* Magic At The Monster Mile: Jeff Burton's Win Last Year Helped Provide Career Push * After Season's First 13 Races, Regan Smith In Lucky Career-Best Points Slot * Loop Data: Dover Could Prove A Slump-Breaker For Hamilton Jr. Putting It Into...
* Magic At The Monster Mile: Jeff Burton's Win Last Year Helped Provide Career Push
* After Season's First 13 Races, Regan Smith In Lucky Career-Best Points
* Loop Data: Dover Could Prove A Slump-Breaker For Hamilton Jr.
Putting It Into "Dover Drive": Jeff Burton's 2006 Win Started His Surge
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.(May 29, 2007) - Putting It Into "Dover-Drive:" Jeff Burton's 2006 Win Started His Surge DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 29, 2007) -- Jeff Burton (No. 29 Holiday Inn Chevrolet) had a good start to his 2006 season in both NASCAR Busch Series and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series competition, but after winning last year's Dover 200, both of his series seasons seemed to click.
Burton had ended a national series winless streak that dated back to 2001 with a NASCAR Busch Series win at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March last season, but it's the Dover win that truly launched his special year.
The 39-year-old South Boston, Va., native who is tied for fourth on the all-time series wins list with 24 -- two of those wins came in succession this year at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Atlanta -- ran off four top fives and five top-10 finishes in the remaining nine NASCAR Busch Series races on his schedule after he won at Dover one year ago.
The resurgence was also evident in his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup ride as he surged in the point standings to not only claim a spot in the 2006 Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, but took the lead after winning that series' fall race at Dover. He held on to the top spot for the subsequent three races before eventually finishing seventh, his first foray into the Premier Series top 10 since 2001.
And the surge continues. In addition to the two NASCAR Busch Series wins this year, Burton is ninth in the points, the first time since 1999 he's been in the top 10 more than once in the same season. He's also fifth in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup standings with one win.
Top-10 Shuffle: Smith, Blaney Up; Reutimann, Hamilton Jr. Down
After 13 weeks of racing, the NASCAR Busch Series point standings are on either side of the lucky scale depending on which driver you talk to.
After seven consecutive weeks in the top 10 with a high ranking of fifth, Bobby Hamilton Jr. (No. 35 McDonald's Ford) fell out of the standings after a season-worst 36th-place last Saturday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Hamilton is only four points out of finding his way back into the top 10, however.
David Reutimann (No. 99 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota) is also a bad-luck recipient as of late. After spending the last six weeks in the top 10, most recently ranked a career-high third following the event at Darlington Raceway, Reutimann is now fifth due to a 43rd place finish in Charlotte as a result of engine failure just four laps into the race. He's still well within striking distance of spots within the top five, though.
Those who consider 13 lucky include Regan Smith (No. 4 Ginn Resorts Chevrolet) who has tied Reutimann with 1,393 points and is sixth in the standings, a career-best for the Cato, N.Y., native. He's also the highest-ranked among series regulars and tied his career-best fifth-place finish at LMS.
Reutimann's misfortune pushed Dave Blaney (No. 10 Fan1st.com Toyota) back into third place and within striking distance of reigning series champion Kevin Harvick (No. 77 Dollar General Chevrolet). Blaney comes to Dover 169 points behind second place Harvick.
In The Loop: Hamilton Jr.'s Dover History Could East Recent Slump
Jeff Burton returns to Dover International Speedway this weekend to defend his NASCAR Busch Series win of a year ago. At that race, Burton flashed his veteran wile. Driving arguably only the third-best car in that race, he captured the checkered flag, nudging out Carl Edwards (No. 60 Dish Network Ford) and Clint Bowyer, who led 67 and 62 laps, respectively. Burton led 19.
Burton earned a Driver Rating of 122.1 in that event and also had an Average Running Position of 8.410, a race-high 41 Fastest Laps Run and a race-high 24 Fastest Laps Run. Overall at Dover, Edwards has a Driver Rating of 103.9 and an Average Running Position of 7.6.
Another driver to watch this weekend is Ragan Smith who made a charge up the point standings with a fifth-place finish last weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The performance, which matched his career-best finish, vaulted Smith from eighth to sixth place in the standings, another career mark.
He had the fourth-best Average Running Position (7.925), the fifth-best Driver Rating (105.7) and the eighth-fastest Green Flag Speed. Also, Smith spent only eight laps outside the top 15.
On the other hand, Bobby Hamilton Jr. has dropped from the top 10. Hamilton has struggled of late with finishes of 22nd, 20th and 33rd over his last three races. His fall peaked this past weekend in Charlotte, as he dropped from seventh to 12th in the standings.
Hamilton stats at LMS were below par as well. Hamilton had an Average Running Position of 36.315 and a Driver Rating of 38.1. Coming into the Lowe's race, he had a season-to-date Average Running Position of 22.477 and a Driver Rating of 64.3.
There is light at the end of the tunnel for Hamilton, though, who finished second at Dover in 2003 and fourth in '04, the last time he raced at at The Monster Mile in NASCAR Busch Series competition.