Jeff Burton Leads the Way to Lowe's Motor Speedway for Round Five of NASCAR Nextel Chase for the Cup Team Chevy Drivers Have Posted Wins in First Four Chase Races Team Chevy's Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Monte Carlo SS, is enjoying...
Jeff Burton Leads the Way to Lowe's Motor Speedway for Round Five of NASCAR Nextel Chase for the Cup
Team Chevy Drivers Have Posted Wins in First Four Chase Races
Team Chevy's Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Monte Carlo SS, is enjoying the view from the top of the standings in the 2006 Chase for the Nextel Cup. But, Burton knows with the strength of competition among the 10 drivers bidding for the coveted title, there is no room for error as the Chase hits the halfway point Saturday night at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
With just six points between first and second place in the standings and only 51 points between first and fifth place, the veteran driver knows how important each position and every point is in the Bank of America 500. After a flat tire foiled what looked to be an excellent run for Burton and his Richard Childress Racing (RCR) team at Talladega, he is looking to Lowe's Motor Speedway (LMS) with a positive and realistic attitude.
"I am proud of everything we did at Talladega," said Burton. "We did everything we needed to do. We had just a little bit of stuff not go our way. It is hard to feel lucky when you are running fifth with 10 to go and finish 27th. But we will take our points lead, keep going forward and keep a good attitude, as it should be, and see what happens at Charlotte."
Burton has two previous wins at LMS in 25 starts with five top-five and 11 top-10 finishes heading in to this weekend's event.
As a result of grabbing victories in the first four of the 10 Chase for the Cup races and a total of 31 Modern Era wins at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Team Chevy drivers would seem to have a leg up on the competition. Chevy has won six of the last seven races at LMS.
Having clinched the 2006 Manufacturers' Cup title, Team Chevy is looking to add to its 19 wins so far this year and eclipse the existing most-wins scored in a season. The previous best year for Chevy in Modern Era race wins was 1980. Chevy drivers scored 22 wins in a 31-race schedule.
Saturday night's 334-lap, 500-mile race on the 1.5 mile banked tri-oval will mark the second event on a new surface completed prior to the May 2006 Coca Cola 600. Team Chevy race teams are hoping that some of the "unpredictable" and "unknown" issues faced earlier this season will be less prevalent this time around.
Often referred to as "His House", all eyes will be on Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Lowe's Monte Carlo SS, who leads active drivers with five trips to LMS victory lane. He has led more laps, 884 total, than any active driver and has nine top-10 finishes in his 10 LMS races. His home field advantage this weekend will be pivotal in Johnson's quest in the Chase. He sits eighth in the standings, 156 points behind the leader.
"I think we'll all start the weekend concerned in remembering how finicky the track was in the spring race," said Johnson. "I would hope and think that it's evolved and will be much more of a tame race track with not as many issues and problems. I found out yesterday that we're still running the small fuel cell, which I didn't realize. But I think we're going to have a much better race this time than we did in the spring.
"It's a great place for us. We just show up and attack it. We approach the track the same way that we have. With all the different surface changes, there is still a certain way to drive the track with a certain style in how to get around there. I'm just going to show up and treat it like I always have and hopefully we'll get the same results."
Jeff Gordon, No 24 DuPont Monte Carlo SS, is one of only two active drivers with four wins at LMS. He also holds the record for most Bud Poles, seven in 27 starts at Charlotte. Both his first NNCS pole and win came at the track considered home to the majority of teams in the series. Gordon is currently seventh in the standings, 147 points out of first.
Although still waiting for his first Charlotte victory, Kevin Harvick, No. 29 GM Goodwrench Monte Carlo SS, has had good runs in 11 previous starts at LMS. In the Coca Cola 600, Harvick was a contender in the front of the field until a broken tailpipe translated to overheating the transmission. Harvick is quietly clicking off top-five finishes in the Chase and sits fourth in the standings, just 33 points behind Burton, his RCR teammate.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS, is the sixth place driver in the Chase, 106 points out of the lead. He also is looking to take his first trip to LMS winner's circle. In 14 previous starts, he has scored one pole, his career-first, three top-five and six top-10 finishes.
Raybestos Rookie Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Monte Carlo SS, also continues to slip in under the radar in his championship bid. The Joe Gibbs Racing youngster rides fifth in the standings, 51 points behind leader Burton. In two previous LMS starts, Hamlin has posted top-10 finishes in both events.
Kyle Busch, No. 5 Kellogg's Monte Carlo SS is in a tie for ninth and 10th in the championship standings, 185 points behind the leader. While having mastered LMS in the NASCAR Busch Series, Busch is looking to turn around is NNCS luck this weekend. In five previous Cup starts, he has missed the top-10 when the checkered flag flew.
Practice for the Bank of America is scheduled to begin at 3:45 p.m. EDT Thursday. Qualifying will be Thursday night beginning at 7:10 p.m. The race will start at 7:10 p.m. EDT on Saturday night. Performance Radio Network and NBC TV will bring fans live coverage beginning at 7:00 p.m.
-credit: gm racing