Friday Special Drivers Meeting at Michigan International Speedway- Transcripy June 14, 2008Posted by claireblang in Drivers, Trackside, Transcripts.
Tags: claire b lang, jeff burton, NASCAR, News and Media, Sprint Cup Series, XM Radio
Image via WikipediaHere’s something I thought you’d like. As I told you on the air yesterday, NASCAR held a special driver’s meeting to address the Sprint Cup Drivers in private in the garage. After qualifying was rained out – Jeff Burton talked about the meeting. I thought you’d like to read exactly what he said. Burton is always excellent at explaining things – and so I thought this would be interesting to all of you:
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 AT&T
YOUR MEDIA AVAILABILITY WAS BEFORE THE MEETING THIS MORING. WHAT WAS YOUR IMPRESSION? WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE MORE OPPORTUNITIES LIKE THAT FOR YOU GUYS TO MEET WITH NASCAR IN THAT MANNER? “Well, as I have said before, I think communication is important. I don’t think drivers have any power, but we do hold that information that could be valuable to NASCAR. Of course, NASCAR holds a tremendous amount of information that can be valuable to us. A lot of times, we don’t fully understand, we are complaining about something, but we don’t fully understand how NASCAR got to where they are or for that matter, how the teams even got to where we are. Drivers today, including myself, are much more apart from the race team; apart from the mechanics of what a race car is all about and how we build race cars, than ever before because of engineering and because of the way things work. So I think that communication is really important. We at times complain about things and we think we are the only ones who understand it, when in fact, other people do understand it. There are also times that we see things that people don’t understand. So I think it is a good idea to communicate and I think it is a good idea that we were able to listen to NASCAR. They can explain things to us and they need to listen to us and we can explain things to them too. Whether we need a formal setting to do that, I don’t know. But I do believe that communication is the key to any business. I think our athletes can provide some insight that NASCAR could use to the fans benefit.
“I guess you could have heard in today’s conversation, you could have heard whatever you wanted to hear. I believe a lot of people knew what they were going to hear when they went in there and that is what they heard. I bet if you asked every driver what they heard, they would probably say something different. What I heard, was ‘Hey look, let’s don’t forget that things aren’t all that bad and let’s also don’t forget we can make things better, let’s work to find a way to make them better and let’s communicate. Let’s work hard to make things better.’
“You know it is a frustrating thing, because our perception, teams and drivers perception is that NASCAR gave us this car and we had little input in it and you know, that is true. But, it falls on us to make it work. So, when you have a tough day and things don’t work or whatever, then you want to point the finger at them and say ‘Well, it is their fault.’ It is our job to just do it better than everybody else.
“I have told you guys to begin with that I don’t care what we run. I don’t care if it is the COT, whatever, I don’t care. The only thing I know is that it is my job to drive it better than everybody else and it is my team’s job to set it up better than everybody elses. That is what we do, it is our job. When we don’t, we can’t blame that on NASCAR because somebody wins the race. I think we lose focus on that and I do think that NASCAR has become the point of contention for everybody pointing their finger and saying it’s their fault. When in fact, there are some issues we could help make better.”
WAS THIS A MEETING MORE OF A REMINDER OF THE PARTNERSHIP THAT A DRIVER, THE SANCTIONING BODY AND THE WHOLE SPORT HAS WITH EACH OTHER OR WAS NASCAR ASKING ITS ATHLETES FOR MORE HELP AND SUPPORT? “I got both and I got more than that. I got a reminder that this sport is bigger than any one person. This proven to be over time bigger than any one person. We got a reminder that we are all in this together. We got a reminder that is we have got a problem there is a way to go about it. I don’t think there is anything wrong with speaking to the media about the issues we are dealing with. I think that our fans deserve to know what we are dealing with. I think there is a way to do it that is constructive. I do believe that NASCAR has become…we all point our finger at NASCAR anytime something happens.
“I mean, how many times has a driver speeded on pit road and said “Yea, I did it.’ (LAUGHS) They’re the…I am raising two children. I have a 13 year-old and a seven year-old and every time I tell them to do something, they don’t want to do it. Every time I tell them they did something wrong, they say they didn’t do it wrong. It is the same. They (NASCAR) is our authority. They are the authority figure. When we question them all the time, because that is human nature I guess.
“I thought today’s meeting was kind of a reminder of that we are all in this together. It was a reminder that if you have a problem, let’s be constructive. It was reminder that don’t think that anyone person is bigger than the sport. Mike (Helton) showed his openness and willingness to look at finding a way to always make things better.
“To be honest, I watch the races from my seat. I don’t watch them from those seats (points to grandstands), ok. We have had some races this year that I didn’t think were very good races. We have had some races this year that I thought were really good races. I betcha if we went back 15 years ago, we could say the same thing. I think what is going on today is because the car of tomorrow has received… the car of tomorrow was kind of thrust upon us, this is what you are going to run. It was all new, so anything that didn’t work, we pointed the finger and said this is a piece of junk. This car does this, this car does that, this car does this. I think it has gotten to the point it hasn’t been constructive. I hasn’t produced better the car or for the racing. So, we are at a point where something needs to change. I think that NASCAR understands that and I think, not in the sense that the car needs a change, but the attitude about the car needs to change. The car doesn’t drive as good as the old car. I mean, it doesn’t. But, that doesn’t make it wrong. It is different than the old car, that doesn’t make it wrong.
“What matters is what is the quality of the race. I believe racing is like any other sport. If anybody thinks that every single race we are going to go out and have a three-wide battle for the lead on the last lap, you are mistaken. By the way, I watched the NBA finals the other night that was a blowout. It is sports. Sometimes people get on a role and they kick everybody’s butt because they are going a better job.
“Listen, I led every lap of a 300 mile race in New Hampshire, I led every lap. That wasn’t celebrated. It wasn’t ‘Wow, that was a history making deal, it was great, it was this, it was that’, it was boring. The race was boring. The part about history being made and all of that, that meant nothing. The only thing that mattered was that nobody passed for the lead, so the race was boring. That the world we live in. Every race isn’t going be what somebody thinks is a great race. Not everybody is going to think that every race is a great race. We have good races this year; we have had races that weren’t so good. Then people talk about in the good ole days, just bring you some of those films out and we will show you the good ole days, I mean.
“We have as good of racing today as we have ever had, on average, that is my opinion. I may be wrong, but my view is that on average, we have as good of racing as we have ever had. And…this car is still an infant. Think about it, this is the first time we have had this car at Michigan. It is the first time. We are going to be better when we come back next time. We are going to be better with it when we come back the next year.
“I think the thing that the teams and the drivers have become frustrated about is that NASCAR hasn’t been willing to change anything about the car. If you go back to six years ago, when they changed something every four months, that drove you nuts too.
“So, NASCAR is in kind of a tough spot. If they don’t change anything they ridiculed, if they change stuff, they get ridiculed. They are in a touch spot. I respect that. I do believe that we could make the car a little better. That we can make it drive just a little bit better, it might produce better racing, that is my opinion. Although, I don’t think the racing we have today is bad racing. That is the way I view it.
“I don’t sit up there though (points to the grandstands). I don’t have that perspective.”
Personally, I like what Burton said about every driver reading the message from the meeting the way he heard it. It makes sense. Like I said, Jeff Burton is a good one to ask about what was said. I hope the above gives you more information to discuss on this topic.
Enjoy the day !