Las Vegas: Jeff Burton preview

* This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Las Vegas Motor Speedway ... Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 293 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This is a brand new Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala that will circle the race...

* This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Las Vegas Motor Speedway ... Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 293 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This is a brand new Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala that will circle the race track for the first time this weekend.

* Las Vegas Details ... Burton won the 1999 and 2000 Sprint Cup Series races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In 12 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at the speedway, he has claimed five top-five and eight top-10 finishes. In addition, the South Boston, Va., native has posted one pole, three wins, five top-five and six top-10 finishes in eight Nationwide Series starts at the track. The 21-time Sprint Cup Series winner also holds an 18.5 starting average coupled with an impressive 9.8 finishing average, has completed 3,026 of 3,106 total laps (97.4 percent) and has been running at the end of every event at the mile-and-a-half race track.

* Since We're Talking Las Vegas Stats ... Burton is the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series' third-best Quality Passer -- a statistic derived from the number of positions gained while running in the top 15 under green-flag conditions. Burton has gained an average of 40.6 spots over the last five events held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The South Boston, Va., native has also logged 1,109 of the last 1,356 laps (81.8 percent) running in the top 15. Burton is ranked third in NASCAR's Average Running Position category (9.4) and is fifth in the Driver Rating category (98.5). The Driver Rating is a formula that combines the following categories: wins, top-15 finishes, average running position while on the lead lap, average speed under green, fastest lap, most laps led and lead-lap finishes. The maximum a driver can earn in each race is 150 points. The Driver Rating number is used pre-race as a prediction tool and post-race as a performance evaluator.

* Berrier Leading the Charge ... Since being named crew chief of the Cat Racing team in September 2009, Todd Berrier, and driver Burton, have yet to finish outside the top 11. In last season's final four races, the dynamic duo captured a fifth-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway, a ninth-place effort at Texas Motor Speedway and back-to-back runner-up finishes at Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway. This year, Berrier has continued his charge by guiding Burton to an 11th-place effort in the season opener Daytona 500 and followed that up with a third-place finish in last weekend's race at Auto Club Speedway. All told, Berrier's No. 31 resume consists of four top-five, five top-10 and six top-11 finishes in six events.

* And the Winner Is ... On behalf of Caterpillar, Burton will attend the Contractor of the Year reception at Caesar's Palace on Friday, Feb. 26 beginning at 7 p.m. The Caterpillar-sponsored driver will participate in a question-and-answer session, assist with the award presentation and sign autographs for the attendants.

JEFF BURTON QUOTES:

You have a pretty good track record at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. What is it about this track that you like?

"Las Vegas is a track I'm comfortable racing on. I think we have learned a lot from previous races that has helped us have good starting points every time we unload there. So, based on the data we gathered from last year's event and off-season preparation, I know we'll have a competitive Caterpillar Chevrolet. Las Vegas always produces great racing and it's a race that fans really enjoy watching. It's a track that is fun to drive on because there are different grooves around the track, so you to find the groove that works best for you and your car."

You're currently fifth in the overall point standings. Are you anxious about this year based on your results thus far versus last year?

"I'm a lot more confident today than I was last year. I was concerned going into last year because I knew we had worked hard, but we didn't finish the previous year off strong. We did a tire test in January (2009) and we were pretty far off on speed. I was really sick and not feeling good and I kept saying that I am still fast when I'm sick, so it's not that. Then, it showed itself pretty quickly that we weren't very good. The tire test that we did this winter, combined with the way we ended last year, gives all the RCR teams a lot of confidence going into these races. We are much more prepared and have a better shot at doing well this year than we did last year."

How important is it to get off to a good start in the season?

"I've had good starts and I've not had good starts. When you have a good start, it enables you to just relax a little bit. You're going to have mistakes during the year and you're afforded a certain amount of them. Everybody is going to have some but, when you have them early, that means you can't have them later. There's a whole lot later coming up ahead. It's real nerve-wracking when you don't get off to a good start and the first three or four races don't go well. You're trying to play catch up and you're trying to make up what you lost. You can't make up what you lost -- what's done is done. It's a lot of pressure for those who got off to a bad start. Last year, Mark Martin got off to a slow start, but they were running well. When you're running well, you can kind of rest on that and say that things are going to turn for us. But, if you get off to a slow start because you're running poorly, that's when panic sets in. That's what happened to us last year and it's not a good place to be."

-source: rcr

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Mark Martin
Teams Richard Childress Racing