Skip Barber trained Ward Burton and Dodge brought their new partnership to an old speedway and left with an impressive victory at the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.
The deserving driver and team won the race. Burton, who crashed in qualifying Friday, helped his team rebuild the car Saturday morning, twice raced from the back to the front, and made the right moves at the end.
The South Boston, Virginian, who generally excels at older speedways (two of his three career victories have been at Darlington and one at Rockingham), won for the first time since spring Darlington in 2000. The victory marks the second in three races for Dodge in Winston Cup competition.
Burton started 37th, making him the second driver in two years to win this race from a provisional spot. He had the honor of beating the best, keeping his car clean in holding back fellow Skip Barber trained racers Jeff Gordon and Bobby Labonte, who have won two of the past three championships. Burton and his brother Jeff have won four of the past six races here. Earlier, Jeff won Saturday's Busch race and he drove to fifth Sunday after being nearly a lap down.
Overcoming his accident in qualifying made his feat all the more remarkable.
"I felt so guilty about what happened in qualifying. I stood in there and worked with them [Saturday morning]," said Ward. "NASCAR let them get in an hour early, and we started back working on it about 8:00 [a.m.]. We finished about 20 minutes before practice. The whole weekend was just a tremendous effort. The guys just put a tremendous effort into this day. The pit crew definitely played a part in winning this race."