Joe Gibbs Racing driver Harrison Burton was made available to media at Auto Club Speedway:
HARRISON BURTON, No. 20 DEX Imaging Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
How would you classify the start of your season?
“I would classify our start as good not great. We’ve run well and finished pretty well, but I feel like we still need that last step to win. I feel like we’ve come really close to that. Hopefully this weekend we can turn it from good to great. Our team has really high standards for ourselves and our job is to win races. Hopefully we can do that here this weekend and put our Toyota Supra in victory lane.”
Have you run this race track on simulators?
“Absolutely. This is a really unique track. From what I’ve seen, it seems really, really fun. I’m excited. I’ve spent a lot of time in the Toyota simulator and a lot of time on iRacing at home. Just kind of preparing and trying to get a feel for everything. This place is so big that if you fire off and you miss where you have to drive into or where you have to g get back on the gas, whatever it may be, if you miss it by a little bit, it adds up super-fast. It’s like Pocono where a small mistake can add up to a half-second in a heartbeat. Just being really, really solid when you fire off the truck here is really important for lap time. Tires are important here as well. Make everyone feel better when you’re fast off the truck and that’s pretty important.”
Are the seams able to simulate?
“It’s crazy how much detail they put into especially the Toyota simulator. The port-a-potties are in the same spot on pit road. It’s weird. You go down and they try to mimic everything that happens on the race track whether it’s bumps or whatever it may be. Losing grip across seams, getting stuck on seams, hitting the seams with the left side making you loose, right sides making you tight and that kind of thing. The seams are definitely an obstacle to get over, but if you use them right, they can be a tool too. It’s smart to have them in there and be able to practice using them to help you turn or tighten you up if you’re really loose or whatever it may be. That’s pretty useful in the Toyota simulator for sure.”
How is the communication with the team?
“Every driver has their own scale. We use a one-to-10 scale. If I’m a one out of 10 loose, it means I need a super small adjustment. If it’s a 10, I’m going to wreck. That’s the scale I use and when you talk with your crew chief and your engineers and your mechanics about that and you break down every part of the corner. You talk about early entry, entry, center – you use a fraction scale and I’m not really good in math so sometimes I struggle with fractions. Like 5/8 of the way through the corner is pretty important normally so as a driver it’s your job to make it as understandable for the crew chief as possible. With guys as smart as people like Ben Beshore that I have as my crew chief. My job is just to paint the picture for him and let him do his job. He’s super smart. I grew up racing Late Models and I know a lot about cars like that, but I’m not at the level of an engineer type person like him. I’m trying to get there, but I’m definitely just letting him take the reins for sure.”
What is the most challenging part of this race track?
“The seams are part of it. I think the biggest part is how much a small mistake can lead to time loss here. It’s similar to Pocono, to Michigan where if you don’t get a good run off that corner, you have a super long time to pay for it. As a driver you have to be really perfect to be consistently fast here. The seams are a big part of that because you can get caught up on the seam and get caught on the right-front and just get stuck in it or whatever it may be. It slows you down by a half-second just like that. You don’t really feel like you did anything super different, but as the driver it’s your job to be super perfect and super precise to make yourself really good here.”
Are you looking forward to the challenge at this track?
“This place looks like so much fun, I’m excited. I watched a lot of Kyle Busch’s in-car camera from last year. He’s sliding around sideways and driving the heck out of this thing. Hopefully it’s like that for me. It looks like a super-big Iowa, which Iowa is one of my favorite race tracks. Hopefully it’s like that and you get to slide around and things like that. Makes me pumped up.”
What do you think of the bounty around Kyle Busch and the Truck Series?
“It’s going to be hard to beat Kyle (Busch), I know that much. I ran trucks last year and ran second to him for a lot of laps at Atlanta especially. I remember thinking, ‘Well, I’m about a tenth better than the field and he’s about three-tenths better than me so this is pretty impressive.’ Ran second most of that day. Didn’t finish second, but Chase (Elliott) is going to have his work cut out for him there and (Kyle) Larson is going to have his work cut out for him at Miami. Kyle hasn’t raced Miami in a truck in a long time because of the Playoff schedule so that might be — Chase has a steeper hill to climb than Larson.”
What are your thoughts heading to Phoenix next weekend?
“I’m excited for that. I love that race track. I ran pretty well there in a truck a couple times. Ran ARCA West a time there so I have some experience there. It’s one of my favorite race tracks. I get to race Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch, which is going to be awesome. That’s exciting for me. I know a lot of people say they don’t want to the Cup guys to come down and race, but for me as a driver that is the coolest opportunity in the world because that’s your time to prove yourself. That’s your time to go out and make stuff happen. I’m excited, bring them on, let’s do it.”
Who do you lean on for advice?
“My dad is obviously a good resource. He’s right down the hallway from me and I live with him so that’s nice. The convenience level is there. He’s a great race car driver and he’s really smart. I use him, I use my team, my organization, my driver coach, Blake Koch who ran good here in Xfinity. I have so many resources that it’s really easy. Everywhere I go whether it’s at home, at the shop, in the simulator or at the gym, I have so many more opportunities to learn than some people. If I don’t utilize all of them, I don’t think I’m doing my job to prepare as a race car driver. I think I use them all. I try and use every resource that I have.”
Toyota Racing PR