Darlington Raceway 500
Burton's Visit with the Lady in Black Ends a Few Laps Earl
Jeff Burton and the Cat Racing Team were well on their way of breaking the season's bad-luck spell with a promising top-10 run, but with just under 20 laps to go, the engine expired on the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet that resulted in a 33rd-place finish for the Todd Berrier-led squadron. After fighting tight-handling conditions for much of the scheduled 367-lap affair, it wasn't until lap 243 that Burton cracked the top 10. He was ninth at lap 246, eighth at lap 280 and seventh only five laps later. The 21-time Sprint Cup Series race winner maintained that position while posting competitive and consistent lap times before reporting with 40 or so laps to go that both the water and oil pressure lights came on.
A scheduled green-flag pit stop was made a few laps later that saw the over-the-wall crew replace all four tires and add fuel in hopes of not seeing both the driver and car until after the checkered flag waved. But, as the green-flag conditions wore on, the worse the water pressure got and the engine ultimately let go with nine laps remaining. The disappointing finish resulted in the loss of four spots in the championship point standings. Burton and Company now sit 24th and are 20 markers in arrears to the 20th-place tally.
We just can't catch a break.
JEFF BURTON QUOTE:
"I love coming to Darlington and we, typically, have good finishes here. I thought we were going to break the spell we've had all season but I knew with about 40 laps to go that something was wrong the engine. We hoped we could nurse it and it would last until the end. I hate it for this team and for Caterpillar. We just can't catch a break."