Ward Burton given green light for Richmond

Bill Davis, owner of the Dodge Intrepid R/Ts driven by Ward Burton and Dave Blaney on the NASCAR Winston Cup Circuit, said late Wednesday afternoon that Burton will drive the No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge in Saturday night's Pontiac Excitement 400 at...

Bill Davis, owner of the Dodge Intrepid R/Ts driven by Ward Burton and Dave Blaney on the NASCAR Winston Cup Circuit, said late Wednesday afternoon that Burton will drive the No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge in Saturday night's Pontiac Excitement 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

"Ward went (to Winston-Salem, N.C.) today to get checked out (by Dr. Charles Branch), and they cleared him to drive Saturday night," Davis said. "I want to make sure Ward's all right, and it would be fine with me if he didn't drive, but he's determined to do it. We'll probably have somebody standing by just in case we need some help. We haven't talked about it yet, but we'll probably get Scott Wimmer (Davis' Busch Grand National driver) to help out if we need him."

WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)

Burton said Wednesday night that he was feeling "a lot better" after getting the OK from Dr. Branch earlier in the day at Wake Forest University Medical Center.

"He told me he'd checked six or eight drivers who'd had concussions the past two years and that I looked terrific after having one just three days ago," Burton said. "It's healed a lot and will continue to heal the next two days. The doctor said I would not jeopardize myself competing at Richmond Saturday night.

"I've seen the accident (with Mark Martin at California Speedway) on film, and I remember what the car was doing. We were picking some guys off. Mark went in the corner too deep and got my left rear and that was it.

"I had tried to adjust my driving style and the team was trying to adjust. In fact, we were just trying to start over at California. I'd talked to (engine builder) Terry Elledge for about seven hours last Tuesday, and we were going to make some changes. We didn't get the end results we wanted, but we were competitive at California and we're going to keep working in that direction."

Burton says Wimmer is a good choice to stand by for him Saturday night. "I don't think I'll need anyone, but Scott is not that much bigger than I am, so he should be able to fit in my seat if he needs to," Burton said.

Wimmer competed in last year's Winston Cup season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He started 31st, led nine laps and finished 22nd. Wimmer is a Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender in the Busch Series this season and currently ranks second in the rookie standings behind Greg Biffle.

Burton was injured in an accident at California Speedway last Sunday. He sustained a concussion and was held overnight Sunday in a local hospital for observation. Burton was released from the hospital Monday night and returned home to Virginia on Tuesday. The 39-year-old South Boston, Va., native has been driving for Davis since 1995. He's won six poles and two races in 224 career starts and currently ranks 19th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings after finishing in the top 10 the past two seasons.

"I got knocked silly, there's no doubt about that," Burton said. "I probably didn't start remembering things until 7:30 or 8 o'clock the next night. I'm going to start working out about 90 percent Thursday morning, spend some time with my lovely wife and two kids and start some neck therapy. Friday morning, I plan to get up and drive about an hour and 45 minutes to Richmond.

"My neck is sore and my shoulder is bruised and sore and my muscles are a little tight. I learned a lot from what happened on and off the track last week. I haven't seen it (Simpson head restraint device) since the accident, so I don't know how to comment on that right now. I don't know if I'll be wearing it at Richmond or not. There will be a lot of tests done with that one and some other ones and we'll get some new information about how it worked or what could be done to make it better."

-Dodge Motorsports

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton , Greg Biffle , Scott Wimmer , Mark Martin