Martinsville: Jeff Burton preview

* This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Martinsville Speedway ... Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 283 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new for the 2009 season, this is the same Caterpillar Chevrolet Burton...

* This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Martinsville Speedway ... Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 283 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new for the 2009 season, this is the same Caterpillar Chevrolet Burton drove to a 25th-place finish at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in July after a cut right-side tire during the latter stages of the Brickyard 400 spoiled the makings of a top-15 finish. The South Boston, Va., native also piloted this No. 31 racer to an 18th-place finish at Michigan International Speedway in August and to a 34th-place result at Atlanta Motor Speedway in September due to a vibration and a speeding penalty. Burton also drove this chassis at Dover International Speedway to a 16th-place effort in September and to a 14th-place result at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October. Since then, this black and yellow machine has been converted from its original downforce configuration into a short-track car.

* Martinsville Details ... In 31 starts at the Virginia oval, Burton boasts one win, 10 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes. Additionally, the 42-year-old holds a 17.2 starting average coupled with a 14.6 finishing average and has led 666 laps of competition. His lone victory at the 0.526-mile short track came in September 1997.

* Burton in the Loop at M-ville ... According to NASCAR's loop data statistics, the 17-year veteran has spent 2,748 of 5,011 (54.8 percent) laps running in the top 15 over the last 10 events at the paper clip-shaped oval. During his stints in the top 15, he has made 203 passes, ranking him 12th best amongst active drivers. Overall, Burton's driver rating of 84.5 places him 12th amid his competitors at his hometown track.

* Season Stats ... Over the season's five races, Burton has made 719 passes under green-flag conditions, the most of all current active drivers. Of those 719 passes, 425 of them were made by running in the top 15, which ranks the 1997 Martinsville race winner fifth best. He is also one of eight drivers who have completed all laps contested thus far. Burton also holds an 11th-place average finish and has led 47 laps of competition.

* Carry Me Back to Ole Virginia ... Four members of the CAT Racing team hail from the Old Dominion State. Caterpillar driver Jeff Burton was born and raised in South Boston. Mechanic and fuel runner Curt Bowman calls Meadows of Dan his hometown. Gear specialist Greg Meredith was born, and still resides, in Fancy Gap while tire specialist Tracey Ramsey hails from Fredericksburg.

JEFF BURTON:

How would you rate your recent runs at Martinsville under RCR's short-track program? "It is frustrating because it is a track that historically I have run very well on but I've struggled since I've come to RCR, which is odd because you really think of RCR as being a real short track company. I have to do a better job as a driver communicating what I need and paying attention to what other people are doing, but that's a tough race track. It's a very challenging race track and we need to step it up."

The spoiler returns to competition this weekend at Martinsville. Why do you think NASCAR decided to return to the spoiler?

"I think the majority of the reason that the wing is being changed is because of the way it looks. So, that means that I believe that the wing could have worked. And, we've seen that. If you look at the races at the middle and end of last year and the races this year, all those races have been good with the wing. I believe the car could be successful with the wing because we've seen it be successful but, by no means, do I think it can't be successful with the spoiler."

How do you set your car up at a short track like Martinsville?

"At most race tracks, you set your car up so you can go fast in the center of the corner and make good exit speed. For Martinsville, because everything happens so quick and the track is so short, when something is not going well on one part of the race corner, it really affects everything else. So, you' have to be able to have the entire corner working. If you don't, then you can't enter the corner how you want to and you can't exit it right. You have to have the entire corner working. If you're off just a little bit, it's a lot."

Being from South Boston, how cool was it to win the Cup Series race in 1997 at your home track?

"I was really sick when we won that race. I was really struggling and could hardly stand up. That's one of the most gratifying wins I've ever had because I passed Rusty (Wallace) on the outside before there was an outside (lane) to take the lead. We made a pit stop and he beat us out of the pits. There were a few cautions after that and each time, he kept jumping the restart and NASCAR warned him about that. Well, he did it again and they black flagged him. So, there I am leading the race and here comes Bobby Hamilton. He was on the inside and I was on the outside and I wanted to beat him. It was a really rewarding race because I had to work hard for it. Nothing came easy on that day."

-source: rcr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Bobby Hamilton