Ward Burton returns to Speedweeks as defending champ

HIGH POINT, NC (Feb 4, 2003) -- Ward Burton, driver of the No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge owned by Bill Davis Racing, returns to Daytona International Speedway in unfamiliar territory.a champion of the Daytona 500. After several low points in his 2002...

HIGH POINT, NC (Feb 4, 2003) -- Ward Burton, driver of the No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge owned by Bill Davis Racing, returns to Daytona International Speedway in unfamiliar territory.a champion of the Daytona 500. After several low points in his 2002 season, Burton is looking forward to a fresh start and what better place to get that then returning to competition as the defending champion.

"For the first time in my career, I am looking forward to returning for Speedweeks," said Burton. "Even with all the pressure and media attention, it is a great honor to have won the Daytona 500. At the time of the win, I was so overwhelmed with emotion and media and sponsor obligations that it all just seemed surreal. Now, I have a full understanding on what it's about and I am hopeful to have the chance to get back into victory lane and do it again."

Burton has a lot to smile about these days and it isn't all attributed to being the defending champion of the Daytona 500. He has a new crew chief - Frank Stoddard remains as the crew chief after filling in as crew chief for the remaining seven races of the 2002 season - and a lightening bolt fast pit crew that is ready to take on the competition.

"I truly believe that we are beginning the race season more organized and better prepared than we ever have been," added Burton. "We had a couple of holes in our program and Frankie, with the help of Bill and his support system, has been able to fill in those holes."

Stoddard brings fresh ideas and renewed confidence for Burton. Stoddard's resume speaks volumes with 14 wins and over $20 million in winnings. The Caterpillar Racing team is hopeful that that knowledge will spark a fire among the No. 22 team.

"Frank is a very dedicated and hardworking person with a mind that is working at always trying to outsmart the competition," said Bill Davis, owner of the No. 22 CAT Dodge. "He has an impressive resume that includes making smart calls on pit road and commanding a team that had to come from the back to the front a lot."

The Caterpillar Team is not setting their mark too high, but within arms reach. They hope that the 2003 season will bring renewed confidence and consistency to the program. If the consistency returns, the top-10s, top- fives and hopefully the wins will follow.

"We have some stiff competition out there," said Stoddard. "If we can bring the No. 22 back to where they were a couple years ago, a top-10 team, we will have made great strides. Right now, we need to build our team and make it better and the rest will follow as a result."

The Caterpillar team kicks off Speedweeks on top and their desire is to emerge a repeat winner in the most coveted race of the season.

-bdr-

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton
Teams Bill Davis Racing