Smart Pit Calls and Favorable Cautions Allow Burton, Holiday Inn Racing to Earn Ninth-Place Finish at Charlotte CONCORD, N.C. - Sound pit strategy, by way of favorable cautions, and a fast No. 29 Holiday Inn/Holiday Inn Express Chevrolet Impala...
Smart Pit Calls and Favorable Cautions Allow Burton, Holiday Inn Racing to Earn Ninth-Place Finish at Charlotte
CONCORD, N.C. - Sound pit strategy, by way of favorable cautions, and a fast No. 29 Holiday Inn/Holiday Inn Express Chevrolet Impala SS allowed Burton to score the Richard Childress Racing team's 21st top-10 finish of the season in Friday's Dollar General 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
The ninth-place finish allows the No. 29 team to remain sixth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series owners' point standings, 55 markers in arrears to Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 20 team, in fifth, and 170 points forward the Braun Racing's No. 32 entry, in seventh.
On Thursday, rain showers reduced practice time for NASCAR's junior division to one hour and 25 minutes. During their second run of the practice, the No. 29 team realized their left-front tire was slowly leaking air and had to be switched out for a fresh tire. For the remainder of the session, Burton & Co. were unable to gauge how the No. 29 was performing because the tires were not balanced. This ultimately transferred over to Friday's qualifying effort as the 27-time NNS race winner registered the 25th-fastest time.
Friday night's race marked Burton's 850th career NASCAR start and, as the green flag waved, it became apparent that his green, white and blue Impala SS was fast. Burton picked off 11 positions before the first yellow flag waved on lap 14.
Crew chief Doug Randolph elected to pit under caution for two tires and fuel, while the leaders ahead of Burton elected to stay out, placing the No. 29 team on a different pit cycle. A long green-flag run ensued when the 43-car field returned to action on lap 21, playing right into the No. 29 team's hands.
As competitors ahead of the South Boston, Va., native began making their first visits to pit road, Burton inherited the lead on lap 61. Three laps later, the caution flag was displayed, trapping those on the different pit cycle behind the No. 29 Chevrolet.
Burton led 24 laps before eventual race winner Kyle Busch passed him on lap 87. The solid run took a turn for the worse when a loose left-front tire forced the No. 29 team to make an unscheduled pit stop on lap 102, dropping them one lap down to the leaders.
As the race continued to remain under green-flag conditions, the RCR team patiently waited for the leaders to make their trips to pit road in hopes of getting back on the lead lap. Four laps before a lap-149 caution, Burton was back on the lead lap and running seventh. The evening's fourth yellow flag secured the No. 29 team's position on the lead lap for the remainder of the 300-mile race.
Over the final 51 laps, Burton raced between the seventh and 11th positions before taking the checkered flag ninth.
Kyle Busch dominated the race, leading 137 of the 200 laps to earn his seventh NNS victory of the season. Mike Bliss, Dave Blaney, Brian Vickers and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five finishers.
Next weekend, Stephen Leicht will be back behind the wheel of RCR's No. 29 Chevrolet as the NNS heads to Memphis (Tenn.) Motorsports Park.
Jeff Burton Quote: "Doug Randolph (crew chief) made a great call tonight to help gain us track position and allow us to run up front. The Holiday Inn Chevy showed consistent speed on the longer runs when other cars would fall off, and if we didn't have that loose wheel, I think we could've had a better finish."