This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Richmond International 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...
This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Richmond International 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 in April 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, this No. 31 racer competed at Dover International Speedway where Burton scored a runner-up finish.
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.
Richmond is one of your favorite tracks. Why? "I just think for the teams, for the fans and for everybody that it takes to make this sport work, it's the best all-around track. Richmond has good racing action. It's big enough where it's not wreck after wreck, but small enough where it's close side-by-side action since you have multiple grooves. To me, it's a really hard race track to beat, competition-wise. I take a lot of pride in running well at Richmond. Being from Virginia, Richmond is where I went as a kid to watch Cup Series racing and it's a special place for me to come back to."
This is the second time you are heading to Richmond with a Chase spot already secured. What mindset do you have coming into this weekend's race? "When you clinch, you get to go to Richmond and be in the shape to run really hard. That's how the Cat Racing team is going to run in the Chase - we are going to run it really hard. We are going to kick it off this weekend in Richmond and just bring everything we have. There's no more protecting now. It is go time and we have to lay it all on the line."
Do you sympathize with the drivers who come to Richmond who have to fight their way in? "Oh, yeah. The pressure that those drivers will go through is just unbelievable. It's not what you want to go through. You want to be able to clinch earlier than coming to Richmond. But, this is what our sport is about. You have to be able to operate under pressure. You have to be able to do your best under pressure and, if they get into that mind set, they'll handle it well."
You finished fourth and led 20 laps at Richmond earlier this season. Looking back, is that a race you think you could have won? "Yeah, we were pretty fast. We weren't quite where we needed to be, but we ran well and put ourselves in a position to win the race. That's what we were looking to do. If we put ourselves in position enough, we'll get our wins."
There were only six cautions and no major incident in the first race of the year at Richmond. Did that surprise you to have such a clean race on, basically, a short track? "Well, we've seen a lot of hard racing this year, but I don't think the number of cautions has gone up except late in the race. I think that's a good thing - the fact that we can race hard on a short track and not have a lot of cautions. A lot of cautions are very disruptive. It really affects the quality of the race. It gets to the point where it's ridiculous. People come to watch racing and, if you have too many cautions, it's not really racing."