This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Dover International Speedway ... Jeff Burton will pilot chassis No. 314 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new this season, this is the same Caterpillar Chevrolet Burton ...
This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Dover International Speedway ... Jeff Burton will pilot chassis No. 314 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new this season, this is the same Caterpillar Chevrolet Burton drove to a fourth-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway three weeks ago.
575 for JB ... This weekend's 400-miler will mark Burton's 575th career start in NASCAR's premier division, placing him 22nd on the all-time starts list. The South Boston, Va., native is also tied with Bobby Labonte, Benny Parsons and Jack Smith for 29th on the all-time wins list with 21 victories, including his first at Texas Motor Speedway's inaugural event in 1997, back-to-back wins at Darlington Raceway in 1999, two Coca-Cola 600 wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1999 and 2001, and under the lights at Daytona International Speedway in 2000. In 17 years of Sprint Cup Series competition, Burton has compiled six poles, 127 top-five and 235 top-10 finishes.
Dover Details ... In 33 Sprint Cup Series starts at Dover, Burton boasts one win (September 2006 where he snapped a 176-race winless streak), seven top-five and 14 top-10 finishes. The South Boston, Va., native has earned a 25.3 starting average to go along with a respectable 15.9 finishing average, and has led nine different races for a total of 128 laps.
Welcome Home ... One member from the Cat Racing team hails from "The First State." Daniel Blizzard, front-tire changer on the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy, calls Mt. Airy home. In addition to his race day duty, Blizzard works in RCR's Cup Shop during the week as a mechanic.
In May, you scored a runner-up finish. What will it take to finish one position higher? "I'd love to finish first. Dover is a fun race track. It's a huge challenge. It's very difficult to get around there. But, to run well there, you need to get the throttle and the brake matched up. It's very difficult, so it's a challenge to go there. It's a track we always run well. We never seem to run great, but we always run well. Hopefully, we can step it up just a little bit, and find a way to be better."
Looking at your stats at Dover, your finishes look like it's a feast or famine. "It seems like we run fifth to 10th there a lot, so it's a track that I need to get better. I put a lot of demands on the car with the way I drive it. I ask a lot out of the car. There are times when we get it hooked up we're really fast, but there are other times I can't get around there at the speed I need. I have a comfort level in the way I drive the car, and whenever we get out of that, we seem to go slower. We're in a little bit of a box because of the way I drive it, but again, when I get out of that box, it just seems like it never works."
Is Dover a dangerous Chase track? "Yeah, Dover is a dangerous track for a lot of reasons. Number one, it's the wrecks. You see multi-car wrecks there. You see Talladega looking wrecks at Dover, because the straight-aways are so narrow, there's just no where to go. Dover is also a place where you can run okay and get lapped. You get long green-flag runs at Dover, and the leaders are coming. Dover is one of those places where it's hard to get your lap back if the cautions don't fall right. So, it's dangerous in both of those ways."
What is your mentality going into the Chase? Are you aggressive or do you play it safe? Are you different at the start of the Chase? "I think you are who you are. I think it's a mistake to try and become something that you're not. That's not to say that you don't try and improve yourself. I don't think that you change personalities or become something that you're not. I think you have to be true to who you are, while always trying to be better at who you are. That's what I take into the Chase. We are trying to be aggressive and build faster race cars. We know where our weaknesses are during the race. We know our weaknesses during practice. Those are the kinds of things that we are trying to improve. I just don't think you can become something that you're not."
With all three RCR drivers in the Chase, does the flow of information change? "Luckily, we have some experience at it. The three years that I've been in the Chase at RCR, two of those had all three of us in it, and one year, it was just me and Kevin (Harvick). So, our company, drivers and crew chiefs all have experience with that situation. Honestly, nothing changes. We're all in the Chase because we all worked together and shared information. Being open and up front with each other continues. If the communication and information sharing isn't there, then, honestly, whoever doesn't do that would probably need to go work someplace else. If we can't bring the same level of cooperation and willingness to work together when the chips are down, that shows the quality of the person we're dealing with and that person needs to go somewhere else. We don't have that problem. I'm not concerned about it in the least, which is why I can make that statement. It was very clear to everyone at RCR that if we were going to beat Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Penske Racing, we have to continue to do what we have been doing all year long. Now, that's not to say that the No. 31 team wants to be the team that brings the championship back to RCR in the worst way - we want that. But, we're not going to do that by being destructive to the No. 29 (Harvick) and the No. 33 (Bowyer). We're going to do that by trying to do a better job with the same information that they have. Any mindset other than that I think would be incorrect."