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Does Fatherhood Slow Drivers Down? Not According To Jeff Burton

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Jeff Burton heard all the talk in 2007 when Jeff Gordon became a father for the first time.

Some pundits said Gordon would slow down because he had a baby girl at home, as if that would somehow cost the four-time champion his racing edge.

Burton never believed it, and still doesn't now that Jimmie Johnson is the father of a still-unnamed newborn.

"I told you guys a couple years ago you all were insane when you said Jeff Gordon wasn't running well because he had a baby," Burton said Friday. "I mean, that's ridiculous."

And why is Burton so sure? Because he has children himself and has always found motivation from his family.

"To me, being a father has been an extremely inspiring thing," he said. "And it damn sure hasn't done anything to slow me down. If anything, it's sped me up."

Burton said he looks in his children's eyes and sees what it means to them when he does well; conversely, he sees the disappointment in their eyes when he doesn't.

And he knows they watch him and look up to him as a role model.

"They pay attention to what I do and the way I respond to things through adversity," he said. "They're always in the back of my head, the way I conduct myself."

Burton said after a heartbreaking result in the recent New Hampshire race, he got on a golf cart to leave the track with his wife and kids. Everyone was disappointed, but Burton said he offered some words of encouragement.

"Well guys, it happened again, but it's going to be OK," Burton said he told them. "We made a mistake, but we've done a lot of great things."

Burton said his son, Harrison, looked at him and said, "You've got a great attitude."

Reflecting on the story, Burton appeared touched.

"I mean, what the hell's better than that, you know?" he said. "It made me want to go win the next race."

So will fatherhood slow down Jimmie Johnson? Not according to Burton.