Perseverance Nets Burton, Cat Racing Team Top-20 Finish in Atlanta Jeff Burton and the Cat Racing team overcame myriad setbacks to score a top-20 finish in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Despite the undesired result, the No.
Perseverance Nets Burton, Cat Racing Team Top-20 Finish in Atlanta
Jeff Burton and the Cat Racing team overcame myriad setbacks to score a top-20 finish in Sunday's Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Despite the undesired result, the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team gained one spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings and now sit sixth after four races of the 2010 season. Burton is 106 markers behind point leader and RCR teammate Kevin Harvick and 20 points behind fellow teammate Clint Bowyer's fifth-place tally.
Race weekend began with the Todd Berrier-led crew turning in the 24th-fastest time in Friday's opening practice session. That translated into the afternoon's qualifying session where the South Boston, Va., clocked the 22nd-fastest time on the 1.54-mile quad oval, positioning the Caterpillar Chevy on the outside of row 11 for Sunday's scheduled 500-mile feature.
Still wanting more out of the same chassis that finished third a couple of weeks ago at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., Berrier and his 10-member squad worked on an array of setups during Saturday's twin practice sessions. Although their never-give-up attitudes found them 20th fastest in the first session, it paid dividends when the final practice concluded and the No. 31 Chevy was listed sixth fastest on the board.
A temperamental Caterpillar Chevy welcomed the veteran driver to the planned 325-lap event, where he spent the first half of the race jockeying between the 11th and 26th positions. But, as the race wore on, the handling of the black and yellow machine continually got better and Burton's lap times were competitive with those of the frontrunners.
However, the turning point of the day came four laps shy of the half way mark when Burton radioed to his crew that the No. 31 Chevy lost its brakes. Whenever possible under caution, Berrier would summon his driver down pit lane to work on the brakeless entry, but the unfortunate situation would result in two separate speeding penalties that placed the 21-time Sprint Cup Series race winner two laps down with less than 50 laps to go.
Cautions at laps 288 and 324 afforded the Cat Racing team the chance to utilize the wave around rule where the duo of Berrier and Burton chose not to pit and be waved around the pace car that, ultimately, put the team back on the lead lap.
Restarting 17th for the second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish and hoping to inherit a number of spots before the checkered flag would wave, Burton held on to his Caterpillar Chevy and raced with the best of them. Unfortunately, he got trapped behind a car with a flat tire and had no where to go. Despite losing three positions in the process, the RCR driver was able to score a top-20 finish and persevered to finish on the lead lap with a race car that did not have brakes.
Kurt Busch scored the victory while Matt Kenseth, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kasey Kahne and Paul Menard rounded out the top-five finishers.
Harvick rebounded to finish ninth after spending the majority of the race hindered in traffic. Bowyer became a victim of circumstance on the day's first attempt at a green-white-checkered restart when he was tagged in a multi-car incident while running in the top five. He went on to finish 23rd.
After enjoying a weekend off, Burton and the Cat Racing team head to Bristol, Tenn., the home of the "World's Fastest Half Mile."
"A 20th-place finish is not what we came here to get, but it was a hard fought effort by everybody on the Cat Racing team. We lost the brakes on the No. 31 Chevy halfway through the race and, because of that, I sped down pit road twice coming to pit. That put us a couple of laps down but I have to praise Todd (Berrier, crew chief) and the entire team for not giving up. They got the Caterpillar Chevy handling better and put me in position to get my laps back at the end. Unfortunately, I was trapped behind a car that had a flat tire on the last restart and wasn't able to pass any cars. But, hats off to everyone on this team for all of their hard work."