O'Reilly 300 an "Adventure" for Burton and CottonelleÂ® Aloe & E Racing Team Handling, aero issues result in 21st-place finish Fort Worth, TX (April 14, 2007) . Ward Burton had made 150 career NASCAR Busch Series starts prior to the O'Reilly...
O'Reilly 300 an "Adventure" for Burton and Cottonelle® Aloe & E Racing Team
Handling, aero issues result in 21st-place finish
Fort Worth, TX (April 14, 2007) . Ward Burton had made 150 career NASCAR Busch Series starts prior to the O'Reilly 300 at the Texas Motor Speedway. However, on Saturday afternoon, the Virginian veteran made his first ever Busch Series start at the 1.5-mile track. It was certainly a race that Burton will not soon forget.
On Thursday, April 12th, the Busch Series held practice and qualifying at the Texas Motor Speedway under sunny, beautiful skies. Burton, driving the Cottonelle® Aloe & E / Brookshire's Ford Fusion, was the 38th driver to make his qualifying attempt. He responded with a fast lap of 28.997 seconds / 186.226 mph to earn the 19th starting position in the 43-car field. After qualifying, the Busch cars were impounded by NASCAR officials until Saturday morning.
After having Friday off from on-track activity, the #27 Cottonelle® Aloe & E / Brookshire's team faced another issue Saturday morning. With a tornado just missing the Texas Motor Speedway on Friday, and a cold front following, the team was greeted by temperatures approximately 20 degrees colder than on qualifying day. And, with the cars impounded, only minor air pressure adjustments could be made prior to the race.
Starting from the 19th position, Burton reported just after taking the green flag that his Ford Fusion was "very tight in the turns". That handling condition intensified and Burton made contact with the outside retaining wall between turns one and two on lap nine. Ironically and unrelated, the #21 car made contact with the wall behind Burton bringing out the first caution period of the afternoon.
Burton brought the Cottonelle® Aloe & E Ford Fusion to pit road so that the crew could evaluate the damage to the right front, change right side tires, and reenter the race. Two laps later, Burton returned to pit road for left side tires and fuel. He would restart 40th on lap 12.
At the fifty lap mark, Burton had gained ten positions in the running order; however, he reported to Crew Chief Stewart Cooper that his car was beginning to get tight again in the front. Plus, Burton added that he "could not drive the car with anyone around him - the car kept losing grip to the track".
Burton was racing leader Kyle Busch on lap 55 when the caution waved. Many observers thought that Burton had passed Busch prior to the caution waving, thus placing the #27 Cottonelle® Aloe & E Ford back on the lead lap. NASCAR attempted to sort out the confusion, and decided that Burton would receive the "lucky dog" award and be placed on the lead lap for the restart. Burton would restart 24th on lap 61.
On lap 67, Burton raced back into 20th position, and reported that "the car turns better but that the aero balance was off". After another pit stop for adjustments during the next caution period on lap 73, Burton would restart 23rd. The car was temporarily better, but as the halfway point of the race approached, Burton reported that he was "back to no grip when racing in traffic".
On lap 114, Burton thought that he had a right rear tire going flat and pitted on lap 115 for four tires. Now running 29th, Burton reported that he had "no grip anywhere on the track and was having a hard time holding on". However, during the next thirty laps, Burton would gain five positions. When the fifth caution of the race flew on lap 162, Burton pitted for tires, fuel, and adjustments. Within two laps of the restart, Burton radioed Cooper to tell him the car was "the best it's been all day".
Even though Burton was two laps down to the leaders and facing aero issues with his car, the final fifteen laps were a "spirited" battle with the #90 car for a top twenty finish. Coming up just a couple car lengths short, Burton brought the Cottonelle® Aloe & E Ford to the checkered flag in 21st position.
"I'm confused on the handling and aero issues we experienced today," Burton commented. "I just couldn't get any grip and really had a problem controlling the car when I raced around other cars. Everybody on this team is working hard, and we're all working toward the same goal. We've got a much better team than our performance shows, but the good thing is we'll be back working hard next week for a strong race at Phoenix."