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NASCAR Greats Share Insights Into the Sport
Aired September 14, 2007 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GLENN BECK, HOST (voice-over): Seventy-five million fans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, man, what a mess out here.
BECK: Three billion dollars worth of annual merchandise.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here they come. Checkered flag!
BECK: And of course, a serious need for speed. Circling the track at nearly 200 miles per hour, it`s no wonder NASCAR is the fastest growing sport in the nation. Join me for an incredible hour with two of NASCAR`s fastest drivers as they prepare to Race for the Chase.
BECK: Yes, well, here they are, Matt Kenseth and Jeff Burton. They are gearing up for the Race for the Chase, kind of like the playoffs for NASCAR. I`m already over my head. I don`t -- I want to be completely honest with you guys. I`m not a sports fan at all. And so I know nothing about sports.
One of the sports that I would like to do is NASCAR. I`ve wanted to go to Daytona forever. I just never get around to it. I saw the Indy 500 I don`t know how many years ago. It`s the most incredible thing I`ve ever seen. I don`t know how you guys drive 200 miles an hour for four hours.
JEFF BURTON, NASCAR DRIVER: We just close our eyes. That`s what I do.
MATT KENSETH, NASCAR DRIVER: I`m glad you know nothing about it, so we can tell you whatever.
BECK: Yes. You just make it all up. Yes. I just know that your clothes have advertising. I`m thinking I`ve got to -- that would make a great jacket for me.
BURTON: You`ve got plenty of room.
BECK: That`s a bad thing, isn`t it? Oh, we`re going to rumble tonight.
BURTON: I`m having fun already.
BECK: Let me -- you know, one of the reasons why I -- I like NASCAR and I like you guys in particular. What I do know is that you are both just decent guys. It seems to be about the race. So many sports now, it`s just -- it`s about the money. It`s the -- everybody`s a thug. And am I wrong?
KENSETH: Not everybody.
BECK: Well, no but I mean, that`s what it seems like. I mean, how many sports do we have massive corruption or spousal abuse and, you know, dog fighting and everything else.
BURTON: Yes, Matt and I are both sports fans. We both like the NFL and other sports, as well. And we -- honestly, if you look at other sports, it is a little frustrating to watch a few people kind of drag other sports down. I mean, most of the people in sports are good people. But it only takes a few to make it look like it`s not. And we`ve seen that with other sports.
But that keeps up, honestly, you know, more on the straight line as corporate America. I mean, we are -- we are sponsored by Fortune 500 companies, companies that hold us to a high standard. And that benefits all of NASCAR. And, you know, they`re just not going to put up with it. They`re not going to take, you know, athletes that represent their companies, not behaving the way they want them to behave.
BECK: Why not? I mean, you have -- you have sports in other...
BURTON: But if you play -- yes, but if you play -- if you play in the NFL, you work for your coach, and you work for the team owner. You don`t work for AT&T. You don`t work for, you know, large corporations. And you...
BECK: You do -- I mean, you have Nike.
BURTON: I mean, in a round about way you are, but you don`t answer to them the way we answer. I mean, when we walk out of our doors, we represent every employee and every customer of the companies that we represent.
And if you look at -- if you look at a football player, when you see Brett Favre, you don`t look at the -- he`s the Green Bay man. You don`t -- you don`t think about the companies that he represents. And not every athlete in the NFL represents the company. Every race car driver represents corporate America. And that`s a huge difference.
KENSETH: We can`t race without our sponsors. They can play football without their endorsements.
KENSETH: You know, we can`t race without our sponsors, and that is a big part of it.
BECK: Do you get -- do you get a say: "I don`t want that sponsor"? Do you as the driver, do you -- have you ever -- has anything ever been on your jacket that you`ve gone -- and you don`t have to name names, but anything ever gone on your jacket or ever, ever somebody wanted to put something on your jacket and you`re like "I can`t do that"?
KENSETH: Not really. I`ve been very fortunate with that. I`ve been sponsored by Du-All, which is a division of Black N Decker, for my whole Nextel Cup career. And I`ve got to know them guys, and they`re -- they`re kind of the same as me, you know. They`re all, you know, blue jean guys. They`re working on the job sites. Real easy guys to get along with and talk to.
BECK: If I said to you -- if I said to you, though, you now have to drive the Snuggle car, you have to drive the little Snuggle fabric softener car, would you say, "I -- that`s not man enough for me. I can`t do it"?
KENSETH: His brother had several comments -- comments on his car two weeks ago.
BURTON: Fabric softeners and stuff. I mean...
BECK: But he didn`t have to be Snuggle -- with Snuggle Bear on the hood. That product. Yes.
Somebody said to be earlier...
KENSETH: Wait a second.
BECK: Yes. The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) car, right?
Somebody said to me earlier today that -- and I don`t mean any disrespect here, because I corrected them. They said I had a hard time looking at NASCAR guys as athletes. And I said, "Have you ever driven a long -- at 55 miles per hour. Have you ever driven a long distance?" I am so locked up by the end. I can`t imagine driving four straight hours at 200 miles an hour. What is that like to your body?
KENSETH: I think every athlete`s different. I think define that however you want. Obviously, most of us aren`t in shape like a football player or a basketball player. But I`m pretty sure I could play 36 holes of golf. You know, I mean, everybody says Tiger Woods is an athlete.
So I mean, everything -- everything is different. You know, we have to sit in the car for four hours. You have to be mentally sharp for four hours. It`s very hot in there. You`ve got to be conditioned for the heat and be ready for that.
So I think that we are athletes. We`re just, you know, different than other sports.
BECK: Do you lose weight?
KENSETH: The goal is not -- not to lose weight. You know, you want to replenish all your fluids. So I actually did a study with Gatorade a few years back, where I figured out how much I needed to drink to...
BECK: This is a plug. This is yet another plug, isn`t it?
KENSETH: I did this study with Gatorade a few years ago. And I drink enough Gatorade where, when I`m done with the race, I want to weigh the same as when I started the race. You want to replace all fluids that you`re losing in sweat.
BECK: So you have, like -- like the big cup holders.
KENSETH: Gatorade and Cardasas (ph). There`s another plug for you.
BECK: You have a drinking system?
KENSETH: Yes, Gatorade car drinking system. This one holds, like 100 ounces of cold Gatorade. And it`s right by your helmet so you can have it whenever you want.
BECK: Alcoholic -- why, as an alcoholic, why didn`t I know about the drinking system? That`s great.
KENSETH: It is 130 degrees in the car, and there`s a lot of times, I`ll drink that whole thing (ph).
BECK: A hundred and thirty degrees in the car itself, or that`s with the suits on?
BURTON: In the car. I mean, it`s upward of -- I`ve seen numbers of almost 140 degrees. It`s always 110, 120.
BECK: Because of the engine?
BURTON: Well, you`re 850 horsepower right there. You`re sitting on these off sites (ph) that are 1,200 degrees. And then the transmission`s roaring (ph) gears, brakes. All that stuff makes heat.
BECK: No air -- obviously, no air conditioning.
BURTON: Well, we don`t have air conditioning in the car. What we do have is we have a system that brings the air in from outside, scrubs the carbon monoxide out of it and cools it and puts -- pumps it into your helmet. So it cools it about 30 degrees. So you are breathing about 30- degree cleaned air. And that`s -- that`s a huge help.
We used to race without that, and I mean, it is -- that has changed the way you feel. We used to always have headaches when the race was over. You used to always -- you know, I did a carbon monoxide study. You always had carbon monoxide.
BECK: With any big corporation, like the plug he made?
BURTON: That`s pretty corporate free, I think. You know, we learned a lot. We actually -- we used to -- Bob Martin and I would do oxygen at the end of every race, we would -- we would do oxygen therapy. And -- but now with the new systems, you don`t have to do all that stuff.
So it`s -- it`s a -- you know, I don`t know whether we`re athletes or not. I think we are. And the only reason I saw that is I`ve had the opportunity to work with the Carolina Panthers some. And if they go to like Charlotte Motors Speedway and, like, drive a car with the Richard Petty driving experience, they get out and they`re like, "Man, I don`t know how you do that."
Now when I watch them, you know, play football, I don`t know how they do that.
KENSETH: I guess you could be a kicker.
BURTON: No, I couldn`t be a kicker. But I could be kicked, but not - - I don`t -- you know, I do that. I think that an athlete is a lot of different kind of athletes. Even on a football team, you know, line is not the same kind of athlete as a running back is. And a running back`s not the same kind of athlete that a quarterback is. You have to do whatever -- whatever sport you`re in, you`ve got to condition yourself to be competitive in that sport.
BECK: So how do you condition yourself for this?
BURTON: You drink a lot of beer. Things are heavy, man. You pick up...
KENSETH: Any brand you want to get in?
BECK: It`s part of the drinking system.
BURTON: No, I mean, honestly, we had -- we had drivers that are just fanatics about fitness, and we have drivers that don`t do any fitness. And we have a lot in between. We have -- in the years gone by, we had very little fitness in our program.
Today, I work out every day that I`m in town. It`s -- of course, I`m 40 years old. I`ve had to -- I`ve had to change the way that I approach the sport. I don`t do it like I did when I was 30. I -- it`s different when you`re 40. I know that`s a cliche, but it is. And I`ve had to change, and I do a pretty serious fitness program, because I had to. It`s been required of me in order to compete at a high level and to recover.
I find that, you know, I was getting more tired. I was tired Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, where before I wasn`t. So I started -- that had to be because of what was going on Sunday. So I changed my fitness program, and I work out pretty hard.
BECK: OK. Hang on.
BURTON: Even though I don`t look like it.
BECK: We`ll be back in -- look at me. You look like a god.
BURTON: You`ve got to be...
BECK: When we come back, we`ll find out which one of these drivers got his first race car at the tender age of 13. More with two of NASCAR`s finest when we come back.
GRAPHIC: What year was the first true NASCAR race held? A, 1945; B, 1949; C, 1952; D, 1957.
GRAPHIC: What year was the first true NASCAR race held? B, 1949. The first NASCAR race was held in Charlotte, North Carolina, in 1949 on a dirt track.
BECK: You got it wrong. The seasoned veteran at the table got it wrong. What was your guest?
BURTON: I got it right. Well, I was doing the math, and I -- so I was thinking it was early `50s. That was because my math was wrong.
BECK: Well, congratulations. You`re our big winner tonight.
BURTON: What do I win?
KENSETH: Yes, what do you win?
BECK: Another 45 minutes of this. Congratulations.
Somebody said to me today -- in fact, Chip, who`s a friend of mine and a big fan, he said to me as we were walking. He said, "You know the one thing I really want to know from these two guys," he said, "because they`re really known as decent guys, touching bumpers. Tolerated, but not -- but not encouraged." Right? The race came down to it and you -- and you had the chance to win, but it meant shaving a little bit, would you do it?
BURTON: No. The way I look at it is that my mother always taught me to do unto others as you`d have done unto you. It`s kind of backwards here. You do to people what they do to you.
KENSETH: So you mean you do it first?
BURTON: That`s right.
BECK: Did your mother ever say, if everyone was jumping off a bridge, would you?
BURTON: No. But here`s my point. Is you`ve got -- you have to give everybody the benefit of the doubt. We have to race each other every -- and you have to assume the guy that you`re racing with is going to give you room and not going to know you out of the way.
When he proves to you that he isn`t going to do that, then he`s free game. Then he`s made the rules. He -- you know that if you are in front of him, he would knock you out of the way. So that gives you permission to do that.
And if you go knocking everybody out of the way -- if I knock Matt out of the way to win a race, I`m not only giving him permission to knock me out of the way, I give every other driver permission to.
BECK: You feel that way, Matt? Is that the way -- is there a code?
KENSETH: I think you get a reputation. I think if you race people the way you want to be raced, more times than not, that will come back to you. So Jeff and I have raced each other for three wins here in the last - - last two or three years -- and by the way, he beat me in two of them. And we raced -- man, at Dover last year we raced side by side for 20 laps, probably 25 laps. And never laid a fender on each other. And he ended up passing me at the end of the race.
Same as Texas this year, we ran side by side for three or four laps. So I think when you race back somebody, they`ll give you that respect back. And they`ll be fair with you. But certainly, when it gets down to the race, you know, if there`s people that you feel maybe haven`t treated you fair in the past, you know, you keep that in the back of your mind. You might race them a little harder than everybody else.
BECK: Did you -- did you learn anything from "Cars", the Pixar movie?
KENSETH: I haven`t seen it.
BECK: You haven`t seen it, really? It`s great.
BURTON: I`ve seen it. I`ve watched it. I can`t say I really learned a lot. I know how to work the fast forward button when it came out on DVD.
BECK: You -- Matt, you got your first car when you were 13. And your dad gave it to you, right?
KENSETH: Well, my dad actually got his first race car when I was 13, and my dad, or I at the time, really knew a lot about race cars. So he went and bought a car. His three brothers raced. My cousin raced. And he went and bought a car from the local speedway when they were done with the season and brought it back. We didn`t have jack stands or tools or anything.
So we kind of did it together, kind of a father-son thing, went and bought some tools. And I just started working on the car and trying to learn everything about it. And you know, for them first three years, I worked on the car on the time. And then when I was 16, he got me my own car.
BECK: And you really started racing with go-karts.
BURTON: I started when I was -- I started racing when I was 7. My brothers were racing when I was 5. So you know, you always want to do what your family`s doing. And they were racing go-karts. I`m like, "Hey, let`s do that."
And then when I started, I...
BECK: Is it like normal go-karts? I live in a place in Connecticut where go-karts are, like, this big thing. But I`ve never seen anything like it. It is -- I mean, they spend months preparing. There`s a track. Somebody has -- somebody has the lights in the -- I don`t know. It`s insane.
` BURTON: You know what? No matter what you do, there`s a level of insanity that can be brought into it. And -- and, you know, whether you -- you see it the soccer fields. You know, you`re watching your 7-year-old play soccer, and there`s some fanatic parent yelling at the referee about a bunch of 7-year-olds playing. Well, the same thing happens in racing.
And you know, as soon as you get an obsessed dad that wants to win and his kid wants to win, then it`s just all out the window. And, you know, I have a 6-year-old that`s racing. I have a 13-year-old that -- 12-year-old. Not 13 yet, but she`s getting there. And she rides horses and competitively. And it`s -- it`s competition. I mean, you go there and you want to see your kids win. You want to see them do well. And it just -- you know, that raises the level.
And go-karts, you know, parents have found a way. Dads have found a way to, you know, do everything they can to make them go faster than the next kid.
BECK: Do you think -- do you think racing is a familial thing, that it`s in the blood? I can`t imagine my dad being a race car driver. That would just be the best.
KENSETH: Well, I think it is. But mostly because that`s what they live around and what they see. I think if your dad does it and you`re hanging around and seeing it all the time, and you`re being on the track, and you`re kind of living it, I think, a lot of times, it will get instilled. I mean, you`ll want to do that, you know, as a kid.
But sometimes it seems like it`s in the blood. And sometimes, you have kids that have been around it so much that they get burned out fro it. They don`t -- don`t want anything to do with it. So I think it can go either way.
BECK: You -- you actually went to Duke. You wanted to be an attorney.
BURTON: No. No, no, no. I didn`t -- listen, I go to Duke as a fan, not as a student. No, my wife and I are participating in the Duke Children`s Hospital in fundraising. And my wife`s been on the board of directors. But I didn`t go to school there. I...
BECK: I would have gone. I just would have just said...
KENSETH: Went to Cambridge.
BECK: Did you really?
BECK: Nice town. Yes.
KENSETH: At the playschool and stuff (ph).
BECK: Yes, right.
But you -- did you want to be an attorney? Or am I completely pulling this one out of my...
KENSETH: Jeff wanted to be a politician.
BURTON: Well, I...
BECK: What is wrong with you?
BURTON: I don`t know. I -- I enjoy -- I honestly enjoy arguing, as stupid as that sounds. Which maybe that`s why you think I want to be a lawyer. But I enjoy the opportunity to put 20 people in a room or two people in a room and listen to everybody`s opinions and come to what I think is the reasonable, you know, solution.
BECK: Have you seen "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington"?
BURTON: I`ve seen it -- I`ve seen -- I`ve also seen Mr. Clinton go to Washington, and I`ve seen a lot of people go to Washington.
BECK: Right. As I`m saying, it`s just like the Jimmy Stewart movie. Except your soul is crushed at the end.
BURTON: That`s the scary part of that, is that -- that you see so many people that go through it, and it has to be an incredibly hard way to make a living. But you know, I -- when I got into it, I`d go into it from a point-of-view that I really -- you know, I`m not doing it for a living. I would have made my living doing this. And you know, maybe go try to do some good. And if you determine you can`t do any good...
BECK: I`ve got a hard network break, so I`ve only got, like, a yes or no answer here for you. Is it serious? Do you think you`ll ever run?
BURTON: Yes. Yes, could.
BECK: Back in just a second.
BECK: The image is this is nothing but shirtless, beer drinking hillbillies. And you know, I`ve been to -- I`ve been to the Kentucky Derby, which is, you know, is...
BURTON: Shirtless drinking hillbillies.
BECK: No, but it just depends on where you go. It`s -- it is, you know, straight-laced and fancy pants as you get. You go into the infield, and it`s shirtless drinking hillbillies.
Have you seen a difference in the fan? Who is the average NASCAR fan?
KENSETH: I think it`s hard to pick out the average NASCAR fan. I don`t think there is an average NASCAR fan. I think the -- the crowd is pretty diverse, way more diverse, I think, than it was probably when I started. I think there`s a, you know, group that likes to come and camp out and party all weekend and be crazy.
KENSETH: And hang out with everybody. And I think there`s a lot of people that -- that are business people that come in on Sunday mornings and maybe a garage tour or sit up in the suite and watch the race. I think there`s -- there`s a little bit of everything in the stands, really.
BECK: What is the -- what is the difference to you -- could you do Indy cars? Would -- what is the difference between -- I know what the difference is, but for you as a driver, what`s the difference?
BURTON: It doesn`t interest me.
BURTON: Well, Indy racing`s turned into -- you know, they run a lot of two-mile, mile and a half racetracks. And they just -- they run wide open all the way around the race track. Never lift off the gas. And that, to me, is not what racing`s about. What racing`s about is who can go around the corner the fastest, who can drive a car that doesn`t handle very well the best. That form of racing is -- is just changed. And I don`t like the way it`s gone, so I`m not a big Indy racing fan at the moment, just because of the way it`s shifted.
But I`m a huge Indianapolis 500 fan because of the history and all the heritage has gone.
BECK: What is the biggest -- what`s the biggest change in NASCAR, good and bad, that you`ve seen? What have you said not so -- I`m not thrilled about this? And that you`re glad has changed?
KENSETH: Everybody has their own opinions. I think the biggest good change has been the safety stuff. You know, the -- they made the racetracks a lot safer, you know, putting up safer barriers and doing all kinds of studying there. They made our cars a lot safer. NASCAR spent a lot of their own money, done a lot of their own research to -- to get the inside the cockpit safer. And they had neck restraints and all that kind of stuff.
So I thin safety has been, by far, the best good advance.
The part that I probably don`t like the most -- I can`t say it`s a bad thing -- but the Car of Tomorrow thing. They`ve got the car -- basically, they`re getting them all as close to the same as you can get them. It has taken away a lot of the -- the thinking and ingenuity of some of the engineers and the crew chiefs. And others. Not a lot you can do with the cars any more.
And I started working on cars for three years before I ever raced them, so that`s the part I probably enjoy the most...
BECK: I mean, but...
KENSETH: ... is figuring out how to make your car faster than the next.
BECK: It doesn`t even -- it doesn`t even make sense. I mean, that`s part of -- I mean, it`s almost like a jockey and a horse. I mean, the car is the other part. It`s not just the driver. It`s the car. And the team that builds it.
BURTON: Yes. It`s changed where your focus has to be. When we started racing, it was kind of open. You could really mess with the bodies a great deal. You could -- there`s a whole lot more open than what it is today. The effort is to try to make racing even more competitive.
If -- if the first place team has $100 million to spend, and the 20th place team has $70 million to spend, make that performance gap less, or that $30 extra million isn`t effective in being spent. That`s what NASCAR`s goal is.
BECK: It all sounds -- this is starting to sound like a socialist race car, you know?
BURTON: That`s what it is, I mean.
BECK: Hang on, hang on, hang on. We`re going to come back in a second. I have to take a hard break. Back in just a second.
BECK: We`re back with Matt Kenseth and Jeff Burton, two of the qualifying drivers for NASCAR`s Race for the Chase. I want to pick it up where we just talking about, when you said NASCAR...
BURTON: The socialist part?
BECK: The socialist part. Well, no, but I mean, you know, you know the Yankees have more money. All right, they`ll spend more money. If you have more money, you know, sew more things on your jackets and you get more money to do that. But you`re saying they`re trying to balance everything out. Why?
BURTON: The great thing about NASCAR and the most frustrating thing about NASCAR is that they don`t really care what we think from a performance standpoint. All they care about is what the fans think. The fans get the vote. We don`t get a vote. They don`t come to us and say, "What do you think about this rule? What do you think about that rule?" Every rule they make, with exceptions of safety, is geared around making the racing competitive so the fans want to come watch it. It is the core of what has made our sport successful.
We honestly -- they don`t call us and say -- you know, we don`t get a vote. It`s not like the NFL. It`s not like Major League Baseball. The owners don`t make the rules. NASCAR makes the rules. And that`s exceptionally frustrating to us, because we`re competitors. We want to participate. But the reason it`s gotten so big and the reason it`s become so successful is because they have one interest at heart. What makes the whole thing work is the fans. And the fans, they determine what the rules are.
BECK: But, see, this sounds like the ultimate capitalist. I mean, that`s tremendous. That`s what I like to hear. But now tell me how that fits in to making all the cars pretty much the same.
KENSETH: Well, I think they want to give everybody an equal opportunity. You know, they want to make the cars -- you know, like Jeff said, it would spend the money. If they have rules where the bodies have to be exactly like this on the cars and the aerodynamics are going to be exactly like this on the cars, you can spend as much money as you want on research and development on the body, but it`s got to fit all these templates. It`s got to be the same.
There is nowhere you can go work on those bodies. You can spend money on wind tunnels all day long, but there is nothing that you`re going to find on them. And that`s what they want to do. They want to make it so the bottom-tier team, you know, can bring equipment that`s just as fast to the track as the guy who spends the most money. They want to give everybody an equal chance, you know, to go out there and compete for wins, which that part of it is good.
BECK: It is an amazing business. NASCAR is an amazing business. First of all, what are you guys pulling down a year? I`m just asking.
BURTON: You`ll have to ask my wife.
BECK: What is the average -- somebody in your...
KENSETH: It`s really different from...
BECK: Aw, shucks.
KENSETH: It`s like any other sport. You know, Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson, guys are...
BECK: Five million, ten, fifteen?
BECK: Oh, more than most people could imagine.
BECK: No, but the reason why I asked that is because you don`t seem like money has corrupted you. And it doesn`t strike me -- and I`m sure there are -- but it doesn`t strike me, on the people that I`ve seen in NASCAR, that while it is such a capitalist kind of thing, where it is just about the fan -- and let`s be honest, that`s because the fan will come and watch it and they`ll buy the products. I mean, NASCAR has the most loyal fan base of anything else, and it`s because they`re paying attention to them.
But it is really about the money, and yet it hasn`t been corrupted by the money. How does that happen?
KENSETH: Well, I think, for a lot of us, you know, I know people say it nobody believes it, but the money part is kind of just a bonus. You know, Jeff and I, I mean, we grew up racing. And I spent my own money, because I didn`t have any, I spent all my dad`s money to go racing. And we could barely -- we spent all our money to go racing. We didn`t race to make a living. You know, we went and worked somewhere to make a living so we could race, and that`s the way a lot of us started off, especially in -- Jeff`s a couple generations old than me, but especially in our generations where we had to race a long time, you know, before we...
BECK: How you feeling, Grandpa?
KENSETH: ... before we got to this level. There was a lot of guys, kids, coming in now that are 18, 19, 20 and didn`t really have to go through all that. So you might see things change in the sport. But a lot of us, you know, had to race a long time to spend our own money to go race, because we just loved it and just got fortunate to get this opportunity.
BECK: Can you do that now, $20 million to put a team together, right, is it $20 million?
KENSETH: We didn`t do that kind of racing. We did local racing and just got lucky enough where people noticed us to give us an opportunity to do the next step and kind of move our way up the ladder.
BECK: You know, I just mentioned a minute ago the fans are the most loyal and the products are just unstoppable. I was at the Vatican, oh, I don`t know, 15 years ago. And there, on the top of St. Peters, is a gift shop. I mean, you`re standing out there by the statues and everything. And I walked into this gift shop, and they had a pope-head bottle opener. And I thought, "Wow." Have you ever seen something in NASCAR that you went, "That`s just -- we have marketed everything that we can"?
BURTON: I have a little doll at home that`s like a (INAUDIBLE) driver sitting down. And every time you throw it on the floor, the driver (INAUDIBLE) telling the driver what to do. And I`ve always wondered, "Who in the hell would buy this?"
BECK: You got one.
KENSETH: Singing hamster, singing ducks that have car numbers on them, and driver`s faces and stuff, and those are pretty darn silly.
BECK: The stats are that women are becoming more and more fans of NASCAR, and yet somebody told me today that they went to -- I think it was Daytona, and they were like, "I didn`t see any women." Women, are they brought in by their husbands? Are they just race fans?
BURTON: I`m surprised that they said they didn`t see any women, because honestly -- I mean, when I...
BECK: I think it`s because the guy who told me that, women run from him like the plague.
BURTON: A lot of sports and a lot of companies, you know, throw all these stats out that you question, "Is that right?" But honestly, on Sunday mornings, drivers do hospitality events with guests of their sponsors, and we end up going through the crowd a lot. I see a tremendous amount of women. I don`t know it`s 50 percent, but it`s every bit of 35 percent, is what I would say.
BECK: Family kind of thing, husbands or wives...
BECK: Do you have groupies? Is that part of the...
KENSETH: Well, we`re both married. We don`t.
BURTON: We don`t. And look at us. Why would we have groupies? But I`ll speak for myself. There is an element of -- I mean, there`s no question we have women in this sport. And I think most of the women I see are with spouses or boyfriends. You see a lot of kids, a lot of families. And that`s changed. I mean, that`s not new, but it wasn`t always like that.
BECK: Which one of you had the experience with the half-naked drunken man at Watkins Glen?
KENSETH: Well, you need to rephrase that, because...
BECK: Good night, everybody, we`re going to leave it there. All out of time.
KENSETH: No, they`re talking about -- we had a red flag at the race track at Watkins Glen, and they (INAUDIBLE) and there`s a real short fence there. And a guy jumped the fence and came down and wanted me to sign his hat during a red flag while I was belted into the car, so it was very surprising. I looked over and there was some guy with no shirt leaning in my window.
BURTON: Did you give him the autograph?
KENSETH: You know, I never did, and I felt bad about that.
BECK: The way I heard the story was that you were kind of excited because you`re like...
KENSETH: I was pretty caught off-guard.
BECK: ... "Somebody knows me."
KENSETH: Well, I was caught really off-guard, so I`m like, "I can`t believe he`s coming up here and wants to sign his hat in the middle of a race." You know, we`re kind of busy, you know? And after I thought about it, I was like, "Man, that was really cool, somebody like Jeff Gordon and Dale Jr., and all the superstars were parked out there, and he came to my car. That was pretty cool. There was like 40 cars parked out there."
BECK: It`s really strange, because -- and I hope this never wears off with me. I don`t know if you guys feel the same way. I am always shocked when people come up and say, "Hey, I`m a fan. I listen to the show." Because I look at them and are like, "But you`re so normal." I just I never -- it`s just weird. Is it weird for you guys to have that? I mean, the half-naked man, but sure.
BURTON: The weird thing is that people say, "Well, you`re just a normal guy." And you want to say, "Well, yes, I mean, what are race car drivers? They don`t have wings on us or, you know, horns sticking out of our heads." The thing with fans that really is humbling is the kids. I mean, when you go to a -- I have children. And when you go to an event with the kids and kids are like, "Hey, you race race cars," that`s pretty cool. And they`re watching you on TV, and that`s the part that always kind of puts me in my place is you know they`re watching you.
BECK: The thing that -- I think NASCAR would even be bigger than it is if television didn`t do car races such injustice. You know, for years I watched the Indy 500, and then I went to the Indy. It`s nothing like it. You don`t see the car. It`s just a streak of red that goes by. It`s the most incredible thing I`ve ever seen. What is it like? And, in fact, I have to take a break, so let me take a break. But think of this and give me the answer when we come back. It was so different for me to watch it on television to the race. What is the difference from watching and driving? What is the experience like in the car?
We`ll be back in just a second.
BECK: Hello, America. Tonight we`re talking NASCAR with Jeff Burton and Matt Kenseth. I left it off with -- I saw the only car race I`ve ever seen, besides when I was a kid, was the Indy 500. And they went by, and I couldn`t believe -- it is nothing like it is on television. It is just -- I mean, standing there in a crowd is just adrenaline rush like crazy. What is the different from viewing it to actually being in the car?
KENSETH: Oh, it`s not much different.
KENSETH: You know, I think whenever you go see a sport live or on TV, it`s hard for TV to really do it justice. And I think really at a race that`s like that, because you can`t hear the engine, you can`t feel how much horsepower there is, you know, when you`re sitting the stands and a car goes by you at 200 miles an hour, to feel the wind and to hear it go by and to see how fast it`s going, it`s hard to really capture that on television.
They do a lot of good things to try to capture it with different cameras and in-car views and all kinds of stuff, but it is really something you need to see in person. And I get that a lot to fans that first come to their first race. They`re like, "I cannot believe how different it is actually coming to a race." They`ll be like, "I watch on TV. It`s pretty cool," but when they show up, they`re like...
BECK: I was there the year that there was a crash and the tire flew off into the crowd and killed that person. And when you`re there and you see it -- it`s 200 miles an hour. It`s beyond your imagination. The danger alone is -- does that ever -- how long does it take for you to be driving 200 miles an hour, with other people and you never know what anybody`s going to do, does it bother you when there`s a new guy that comes in that you`ve never driven around? Does any of that play in your mind?
BURTON: Well, the key to all of it is going 200 miles an hour doesn`t hurt. It`s stopping at 200 mile an hour that hurts. That`s the bad part. So you pay really close attention to the people that you don`t know. But it doesn`t -- you have to trust them. You immediately have to trust them, because you really can`t just take your time and, "Oh, what`s this guy going to do?" You`ve just got to go. You`ve got to go past them. You`ve got to go do whatever you`ve got to do. And you just don`t have a whole lot of time to be tremendously amount of patient.
So I think that the danger part of it is certainly part of it. There`s no way getting around it. We`ve done a tremendous amount to make it safer. I think the dangerous is part of why people are excited about it. I mean, honestly...
BECK: I don`t mean to be rude here at all, but I mean there`s a part of -- this is delicate to say. There`s part of you as a fan that watches that you want to see that car spin around. You don`t want anybody hurt, but part of that is to see, "Oh, my gosh!" I mean, you just don`t see that.
BURTON: As football fans, we like to see big hits. I mean, you know, it`s the same thing.
BECK: You don`t want to see anybody walk away on a stretcher, but you know what I mean? Let me just change kind of just to the perspective of your wife. After Dale Earnhardt was killed, what was the average experience with the average driver and his family? Did you have a problem with your wife, being able to sit down and say, "Come on, we knew this going in, and it`s not going to happen to me"? I mean, the odds are very rare.
KENSETH: I think that everybody is different. I think everybody has different beliefs. I think everybody`s family is different. My wife and myself, we both are firm believers that, when it`s your day, it`s your day. You know, God doesn`t need to have a race car to take you away. It can happen at any time. It can happen crossing the street. It can happen doing whatever. So I think that everybody has different beliefs. I really believe, when it`s your day, it`s your day, and it doesn`t matter what you do. You take all the precautions you can in your car and the race track and all that stuff and, you know, go from there.
BECK: Any time in your career either of you felt, "I`m dead"?
BURTON: I woke up before and didn`t know where I was.
BECK: You know, back with what Matt said, I mean, I agree 100 percent. Going in, you know what the deal is. And if you`ve been around the sport for a long time -- Dale Earnhardt wasn`t the first person that had ever been killed in this sport. And you knew the dangers going in. And you do everything you can to keep it safe. But at the end of the day, when you wake up in the morning and you want to be a race car driver, the fear part of it never comes into play.
I never once do I ever remember being afraid sitting in my -- there`s been times that I`ve, when all is said and done, I was like, "Wow, that was" -- I didn`t like that so much. But I`ve never gotten in it afraid of what could happen. And I guess the day you do is the day you...
KENSETH: Another thing, I mean, if you can`t do what you love in life because you`re scared, well, you`re really not living. So, I mean, if that`s what you love to do and you do all the precautions and all that stuff, I mean, that`s what you love to do, so that`s what you should do.
BECK: Have you ever been in a situation to where you`ve thought, "Come on, man, we all know this is very dangerous. This thing should be corrected. We should be having this safety device or procedure in the car"?
BURTON: Oh, yes.
BECK: You have, and it hadn`t been done? Have those been corrected, do you believe?
BURTON: Oh, I believe wholeheartedly that NASCAR went from being a company that was very not lackadaisical, but they put safety on the drivers. "This is your responsibility to make sure that you`re safe," to a company and a leader in the industry and saying, "You`re going to do these things because it`s safer." We went from being kind of the follower to the leader.
BECK: So let me reverse that. Has there been any safety procedure that you know is right, but it`s changed your game so much you`re like, "Oh, I hate this"?
KENSETH: Well, I think when the Hansa vice (ph) first came out, a lot of people were uncomfortable wearing it. They`re like, "I lost some movement. I can`t move my arms"...
KENSETH: It`s a head-neck restraint.
BECK: And that`s the thing -- that it came from the Dale Earnhardt crash.
KENSETH: Yes, and several others, but it was before that. You know, I think it was voluntary, and you could do whatever you want in safety, and some people (INAUDIBLE) "Oh, it`s kind of uncomfortable," and this and that. And finally NASCAR just took hold and said, "Look, we don`t care whether you want to wear it or not. You`re wearing it as part of the safety equipment you`ve got to have on the track."
And it`s kind of like having a helmet law on a motorcycle. They said, "Look, this is the law. These are our rules. This is what you`re going to wear if you want to race with us. If you don`t want to race with us, you don`t have to wear it." And they, like Jeff said, they went ahead and they became a leader. And they said this is the new specs for all your safety stuff for your own good, and that was a big step, I thought.
BECK: We`ve got a lot of e-mail in. I asked today my radio program questions. They`re good questions. We`ll see the answers coming up in just a second. Back in just a sec.
BECK: We`re back. I told my radio audience that I was meeting with you two, and we were going to talk NASCAR. And I asked them, I said, "Write in some questions that you want to hear." The answers to them -- you ready?
Here`s the first one. What do you do if you have to go to the bathroom during a race? You`re sick of that question, aren`t you?
BURTON: Oh, I`m sick of that question. Well, if you`ve really got to go, you`ve just got to go. But typically you sweat so much that it`s not that big of an issue.
BECK: Is it like a spacesuit, where you`ve got things taken care of?
BURTON: No, no, it`s just like...
BECK: When you got to go, you`ve got to go, just in the car?
BURTON: When the race is over, you see the guy running to his truck, you know he`s the one that probably had to go.
BECK: Next question. Do you have road rage ever?
KENSETH: Yes, I think people do. When something happens to you -- I mean, a lot of us try to stay pretty even-keel, but we all have fairly short tempers. And some are shorter than others. And when you get ran into, you feel like somebody did you wrong, you usually blow a gasket for a little bit of time and hopefully by the time you catch that car or get by him or whatever you kind of cool off by then and kind of maybe just talk about it after the race.
But certainly you see guys running into each other and, you know, waiting for the guy to run back into him. And then you see a little bit of that, not as much as the old days, but you see some of it.
BECK: I have always wanted to ask myself, because I have family that lives out in Wyoming, and used to fly into Billings, Montana, where, you know, no speed limit. And you`re going 120 miles an hour down the road. And then you hit a speed limit of 55, and it is like, "Dear God, help me." How do you guys drive at 55 and not go insane? How do you drive the highways?
BURTON: When I first started running the Busch Series, which is the series before you go to Cup, normally, I went and raced at Darlington, one of my first big track races. And I was on the road going home and I`m like, and I look down, and I`m going like 100. And I`m like -- it was so - - it felt so slow. But since then, I guess I`ve been doing it so long and the environment is just completely different -- the environment of a race car and the environment in a street car is just completely different. It`s not that big of a problem.
BECK: OK, I`ve only got 30 seconds, and then we`ve got to go. And I want to thank you guys for being on, but here`s my favorite question, so it`s just a yes or no. Have you ever fallen asleep at the wheel, even just for a second?
KENSETH: I`m going to say no.
BECK: Thanks to NASCAR drivers Jeff Burton and Matt Kenseth. From New York, America, good night.