Burton delighted with first top-five since '95 By Shawn A. Akers CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 4, 1998) Ward Burton wanted more than anything to win Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. But ...
Burton delighted with first top-five since '95 By Shawn A. Akers
CONCORD, N.C. (Oct. 4, 1998) Ward Burton wanted more than anything to win Sunday's NASCAR Winston Cup Series UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. But considering it was his best finish, and perhaps best effort, since the season-ending NAPA 500 at Atlanta in 1995, Burton isn't too upset about finishing runner-up to Mark Martin, who earned his seventh victory of the season on Sunday. It has been now 88 races Burton's only NASCAR Winston Cup Series victory -- in the 1995 AC/Delco 400 at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham (N.C.) -- but more amazing, it had been 85 races since the driver of the No. 22 MBNA Pontiac had recorded his last top-five finish. "All I know is that the guys (his crew) did a heck of a job today," said Burton, who was disappointed to finish 1.11 seconds behind Martin, but relieved to turn in such a strong run. "All the guys worked really hard. My hat's off to them. "I'm really excited about this. Yeah, we haven't had what we've wanted to have the last couple of years, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm pumped." As well he should be. Burton finished 11th last week at Martinsville in the NAPA AutoCare 500, and prior to that, his best finish of the year had been eighth, twice, in the DieHard 500 at Talladega in April and in the Miller Lite 400 at Michigan in June. Recent changes within the Bill Davis Racing organization have helped spark a renewed sense of confidence with the No. 22 MBNA team. The hiring of Tom Baldwin Jr. as the crew chief and the release of Chris Hussey made for a major shakeup a few weeks ago. "A lot of stuff is changing," Burton said. "You probably can't see it. A lot of things are happening. Bill (Davis) has done a good job." "We made some steps we've been needing to make for a long time," Davis said. "I don't think anybody can really deny that, but we hadn't done it, we hadn't closed the deal. Today, we closed the deal. Potential turned into performance today. Instead of running half the race like that, we ran the whole race. We had great pit stops today. The motor was awesome. Nobody has more motor than we do." Burton started from the 13th position on Sunday, avoided the tremendous attrition, including an 11-car accident that occurred on lap 204, and hung around the top-five throughout most of the second half of the race. He even took his turn leading the 334-lap event, taking the point on lap 91 and holding it until lap 125 before surrendering the point to fellow Pontiac driver Ernie Irvan. "I was a little bit loose all day," Burton said. "I know I had him (Martin) beat on motor, there's no doubt about that. My guys have got some awesome motors. We were just off on chassis a little bit. He (Martin) was beating me down in three and four and I could gain back and was equal to him in one and two. He just had a little bit on me in three and four.
"All my MBNA team is just working real good together right now. We beat everybody but one car, and I wanted that one car awful bad, but that's a good start." Whether or not the MBNA team can keep it up for the rest of the season and beyond, only time will tell. But for now, the team is on top of the world heading to Talladega next weekend, and will be diligently seeking a victory.
"You just want to win so bad, and we need to win so bad," Davis said. "We were capable of winning (Sunday), but at the same time, Mark's (Martin) been the man all week. He was the fastest car Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. "But right now, I'm really proud because of what this team accomplished (Sunday). The chemistry is great and the guys are working hard. We're building momentum for next year."
Source: NASCAR Online