|Jeff Burton says other drivers have to have more respect for each other, especially at road courses like the one at Watkins Glen.(Getty Images)
Veteran NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Jeff Burton has slammed his fellow competitors for unprofessional behaviour on the race track.
Burton, driver of the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, said that he was especially “embarrassed” by the way Sprint Cup drivers — supposedly the best stock car racers in the world — race at road course tracks like Watkins Glen International.
He said re-starts at the Glen on Sunday for the Helluva Good Sour Cream Dip at the Glen — where 43 cars will line up two-by-two in back of the pace car — will look like amateur hour.
“Everything that happens always happens on a restart,’’ Burton said. “It’s so competitive today that we as Cup drivers look so unprofessional on road course restarts.
“We don’t look like professional race car drivers, we look like amateurs that have been told ‘it doesn’t matter where you finish or what happens.’ It’s ridiculous.”
While Burton said that where once road course ringers like Toronto’s Ron Fellows towered in skill over Cup regulars, he now believes that NASCAR drivers have gotten more skilled on road courses, but it has not improved the on-track action.
“Our professionalism has gone down over the years on road courses,” he said. “Our skills have improved. We have more skilled road course racers today than we have before, but we are losing our ability to race each other and race each other with respect and willingness to give an inch in return for an inch later in the race.
“It’s kind of embarrassing for our sport. I just don’t think we do a very good job and we could do much better.”
Burton said the mentality seems to be that it is okay to wreck another competitor if it means advancing your position on the track.
“When someone dives underneath you, gets on your door and they use you, that’s one thing,” he said. “It’s a completely different thing to just wreck each other. We’ve moved into this thing where people just get wrecked.
“The attitude is that it’s just a road course. Well that’s just not right. We need to take responsibility for our actions.”
Not everyone agrees with Burton, however.
Five-time Watkins Glen winner Tony Stewart said it was his opinion that the beating and banging will be toned down from what happened a month ago at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., (Sprint Cup’s other road course).
“It doesn’t normally tend to be,” he said of crashes at the Glen. “The Glen — just the overall speeds at the track— are a lot greater.
“I don’t think you’ll see near as much contact as what we saw at Sonoma. At Sonoma it just seems to get worse every time we go there. It seems like at the Glen you’re running a lot faster and the guys don’t want to put themselves in that position.”
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