Stoddard-Burton duo set for championship chase

CONCORD, N.C. (February 5, 2001) -- CITGO SUPERGARD Ford crew chief Frank Stoddard has emerged as one of the top crew chiefs in the Winston Cup Series. His troop, the 2000 World Pit Crew Champions, along with driver Jeff Burton are clear...

CONCORD, N.C. (February 5, 2001) -- CITGO SUPERGARD Ford crew chief Frank Stoddard has emerged as one of the top crew chiefs in the Winston Cup Series. His troop, the 2000 World Pit Crew Champions, along with driver Jeff Burton are clear favorites to compete for the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup Championship. In order to achieve that goal, Stoddard and Burton plan to capitalize on what catapulted them to the top in the first place, teamwork.

"The bottom line for success in this sport and most other sports is teamwork," stated Stoddard. "We could have a surplus of talent but if the team doesn't gel and doesn't work well together we'd be fighting a losing battle. Our team works toward common goals - winning and giving Jeff the best possible racecar each and every week."

The Stoddard-led crew knows what it takes to win and they've proved it ten times in the past two seasons. According to Stoddard, "Winning races keeps us going. Fans and the media are able to judge our success by where we finish each week. We race every week to win but if we can't win we have to salvage the best possible finish.

"Our biggest challenge for 2001 is to eliminate mechanical failure. We need to make sure we finish each and every race. We need to continue to give Jeff the equipment he needs. The guys need to continue to do a great job at preparing the car. Jeff also needs to do his part at not putting himself in a position to not finish a race or to jeopardize finishes."

After completing a successful 2000 season, Stoddard quickly shifted his focus to 2001 and with it came the goal to be the best team in NASCAR and win the coveted Winston Cup. Stoddard says the team enjoyed a successful off-season. How would a crew chief measure a successful off-season?

"We returned our entire team for the 2001 season," stated Stoddard. "With most of the NASCAR teams centered in and around the Charlotte area, crew guys have ample opportunity to take their toolbox down the street. We kept the team together which means we'll be able to start the season with the same resources we ended 2000 with."

The biggest test between the off-season and where a team ranks is simple, The Daytona 500. "It's nice to start the year with a good run at Daytona but one race will not make or break our year," said Stoddard regarding the Super Bowl of NASCAR racing. "Not finishing four or five races will certainly eliminate our chances of winning a championship but the point system doesn't reward a win at Daytona any different than a win the following week at Rockingham. For us to win it all, we have to avoid the misfortune and capitalize on finishing well when we have the chance."

Stoddard's planned final destination in 2001 is the championship table at the NASCAR banquet in New York City. His plan to succeed is thorough but the obstacles in his way consists of 42 other NASCAR teams and drivers with the same aspirations. For the Stoddard-Burton duo, the answer is and always will be teamwork.

-Doug Cox

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton