day. The last guy on the lead lap didn’t stay out. That was probably the most disappointing day.” WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE DONE AFTER LAST SATURDAY’S ACCIDENT IN DAYTONA? “I think there has to be a thorough investigation. I think the degree in which obviously people were injured that was a fluke accident. A car getting in the fence I don’t think at this point we can necessarily call it a fluke accident because we have seen over the last little bit of time we have seen several cars get airborne. (Brad) Keselowski and Carl Edwards at Talladega then you go back… Keselowski and Carl (Edwards) at Atlanta that car got up in the air. So I don’t want to say that getting in the air is a fluke. I think we need to work harder on keeping the cars on the ground, which this car, honestly, has a lot more work done on that. As far as the fencing you have to stop and do research and understand how to do it better. Everybody wants to fix it today, but the right way to fix it is through a thorough analysis. Do a thorough analysis, get all the information then make a decision. I think everybody, meaning well, wants to try to say here is what you need to do, but until you really understand it, it is hard to know what to do. I think it also reminds us that, and I’ve said this for years, safety is not a goal. It’s not something you can reach. It’s a continuing effort. It’s a continuing mind set, it’s a continuing desire to be better at it. You can’t say ‘okay we are here’ and move on. By no means am I saying NASCAR has done that. I think NASCAR deserves a tremendous amount of credit. I think they have led motorsports as it relates to safety over the last 10 years there is no question about that. In no way am I saying NASCAR has been not being aggressive, but it is a reminder that we have to continue to be. It’s a reminder that we have to always be looking to be better. We can never get to the point where we say ‘okay we are there, now we get to relax’. You can’t have that mindset when it comes to safety.” DOES IT GO BEYOND JUST BUILDING THE CARS TO THE SPECIFICATIONS NASCAR GIVES YOU? “I said it a long time ago, that I believe this is a community activity. When NASCAR wasn’t as proactive as they are today, I was standing up saying that we as a community need to do a better job. Meaning the teams, the drivers, NASCAR, the sponsors, the manufacturers…we collectively need to do a better job. I said that years ago, and got told I was crazy, and had a lot of press given to me. But, that is still true today. We as drivers can’t look around the industry and say ‘Well, y’all are supposed to take care of us. We’ve got to be proactive. We’ve got to be pushing the ball. Car owners have to be pushing the ball. Team members have to be pushing the ball. NASCAR…it takes all of us. We can’t just give. We have to be willing to give of our time. We have to be willing to give money. We have to be willing to give effort to try to make a continuing effort if we want racing to be safer. I think we all do. I’ve heard some people say racing isn’t exciting because it is safer. That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard in my life. We as a community have to make sure we stay together and work, and don’t just put it on NASCAR’s shoulder. I think that is unfair to put it on the tracks and NASCAR. I think that is unfair. I think we have to do it together.” WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GOING BACK TO LAS VEGAS? “I think the day of testing is going to be real cool. I think having an opportunity working on this car on a race weekend rather than a test is going to be really good for everybody. And then seeing how they race. Seeing how they respond in the race. We’re going to try to jump to conclusions based on Thursday’s practice. But the fact of the matter is, until Sunday is over, we’re really not going to know. Going to through that process to me is going to be a good time. It’s going to be fun. I’m looking forward to that getting started. The mile-and-a-half tracks is the place where this car I think will excel.” THIS NEW AIR TITAN TRACK DRYING TECHNOLOGY WE’VE YET TO SEE IN ACTION. ASSUMING WE DO AT SOME POINT, HOW IMPORTANT IS IT JUST TO KEEP FANS ENGAGED, AND I GUESS EVEN THE TV AUDIENCE? “I’ll be honest, I would never have thought of that, but we need to dry the tracks quicker. But when you do, and they went out and did that, then it makes a lot of sense when you think about it. That’s part of my point about doing things as a community. If all of us ban together, we come up with better ideas. I do know that the Daytona 500 last year through Twitter talking to fans, the impact that had on them, not being able to stay, that’s a big deal. That’s bad for our sport. Anything we can do to lessen that opportunity is the right thing. Having said that, I wouldn’t have thought about it. I wouldn’t have thought well hell, we need to find a better way. I just wouldn’t have. There’s no question that’s a positive. No question.”

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