Martinsville II: Round 32 preview

Halfway Home In The Chase: Jeff Burton Looking Strong Midway Through The Chase, Burton The Man To Beat DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 17, 2006) -- At the halfway point of the 2006 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular ...

Halfway Home In The Chase: Jeff Burton Looking Strong

Midway Through The Chase, Burton The Man To Beat

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Oct. 17, 2006) -- At the halfway point of the 2006 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, Jeff Burton (No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet) has established himself as the man to beat for the series championship.

Following a solid third-place finish this past Saturday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Burton gained 39 points over his closest competitor, as second place Matt Kenseth (No. 17 R&L Carriers Ford) now trails Burton by 45 points heading into this Sunday's Subway 500 at Martinsville Speedway (12:30 p.m., NBC).

But, with the unpredictability of Martinsville's .526 mile short track style of racing, this Sunday's race certainly lends itself to being capable of adding plenty of drama into the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.

Burton has been a model of consistency through the first five races of the Chase and is the only driver to post four top-10 finishes during this stretch. Even though four other Chase drivers claimed top 10 performances at Lowe's, Burton increased his lead in the standings and for the fourth straight week, sits atop the leader board. Burton has been so steady over the past five weeks, that Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) dubbed him the "Ice Man" last Saturday night, as the veteran driver continues to "freeze out" his competition even though there have been strong showings turned in by more than half of the other Chase teams. Despite his strong start in the Chase, Burton also knows that things can turn around the other way in a hurry.

"We've had some good fortune, and we've run well, and hopefully we can keep doing both," said Burton. "At the same time, five races is a long time. You can go from having all of your stuff together and really feeling good about yourself to really figuring you can't run a lick. We're not going to take ourselves too seriously just yet. We still have a lot of work to do."

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Burton , Matt Kenseth