Burton Comes Home Seventh in the Windy City Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team spent their entire Saturday night running inside the top 15 during the LifeLock.com 400 where they finished seven spots forward of their ...
Burton Comes Home Seventh in the Windy City
Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team spent their entire Saturday night running inside the top 15 during the LifeLock.com 400 where they finished seven spots forward of their qualifying position to post a seventh-place effort at Chicagoland Speedway, the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval that's located 129 miles northeast of sponsor Caterpillar's headquarters in Peoria, Ill.
The Todd Berrier-led team's second consecutive top-10 result moves them one spot, to seventh, in the championship point standings with seven races remaining before the Chase for the Sprint Cup field is set. Their position in the points rundown lists them 23 markers behind sixth-place occupant Kyle Busch and a comfortable 194 points separate them and the cut off spot of 12th.
Opening day at Chicagoland saw the Cat Racing team average eighth-place lap times during the first two-hour practice session and spent the final 45-minute session focusing solely on a qualifying setup. After digesting the data that was recorded during this time, the team put together their package and went out to run the 14th-fastest time in the time trials session later that evening.
In front of an estimated crowd of 67,500 Chicago race fans, including Caterpillar employees, Burton spent the first half of the 267-lap showdown trying to get a good handle on the No. 31 Chevrolet where he raced between the ninth and 13th positions. Long green-flag runs didn't provide him enough chances to visit his team on pit road to remedy the loose-handling condition he was tussling with.
As the sun began to settle over the Joliet, Ill. facility just short of the halfway point, the handling on the black and yellow machine started to somewhat come around, but the South Boston, Va., native still needed more adjustments to help further his advancement. Two caution periods at laps 137 and 179 provided opportunities to give the Caterpillar Chevy doses of medicine that helped him move into the top five.
But, towards the end of the last run, the loose-handling condition would return and, in the process, the veteran driver slid to seventh before Berrier would need to bring him to pit road for one last scheduled pit stop.
One last round of adjustments were made to the RCR entry, under green-flag conditions, on lap 232 that allowed Burton to run competitive lap times and maintain his position before the checkered flag waved.
David Reutimann captured his second career victory, beating Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon to the checkers. RCR teammate Clint Bowyer finished fourth while Jamie McMurray rounded out the top-five finishers.
Burton's fellow RCR teammate Kevin Harvick experienced a failed fuel pump assembly and, as a result, finished 34th in the rundown.
After a break from action next weekend, NASCAR's senior circuit returns to the Midwest for its annual stop at the hallowed ground of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"We got what we deserved tonight. We gave up some spots at the end with a bad stop, but you will have those things in racing every now and then. I just messed us up tonight. I thought the Caterpillar Chevy was good enough yesterday and I made the call on where we were with the car. We just weren't as good as we needed to be. We needed to work more yesterday and I didn't see that. We were pretty free and I thought the track would get tighter and it never really came to us. Todd (Berrier, crew chief) made the car a lot better, but I just got us in the wrong direction in practice yesterday. Thanks to all of our sponsors for sticking with us - Caterpillar, Prilosec OTC and everyone who supports us. They are awesome."