10 Questions: Jeff Burton
The South Boston, Virginia, native has taken the checkered flag 21 times in 16 years of rubbing fenders with stock car's best. But victory is nothing new to Burton. He started racing at the age of 7, capturing two state go-kart championships along the way.
So the driver of the number 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet is fast. But is he quick enough to steal the hat off Richard Petty's head...?
A great deal, to be honest. The teams have nutrition programs for the crew. Drivers tend to do their own program with a nutritionist. There's been a huge emphasis on diet over the last three or four years.
2. Ever tempted to cheat on the diet?
All the time. I was coming home from Martinsville last weekend and my kids were hungry. I stopped and ordered a double cheeseburger with large fries.
3. You know, old time drivers got to eat and drink whatever they wanted. Are you sorry you missed out?
I like this era much better. I'm a firm believer that the good old days are right now.
4. Does what you eat really matter when it comes to racing?
Well, short of any problems you might have--gastrointestinal problems--what you eat on a particular day doesn't. But the key is, this is a marathon. We have 36 races, plus I drive in the Nationwide Series--so that's 50 races this year, which means 50 qualifying sessions and practice. It takes a toll on you. What you eat on a particular day isn't important. But what you eat over six months affects you. Cheat a little--that's OK. Cheat all the time and it will hurt you.
5. In your short off-season, do you hit the junk food?
I'm more disciplined in the off-season. During the season I feel like I've earned it, I'm entitled to a break. And my kids are a bad influence on me. I end up at Cold Stone Creamery more than I care to admit.
6. Is there a track you'd love to drive someday?
I grew up doing this. I mean, I'm a stock car guy. I've had the benefit of driving all the tracks I wanted to drive growing up. I guess Monaco would be interesting, because of the history and the town. But I've driven Daytona, Darlington, Lowe's Motor Speedway, Richmond, Bristol. That's the heritage of our sport.
7. Ever tempted to sneak up on Richard Petty and steal his hat?
He gave me a hat one time. It doesn't look good on me. But he gave it to me; I didn't steal it. You don't mess with royalty. Good to be the king, huh?
8. You guys are so good at mentioning sponsors. But if we were talking about yard work...?
Oh, that's easy. I go out to work on my lawn with my CAT equipment. It gets hot so I drink Coke Zero. Finish up and before dinner I take a Prilosec OTC. Then hop in my Chevy and take off. You threw me a softball.
9. What did you think of Talladega Nights?
Um, I was less than impressed.
10. Do you have the best job in the world?
There wouldn't be a real long line of people with a better job than me--at least for me, maybe not for someone else. When I look around, I think there are other things I could do well, but there's nothing better.