Burton, CAT Racing Team Notch Top-Five Finish in Wild Talladega Ending Jeff Burton and the CAT Racing team returned to top-five form after escaping two separate multi-car incidents in the closing stages of Sunday's AMP Energy 500 at Talladega ...
Burton, CAT Racing Team Notch Top-Five Finish in Wild Talladega Ending
Jeff Burton and the CAT Racing team returned to top-five form after escaping two separate multi-car incidents in the closing stages of Sunday's AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
The strong result snapped a 22-race streak with finishes outside the top five and allowed the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team to advance one position, to 17th, in the overall point standings. With three races remaining in the 2009 season, Burton & Company sit 315 markers behind David Reutimann in 16th and 20 points forward of Australian Marcos Ambrose in 18th.
With Mother Nature in the Talladega area for much of Saturday afternoon, Sprint Cup Series qualifying session was cancelled and the 43-car field was set according to the NASCAR rule book, leaving the No. 31 Caterpillar Impala SS with an 18th-place starting spot for the 500-mile showdown.
Three- and, sometimes, four-wide racing keeps drivers on their toes for an entire restrictor-plate event. This race was no different. Drivers, including Burton, jockeyed for position all day, quickly moving up and down the scoring pylon during the scheduled 188-lap contest.
Burton's strategy for the white-knuckle feature was easy -- race methodically, yet cautiously, and be up front at the end. His approach worked as he raced in the top 10 for almost half of the race, leading four different times for four laps.
After leading lap 151 and spending time in the top 10 for the next 19 circuits, the 21-time Sprint Cup Series winner was shuffled to the back of the field, running as low as 27th on lap 182. Luck was on the South Boston, Va., native's side when a multi-car incident in the front pack, including RCR teammate Kevin Harvick, broke out three laps later. Burton was able to drive past the melee and, after being placed under a red flag for 12-plus minutes for clean up, newly-appointed crew chief Todd Berrier preached to save fuel when engines were re-fired.
Riding around the 2.66-mile superspeedway under caution in 18th, two handfuls of competitors began running out of gas and made their way onto pit lane to re-fuel, leaving the veteran driver seventh for the lap-190, green/white/checkered restart.
As the field roared off Turn 4 and headed for the tri oval to take the white flag, a 13-car scuffle forced NASCAR to end the race under caution, allowing Burton to record a fifth-place finish.
Jamie McMurray returned to Victory Lane after snapping an 86-race winless streak, edging out Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano for the trophy. Greg Biffle finished fourth while Burton rounded out the top-five finishers.
Fellow RCR teammate Clint Bowyer came home 12th while other stable mates Kevin Harvick and Casey Mears posted 21st- and 25th-place finishes, respectively, after being involved in separate incidents in the latter stages of the event.
The stars of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series will be big and bright next weekend as the premier division in American motorsports heads for the Lone Star State.
"It's nice to finally get back in the top five. Luckily, our Caterpillar Impala SS was not involved in the incidents in the last few laps. Things are bound to happen in restrictor-plate events and luck was on our side today."