HIGH POINT, NC - At the track known as "Too Tough To Tame," Darlington Raceway has been very good to the Burton family. Ward Burton, driver of the No. 22 Caterpillar Racing Pontiac, captured his second victory in the Mall.com 400 in March.
HIGH POINT, NC - At the track known as "Too Tough To Tame," Darlington Raceway has been very good to the Burton family. Ward Burton, driver of the No. 22 Caterpillar Racing Pontiac, captured his second victory in the Mall.com 400 in March. Burton's victory ended a five-year, 132-race winning drought. "I couldn't have thought of a better place to finally get that win," said Burton. "I used to camp near the track and attend the races there with my father, brothers and friends when I was younger. It is a very special track, one with a lot of history and one of the last of its type left on our circuit. "Darlington, besides Daytona, is the biggest place to win. This is the place that David Pearson, Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough and Bobby Allison were winning races at when I was growing up. To win where they've won is very rewarding." Burton led 188 of 293 laps and finished over one-second ahead of reigning Winston Cup Champion Dale Jarrett. His crew clicked off lightening-fast pit stops throughout the race and the last coming with 40 laps remaining, gained him .5-seconds. Everything went perfectly for Burton and his Caterpillar Racing team. "It was our day," admitted Burton. "The guys on pit road did an outstanding job all day and they gave me the best car. We went there and we beat the other 42 cars because we had a car that was better." Not only was it Burton's first victory since he won at Rockingham in October 1995, it was Pontiac's first victory at Darlington Raceway since Joe Weatherly won the Rebel 300 in 1963. It is also only the third time in 94 races that Pontiac has won at Darlington Raceway. Burton's Bill Davis Racing team exploded from the box in 2000. They have been a quiet contender for the NASCAR Winston Cup Championship for the majority of the season, often going unrecognized. After Burton's victory in the Mall.com 400 at Darlington Raceway, the team moved to fourth in the point standings. Then after a third-place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway the next week, the team advanced to second in the standings. They remained in the top four in points until a 28th-place finish at Pocono Raceway in June relegated them to seventh. Bill Davis, car owner of the No. 22 Caterpillar Racing team, admits his team often gets little recognition as a serious contender. "We've been in the hunt for the majority of the season, but never seem to get the recognition that we deserve," said Davis. "This team has progressed nicely with the additions of Tommy Baldwin and Doug Randolph, among others. They have done a phenomenal job at giving this team a boost. "We'll continue to grow and continue to get better. I'd like to see us get one more win before the year ends. What better place than to have it come at Darlington?" If Burton - Ward that is - can sweep both Darlington events, he'll join the likes of brother Jeff (1999), Jeff Gordon (1996), Dale Earnhardt (1990, 1987), Bill Elliott (1985), David Pearson (1976), Bobby Allison (1975) and Richard Petty (1967). Burton finished second behind younger brother Jeff in last year's Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. Three times, including the Southern 500, Burton finished second to his younger brother. He would like nothing more than to join his brother's name on the list of drivers to "sweep" at Darlington Raceway. "If we beat Jeff's team or any of the other 42 teams out there, than we're doing our job. It gets tougher each week. We've seen a lot of winners this year and we have a tight battle for the championship. That proves that it's tougher than ever to win at this level. I'd like to get back to victory lane this year and Darlington would be a great place for that." Burton hopes to turn return to his dominating ways at the Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend. If he can do that, he'll extend the Burton winning streak to four in a row at Darlington Raceway.