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Postcard from the media center: Jeff Burton on a NASCAR driver organization & drug testing policy April 12, 2008

Posted by claireblang in Drivers, NASCAR.
Tags: , , , , ,

Jeff Burton (JEFF BURTON, DRIVER OF THE NO. 31 AT&T IMPALA SS) was very vocal Friday when discussing his thoughts about whether a driver’s organization is needed in NASCAR. While answering questions regarding the latest topic on whether random drug testing is needed in the sport – the question was has Burton changed his mind – an advocate for there not being a need for such an organization in the past. Here is his entire answer – worth the read:

Jeff Burton: “I haven’t changed my opinion about whether we should have an organization. My fear in the drivers having an organization is that a group of drivers with power isn’t necessarily in our sports best interest. NASCAR’s willingness to listen to drivers is in our best interest. But a group of drivers that could, because they are given power, demand things, that could manipulate things for their benefit rather than the sports benefit, I don’t think is a good situation for our sport. While we’re talking about drug testing policy, one of the reasons that the drug testing policies in other sports have been really lax is that the players, the players unions and the players unions representatives put up huge fights about when they could be tested, how they can be tested and not only that what would happen when they tested positive. A few years ago when you got tested positive for marijuana in the NBA you kept playing. There was no penalty, there was nothing and that was because of the players union, well one of the reasons was the players union. That’s an example of how I don’t believe that a group of athletes that have power over a sport, that can force the sport into decisions that aren’t good for the sport, that’s my fear. If we were living in poverty and we were living lives that where we were highly underpaid, we were mistreated poorly, we were miners in the early 1900’s then a union would be a productive thing because their conditions were so deplorable that they had to have force. They had to have a group in order to get just everyday ordinary things accomplished. We don’t have that. We’re all well compensated, we’re in a sport today that’s very safety-minded. We aren’t in a perfect sport. There are things that could be better but, as seen by me, having a group of drivers that have power is not in the best interest of those guys sitting in the seats. That’s what I believe has happened in other sports. I may be wrong about it, but that’s what I see. I don’t see how the players union, the players union in major league baseball just looks so powerful and so many decisions have been made that are counter-productive to what’s good for the game. How many people quit watching baseball because of strikes? How many people have not gone back to watching hockey because of strikes? Those kind of things are when a union is counter-productive and that would be my fear.

“Here’s the other side to my comment. A group with no power really is no group. It really isn’t very productive. It would be very hard in a non-formal fashion for a group of drivers or all the drivers to get together and be productive because once we all get together we have an association or whatever you want to call it, what’s the recourse for us? If we say we want to do this and NASCAR doesn’t do it, what do we do? I believe that our athletes need to be able to go to NASCAR, have a conversation with NASCAR, NASCAR listen and then make the decision. Ultimately its NASCAR’s job, everything that revolves around our sport it’s up to them to make sure fans are in the stands. They have a broader perspective. Do I wish NASCAR would listen to us a little more sometimes, I do. If you sit down with them and they walk you through a decision, then you kind of okay that makes some sense even though I disagree with it, it makes some sense. There’s logic there. NASCAR doesn’t make decisions with no logic put to it. That’s my stance on it, that’s the way I feel.”

Burton also talked about his thoughts on a drug testing policy:

“I’ll be frank about it, I wish we tested more. I like the policy. I like the way the policy reads once you’ve tested positive. It’s one of the most strict policies in sports. I’m really happy with that, but I think we ought to test more. It is an interesting dynamic in NASCAR because I don’t work for NASCAR. NASCAR doesn’t pay me, the race tracks don’t pay me, Richard Childress pays me. I’m an employee of Richard Childress Racing or actually I’m an employee of my own but I’m subcontracted or however you want to say it to Richard Childress Racing. So it’s a little complex because who is responsible for testing me, is it Richard Childress Racing or is it NASCAR? I think that makes it a little more difficult, it complicates the issue. Ultimately though, NASCAR does make the rules and they do enforce the rules. They are the ones that penalize you 25 points for being high, they’re the ones that penalize you 100 points for having the wrong wing on the car or whatever, so ultimately they are probably the ones that have to penalize us for illegal drug use as well. I guess the way I look at is that everything you do has a negative side to it. What’s the negative to testing too much and what’s the negative to not testing enough? If you’re gonna look at it like that, you rather screw up by testing too much than screw up by not testing enough. I’d like to see us test a little more. I know people get tested, because people have got caught. I guess I’m honored, I’ve never been tested (laughs), I feel like I should be. Maybe, I don’t know, I’ve heard a lot of people say they’ve never been tested. I don’t know. Again, I just think if we’re gonna mess up, let’s mess up by testing too much. Let’s be real aggressive about it and two years from now when something does go down we can stand together and say look. One of the things I was talking about earlier, and I’ve read all the articles, not all of them but I’ve read some of the articles and seen some of the stuff on television. We have a unique position here, every driver I’ve heard talk about testing, said yeah let’s do it. There’s no opposition, well I’m not going to say that. There’s not a lot of opposition, I’m sure there’s some opposition but there’s very little opposition. That’s a unique position and I think that’s a good thing.”

If you have a comment on what Jeff Burton said – register it below. I have posted his entire answer so that you can read it for yourself and get the most complete and accurate version of his comments on these issues.

Your thoughts on his comments? Send them to me at ClaireBMail [at] ClaireBLang.com -or- comment below.

Claire B
Media Center
Phoenix International Raceway


1. williamsandhyattblog - April 12, 2008

Great stuff and thanks for posting it!
If there is testing in the future, it will most likely come from the team owners themselves as a condition for employment. I’ve got no problem with that and agree with Jeff that there is no need for a driver union at this time.
Ryan Hyatt

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