Burton, Cat Racing Team Come Home 11th in Season Opener Daytona 500 Jeff Burton ran a smart, conservative race in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500, overcoming a deep-in-the-field starting spot and a handful of ...
Burton, Cat Racing Team Come Home 11th in Season Opener Daytona 500
Jeff Burton ran a smart, conservative race in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500, overcoming a deep-in-the-field starting spot and a handful of multiple-car incidents to bring home an 11th--place finish in the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala.
The South Boston, Va., native rolled off the starting grid 39th for the annual 500-miler at Daytona International Speedway and stuck to his predetermined strategy of racing in the back of the field until it was time to bring his Caterpillar Chevrolet to the front. The smart move allowed Burton to avoid the first three incidents and was scored 23rd at the event's halfway mark.
It was then that the veteran driver slowly began to make his ascent through the field, cracking the top 15 for the first time at lap 114.
Four laps later, NASCAR red-flagged the scheduled 200-lap event for a pothole that developed in the lower racing groove of Turn 1. After a one hour and forty minute break from the action, the field returned to green and raced for the next 17 circuits before the patchwork came undone. The sanctioning body was forced to halt the competition again for repairs on lap 162 that took just over 44 minutes to complete.
When the officials gave their thumbs-up that the repairs had been made, crew chief Todd Berrier chose to bring the 2006 Daytona 500 pole winner to pit lane for the final time and give the black and yellow machine fresh tires and fuel for the remaining 32 laps.
Burton restarted 20th on lap 169 and methodically raced to the 10th position before a three-car melee broke out behind him six laps from completion.
Berrier made the call to leave the Caterpillar Chevy on track for the two-lap shootout, with Richard Childress Racing teammate Clint Bowyer leading the field to green on lap 198. But, as the field was coming to take the white flag, another three-car pileup occurred in Turn 3, allowing NASCAR's new rule of three attempts at a green-white-checkered finish to take effect.
Burton was still scored 10th when the first attempt in overtime took place but spinning cars brought out another caution flag, setting the tone for a second attempt to finish the race under green.
In less than a lap of racing, the RCR driver picked up five positions and restarted fifth in the second overtime while fellow RCR stable mate Kevin Harvick led the field to green.
The final two laps saw drivers making daring moves in the draft with Burton being shuffled from his top-five restart position. In the end, Burton hung on and fought with the best of them to take the checkered flag 11th.
Jamie McMurray became the 34th different driver to capture the Daytona 500 victory, beating Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Greg Biffle to the line. RCR teammate Bowyer finished fourth and David Reutimann rounded out the top-five finishers.
Harvick crossed the line seventh after a dominating performance, leading six different times for a total of 41 laps. Bowyer also held the point eight times for 37 laps, giving the RCR duo a combined total of 74 laps led in the 'Great American Race'.
McMurray's triumph also marks the first Daytona 500 victory for Earnhardt-Childress Racing Engines. Five of the top-11 finishers were powered by ECR engines, including Bowyer (fourth), Harvick (seventh), Juan Pablo Montoya (10th) and Burton (11th).
"I'm real happy with how the Caterpillar Chevrolet drove tonight. Starting deep in the field certainly didn't help but that just shows you how good our car was. We came here to win but I'll definitely take an 11th-place finish. All the RCR cars were fast and everybody on the team should be proud of the effort that they put in over the off season. It wasn't our year to win this race but we have 35 more chances in the year to do so."