Charlotte II: Jeff Burton race report

Burton, Cat Racing Overcome Setbacks to Score Top-20 Finish Jeff Burton and the Cat Racing team overcame a couple of setbacks in Saturday night's NASCAR Banking 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to achieve a top-20 finish. The less-than-desired...

Burton, Cat Racing Overcome Setbacks to Score Top-20 Finish

Jeff Burton and the Cat Racing team overcame a couple of setbacks in Saturday night's NASCAR Banking 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway to achieve a top-20 finish.

The less-than-desired result cost them two spots in the Chase for the Sprint Cup hunt with five races remaining before the curtains close on the 2010 season. Despite moving to 10th in the standings, the Todd Berrier-led crew find themselves in a tight points battle with competitors who rank fifth through 12th. The No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team is just two markers behind ninth, 14 in arrears to eighth, 39 outside the seventh-place tally and 62 points on the cuff of cracking the top five.

After posting the 18th-fastest lap during Thursday night's time trials session, the Chevrolet was slated on the outside of row nine for the 334-lap event. Burton gained one position in the early going but a two-tire pit call under the night's second caution period allowed the 2008 Charlotte fall race winner to crack the top 10 on lap 31 and then the top five 36 laps later.

Requiring rear grip to help him navigate around the 1.5-mile Concord facility better, Berrier summoned Burton to pit road and directed the over-the-wall crew to a host of changes during the lap-108 slowdown. The South Boston, Va., native restarted seventh, but as cold temperatures swarmed the area, the handling on the Chevrolet went away and, as a result, he dropped to 22nd in the rundown by the halfway mark.

Although continued adjustments to the No. 31 Chevrolet during three scheduled trips to pit road over the next 70-plus circuits didn't seem to help the 2010 Chase contender perfect his line around the race track, he was able to advance his position to 16th by lap 246. But, soon after, the RCR entry got away from him and he spun in Turn 1 while trying to make a pass on his teammate Clint Bowyer.

Savvy driving by Burton and the drivers behind him allowed him to come out unscathed and he drove the black and yellow machine to pit road for fresh tires and slight repairs before returning to action 24th on lap 250.

He maintained that position over the next run and the deep-in-the-field position negatively affected his handling in traffic that resulted in the loss of one lap to the leader 47 laps later.

However, a timely caution flag displayed on lap 308 permitted the veteran driver to return to the lead lap by way of the Lucky Dog rule for being the first car one lap down. The caution period also allowed the No. 31 pit crew team to take their time and ensure that all adjustments, newly-bolted tires and the body on the Chevrolet were good to go for the final 22 laps.

Having to start at the rear of the field, including behind those who were multiple laps down, Burton had his work cut out for him. He quickly picked off car after car before reaching those who were on the lead lap, passing Tony Stewart for 20th on lap 327 and taking the checkered flag eight laps later in that same position.

Jamie McMurray held off Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson to score his third victory of the season. The balance of the top-five finishers consisted of Denny Hamlin and Greg Biffle.

RCR teammates Kevin Harvick and Bowyer finished eighth and 17th, respectively.

Next weekend, NASCAR's senior circuit heads slightly north to the Dominion State when it makes its second and final stop of the season at the paper clip-shaped oval speedway in Martinsville for Round 5 of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

JEFF BURTON: "We came into this race with a lot of confidence in our Chevrolet. It was really fast in the beginning of the race, but we couldn't get a handle on producing more rear grip in the latter stages of the race when the temperatures cooled. I tried to make something happen when I spun and it, obviously, didn't work out well for us, but I'm proud of the Cat Racing team for not giving up and their determination to keep working on the car. Our finish could have been a lot worse, but we all fought together and we'll keep fighting over these final five races."

-source: rcr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Tony Stewart , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Jimmie Johnson , Jamie McMurray , Clint Bowyer , Denny Hamlin , Kyle Busch
Teams Richard Childress Racing