Burton, Cat Racing Team Earn Top-10 Finish at Bristol Jeff Burton and the Cat Racing team ran a smart and conservative race that returned them to top-10 form in Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Although the No. 31 Richard ...
Burton, Cat Racing Team Earn Top-10 Finish at Bristol
Jeff Burton and the Cat Racing team ran a smart and conservative race that returned them to top-10 form in Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Although the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team's second top-10 effort of the young 2010 season dropped them one spot in the overall championship point standings, the South Boston, Va., native was able to shave nine markers off the distance between his seventh-place tally and teammate Kevin Harvick's lead.
Spring-like weather greeted teams and fans on opening day in Thunder Valley, where the first round of Sprint Cup Series practice found Burton & Co. 17th fastest on the scoreboard. That work translated to the afternoon's time trials session when the 2008 Food City 500 race winner navigated Bristol's bullring 14th quick, lining the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy on the outside of row seven for Sunday's 500-lap feature.
Although intermittent light rain showers played havoc with 43 teams and drivers during Sunday's 266.5-mile showdown, it didn't stop the Cat Racing team from continuing their early season momentum. The Todd Berrier-led team spent most of the event's first half racing between the 12th and 17th positions, continually fine-tuning their set up with each pit stop of the day.
With a competitive black and yellow machine and the help of the over-the-wall crew, Burton was scored ninth at lap 210 and never raced outside the top 10 until the final 10 laps of the race. During that time, he ran as high as fifth on several occasions and narrowly missed a multi-car incident on lap 342.
While running fifth with 16 laps remaining, the 10th and final caution flag of the day waved for debris, forcing teams to make a vital pit stop decision. The No. 31 team's pit call was to pit for four fresh Goodyear tires that resulted in a 12th-place restart position for a 10-lap shootout. However, with the majority of the field on only two fresh tires, the hope was to maneuver around those cars quickly.
Burton advanced two positions by lap 497 and although he jockeyed for position over the final three laps, heavy traffic mired his progress, crediting him with a 10th-place finish.
Jimmie Johnson scored his 50th career Sprint Cup Series victory, beating Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch to the checkers. Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-five finishers.
RCR teammate Harvick overcame a poor starting position of 33rd to earn an 11th-place effort, while fellow stablemate Clint Bowyer was credited with a 40th- place finish after the engine in his No. 33 Chevy expired 56 laps into the race.
Short-track racing continues next weekend when NASCAR's premier division heads to the paper clip-shaped oval in Martinsville, Va.
"Our Caterpillar Chevrolet was capable of running near the front but a lot of the teams gambled with two-tire pit stops versus our four-tire stop on the last caution and that set us back in the 10-lap shootout. But, I'm still proud of the effort the Cat Racing team puts in week in and week out. We ran in the top five toward the end of the race before the last caution and that's what we need to keep doing. If we continue to do that, the wins will come."