Burton, No. 31 Crew Tame Monster Mile with Runner-Up Finish Jeff Burton and the Cat Racing team tamed Dover International Speedway's "Monster Mile" by scoring a runner-up finish in Sunday's Autism Speaks 400 presented by Hershey's Milk & ...
Burton, No. 31 Crew Tame Monster Mile with Runner-Up Finish
Jeff Burton and the Cat Racing team tamed Dover International Speedway's "Monster Mile" by scoring a runner-up finish in Sunday's Autism Speaks 400 presented by Hershey's Milk & Milkshakes, scoring their second consecutive top-10 finish and fifth top-10 effort of the season.
The rock-solid result advanced the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team one spot, to eighth, in the Sprint Cup Series point standings with 12 races in the record books. Burton continues to pursue teammate and point leader Kevin Harvick whom he sits 199 points in arrears to. However, for the second week in a row, the Todd Berrier-led group padded the difference between the spot they occupy and the Chase for the Championship cutoff spot of 12th, increasing the distance to 135 markers.
Although the concrete one-mile oval is known for taking prisoners, the Caterpillar crew knew the performance of their machine and their driver and had intentions of rebounding after several heartbreaking race weekends.
Burton recorded the 17th-fastest time during Friday's time trials session that placed him on the inside of row nine for the 400-lap affair and once the green flag waved, he never looked back.
The South Boston, Va., native spent the initial 50 or so laps accessing the handling of the No. 31 Chevy and determining what it needed for remainder of the race.
After a quick pit stop during the lap-55 caution period, which included air pressure adjustments to the newly bolted on Goodyear tires, the 2006 Dover race winner was back in action and kicked the black and yellow machine into gear. He cracked the top 15 at lap 83 and slid into 10th 27 laps later.
A long-green flag run ensued and before Berrier called the veteran driver to pit road for service, he let Burton lead lap 135, gaining five valuable bonus points. The RCR driver visited his seven-member over-the-wall crew on the ensuing lap and once green-flag pit stops cycled through, Burton was scored ninth on the leaderboard.
Over the middle stages of the 400-lap contest, the 21-time Sprint Cup Series winner continued his march toward the front, making his way up to second, on the heels of continuous adjustments to the Caterpillar Chevy.
In the event's final 100 laps, Burton, for the most part, held the fourth position before the day's final green-flag pit stops occurred with less than 40 circuits to go.
Burton quickly flexed his muscle and notched two spots with 19 laps remaining and fought with everything he and the Caterpillar Chevy had to reel in the leader, but time expired and he added a runner-up finish to his Dover resume.
Kyle Busch beat Burton to the checkers by 7.55 seconds and won his second race of the season. The balance of the top five consisted of Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and David Reutimann.
Burton's RCR teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer placed seventh and 17th, respectively.
NASCAR's senior circuit heads to the heartland of racing country where the No. 31 transporter will make the quick trip down Interstate 85 to Concord, N.C. next weekend for the second and final non-points event of the season.
Live coverage of the Sprint Showdown from Charlotte Motor Speedway will be televised on SPEED Saturday, May 22, beginning at 7 p.m.
JEFF BURTON: "It was a good run for us today. Obviously, we didn't think we were as good as the No. 48 most of the day. We had one run where I thought the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy was a little better than he was, but, overall, he was a touch better. I thought we were about even with the No. 18 but he seemed to have gotten better late in the race. We just need to keep knocking on the door and we'll get us some (wins)."