This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Lowe's Motor Speedway ... Jeff Burton will pilot chassis No. 307 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600. This Caterpillar Impala will be put through its...
This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Lowe's Motor Speedway ... Jeff Burton will pilot chassis No. 307 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600. This Caterpillar Impala will be put through its first paces of competition this weekend.
Meet the Driver ... On behalf of Coca-Cola, Burton will sign autographs at the Wal-Mart store located at 150 Concord Commons in Concord, N.C. from 4:45 - 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Three hundred tickets will be given out on a first come, first serve basis.
You won the fall race in 2008 and followed that up with disappointing finish last year. What are your thoughts for Sunday's 600-mile race? "We were not good at all last year. We were behind on speed and I was trying to go a little harder than I needed to. That's one thing a driver has to do, especially in a 600-mile race, is to know what your limitations are because there are so many opportunities for mistakes. We're bringing a new car for the Coca-Cola 600 that we hope is capable of winning the race. We just have to fine tune the Caterpillar Chevy, have good decision making and execute at the end."
Is the added 100 miles a factor in determining the race winner? "The last 100 miles has a major influence on the race. If you look back on previous races, drivers leading at the 400 or 500-mile mark don't win the race. It's not because of mechanical failures. The added distance gives the drivers in second, third and fourth a chance to make his car better. It gives the driver leading a chance to make a mistake. So, the extra 100 miles is definitely a factor."
How important is it to qualify well for a 600-mile race? "The reason it's a big deal to start up front at Charlotte is the transition from day to night. You can set your car up to be better at night and be willing to give up some positions early. If you're starting deep in the field, you can't afford to do that. Typically, there are a lot of green-flag runs at Charlotte and starting up front gives you a buffer if things don't go well early on when the sun is out."
How do you prepare for a 600-mile race that starts late in the day? "Running the Coca-Cola 600 is a long day's work. It's the longest race of the year and it starts late in the day, so those two things makes it harder. Waiting to start the race is emotionally hard. With so many different race day schedules - east coast, west coast, night race, afternoon race - it's hard for your body to adjust to what it needs to be doing. The late afternoon start throws a wrench at you because your eating and sleep schedules change. Then, you add 600 miles of racing on top of that. It's a perfect storm of stuff going on that makes this race a challenge. Don't get me wrong - there are no excuses. You have to physically ready no matter what."
Would it be safe to say that the two Coca-Cola 600 trophies you won sit more prominently in your house than some of the others? "To me, the Coke 600 is a big race because of the history of the race. It is the same way I feel about Darlington. The 600-mile race is just really cool to win. All the Charlotte trophies are really cool. We have quite a few Nationwide Series Charlotte trophies as well and they are all pretty far out front."