This Week's Cat Financial Chevrolet at Talladega Superspeedway ... Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 312 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend's 500 miler. Built new this season, Burton drove this No. 31...
This Week's Cat Financial Chevrolet at Talladega Superspeedway ... Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 312 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend's 500 miler. Built new this season, Burton drove this No. 31 racer to a fifth-place finish in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway in July.
One Year Ago ... Todd Berrier took over crew chief duties on the No. 31 Caterpillar team at Talladega exactly one year ago. Together, Burton, Berrier and the Cat Racing team have posted nine top-five and 19 top-10 finishes in 36 starts. Berrier's RCR career began as a fabricator in 1994. Since then, the Kernersville, N.C., native has earned 19 victories as a crew chief in the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. He won the 2001 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship, the 2003 Brickyard 400 and the 2007 Daytona 500, all with driver Kevin Harvick.
Talladega is everyone's "X" factor race in the Chase. Do you look at this race as wanting to survive it or an as an opportunity?
"I look at it as an opportunity to gain points. We're behind in points and we need to gain some, so I look at it as an opportunity. When you're behind a little bit, you're looking for odd things to happen and, certainly, Talladega is a place where odd things can happen. In the spring race, we were really fast. We thought we had a great shot to win the race. A piece of debris got on the grill late in the race and we had to pit. We ended up getting in a wreck right after that, but we were leading the race when the caution came out. We were really fast so, for me, I'm looking forward to going to that race track. You know there's a good chance you might get in a wreck, but there's a good chance other people will get in a wreck, too. You just go and try and run the best you can. Honestly, it's hard to say this, but you can't worry about it. You have to try not to cause a wreck, and you try not to get in one."
At the spring race in Talladega, no matter what crew chief you talked to, they said an Earnhardt - Childress Racing engine was going to win. Your teammate Kevin Harvick went on to win. Are you guys just as strong, and how does it feel knowing you have one of those engines under the hood?
"Well, we don't know what our competition has done. The thing about restrictor-plate racing is people are constantly working on making it better. All the companies that build engines are always trying to tweak their restrictor plate program, as well as their open motor program. We know what we've done, and we hope what we've done has made our engines better than the competition. The other teams have worked hard, too. So, we don't know what we have until we get there."
Where do you like to run in a restrictor-place race?
"I've run in the back and the two times that I have, I've gotten in a wreck. I'm much more prone to try and lead some laps and run in the front."
What is it like racing at Talladega Superspeedway?
"I'm always nervous to run at Talladega. You have to go into that race thinking that there is going to be a multi-car incident and how to miss it. To me, it's a stressful Sunday morning and once the race gets going, I calm down. But, as the laps start winding down, the intensity level just goes through the roof. It's unbelievable how you can feel it there more than any other race track. At every other race track, if you're racing for the lead you might be racing with maybe two or three other guys. At Talladega, you're contending with 30 drivers. When the intensity level increases for 30 people versus three, it changes the way you race."
Where do you want to be on the last lap?
"Talladega has the potential of being a 20-car pack with 23 others in the garage or the potential to be a 35-car pack. The bigger the pack, the more danger you are in being in the front. If something happens with three to go and the first four cars break away, then being in the front is not as dangerous. Being in the front is dangerous when the guys in front can get momentum and come get you. I do believe with the old car you were more protected up front than you are in the new car. You seem to be more of a sitting duck with the new car."