Burton Takes Third at Martinsville, Roush teams continue to struggle by Thomas Chemris Martinsville VA Jeff Burton showed some of his potential at the Virginia 500, leading laps and finishing 3rd. Set back in the field by a late caution pit...
Burton Takes Third at Martinsville, Roush teams continue to struggle
by Thomas Chemris
Jeff Burton showed some of his potential at the Virginia 500, leading laps and finishing 3rd. Set back in the field by a late caution pit stop, the 99 team clearly demonstrated that they retain the talent that placed them in the top three in points at the end of the 2000 season.
A performance that made the team one of the odds on favorites for this year's champion. However Burton and his Roush teammates, most notably Mark Martin have not faired as well in 2001.
The entire Roush organization has not performed to the standards that we are accustomed to seeing.
Of the current stable, Burton, Martin, Kenseth, and rookie Kurt Busch, the highest in the current point standings is Kenseth in 17th place. The multi car team has, and a total of 2 top fives, 6 top tens.
Team owner Jack Roush notes, "We have had a really rough start to this year, the new tires have a much different feel and requires some different strategies as far as how often and how many you change. We have adapted about average, or may be a little behind the learning curve."
Referring to the new compounds that Goodyear has introduced this season. Important to team performance because the way the tire adapts to each racetrack will determine how the team sets the car up.
In many ways the new tires have equalized the field, because in many ways previous set up notes are ineffective with the new compound.
Roush is optimistic about the future of his teams. " I think it is a good tire, I think it is only going to save the teams money and make the racing better, in many ways it has already done that"
As far as how individual Roush drivers are adapting to the changes, "Jeff Burton has had the most trouble of my drivers. He says that the tire has an entirely different feel to it, he does not have the confidence in what the car can do on that tire, and how far you can slide before you have a problem. Of course we have misjudged a few times and had some wrecks on account of it. I think Mark is also having a little trouble, but not as much as Jeff, and so has Kenseth, but I can say that every driver on every team has had trouble, but not as much as Mark & Jeff have had".
The lack of performance in the Roush organization has created a stir in the rumor mill that drivers were looking for other options with different teams, Burton denounced the speculation, and the Team owner commented on how distracting this can be.
"Ther are slow news days, and the critics of the team are quick to make stretches of what is known about situations, There has been no consideration of the drivers moving, nor has there been any decent ion in the teams on account of what has been going on. The things that have been written have been a distraction and an irritation, but there is no truth to it".
After Sundays performance, there seems to be a light of hope for the Multi car team, three of the four Rush drivers led, Burton finished an impressive 3rd., Kenseth 6th.Kurt Bush and Mark Martin had their share of troubles finishing 33rd and 40th respectively.