This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Pocono Raceway ... Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 302 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new for 2010, Burton drove this Caterpillar Chevy to a 12th-place finish at...
This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Pocono Raceway ... Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 302 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new for 2010, Burton drove this Caterpillar Chevy to a 12th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway last month where he overcame a pit road commitment line violation to be in contention for the win, leading with 10 laps to go. However, a nine-car incident brought out a lengthy red flag and after the engines re-fired and green-flag racing continued, the handling on the No. 31 Chevy went away in the closing laps and Burton held on to finish 12th. Most recently, the veteran driver piloted this No. 31 racer to a runner-up finish at Dover International Speedway three weeks ago.
The Pocono Report ... In 32 Sprint Cup Series starts at Pocono, Burton has posted seven top-five and 15 top-10 finishes. He has posted a best finish of second on two occasions - June 1997 and July 2000 - and has earned an 18.2 starting average combined with a respectable 16.4 finishing average and has led 104 laps of competition.
Rearview Mirror ... Burton and the Cat Racing team were poised for a top-five finish in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway but, with just under 20 laps remaining, a competitor's front splitter cut the left-rear tire on the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet that resulted in a 25th-place finish for the RCR team.
Testing, Testing, One-Two-Three ... The Todd Berrier-led team is participating in a NASCAR sanctioned tire test at Watkins Glen International on Tuesday, June 1 and Wednesday, June 2 in preparation for the upcoming Sprint Cup Series 90-lap event on August 8.
Welcome Home, Darin ... One member from the Cat Racing team hails from Pennsylvania. Car chief Darin Nestlerode grew up in Jersey Shore. In addition to his mechanic duties on the RCR entry, Nestlerode also holds the sign board during pit stops on race day. He and his wife, Paula, reside in Kernersville, N.C. and are heavily involved in the Triad Bloodhounds, a non-profit organization that trains K-9's in various areas: tracking lost persons, criminal tracking, cadaver, water recovery, explosive detection, article searches and weapon detection.
What are your thoughts heading into Pocono this weekend?
"Pocono is a track where I don't have a lot of laps led and any wins. I've been in position a few times and it's a place where I think I overdrive it too much. I hope to be on the good side of things this weekend. We don't have good finishes there. It's probably one of my worst tracks as far as finishes are concerned."
What has been the one thing that teams tend to struggle with at Pocono? "Our main struggle at Pocono is one of the three corners. We'll find two corners where we are good and then we'll have one corner where we are not so good. We haven't found the balance that will allow us to lay down lap times without sacrificing too much in one particular corner. The fun thing about Pocono and the difficult thing is that every corner is different. You have to be good in every corner and you can't sacrifice anything anywhere. Pocono is a very demanding race track physically and mentally. It's one of our toughest tests we have all year."
Is Pocono a tricky race track to navigate?
"It's hard. It has the longest front straightaway we go to. Turn one is really rough and slick and has a lot of bumps. The next straightway is really long, too, that leads into the tunnel turn, which I think is the most challenging corners in all of motorsports. Turn three is hard to get through because you typically have no grip there. Pocono is definitely a challenging race track."
You are in the top 10 in the point standings. How much of a scramble do you think it will be for you to stay in the top 12 given the points are tight between the seventh and 16th positions?
"We're halfway through the regular season and everyone is starting to feel the pressure. There certainly are some guys who will have a hard time in climbing their way up and there are a lot of us that could go either way. It's important to go through the summer months and not lose a lot of points. It doesn't matter how fast you are - they're only going to take the top 12."