Burton: Line crossed at Sonoma
LOUDON, N.H. -- Jeff Burton called last week's banging wreckfest at Sonoma, Calif., "ridiculous" and said drivers need to start showing each other more respect.
"I thought last week was horrendous," Burton said Friday. "The lack of respect from driver to driver was completely unacceptable. If our sport becomes that, we need to change the name from racing to demolition cars because that wasn't racing."
The last 10 laps of that race, we didn't look like some of the best drivers this country. We looked like some of the worst. It's just ridiculous.” -- Jeff Burton, on last week's Sprint Cup road-course race at Sonoma
Jimmie Johnson won the road-course race last week after Marcos Ambrose ran out of gas while leading under caution late in the race. But the green-flag action featured constant bumping and banging that led to numerous accidents.
"The last 10 laps of that race, we didn't look like some of the best drivers this country," Burton said. "We looked like some of the worst. It's just ridiculous."
Not everyone agrees.
"I think it was one of the most exciting road-course races we've had," Kevin Harvick, who finished third at Sonoma, said. "It was rough racing, but I like that kind of racing. Now you just assume everyone is angry at everybody."
Burton finished 27th after being involved in a bumping incident with Ambrose, who called Burton the next day to apologize. Burton has no problem with Ambrose, but he does have a problem with the overall style of recent races.
"There's nothing wrong with hard racing," Burton said. "I don't want letters from fans saying I don't like racing hard. But it takes skills to race and not hit anybody. It takes zero skills to run over somebody."
The aggressive driving is part of NASCAR's new policy of "have at it, boys" for looser enforcement on rough driving.
"It's in the drivers' hands, but the question is what are the drivers doing about it?" Burton asked. "That's the negative of 'have at it, boys.' It's not about ability. It's about a lack of willingness to do the right thing."
Terry Blount is a senior writer for ESPN.com.
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