Daytona 500: Ward Burton preview

Burton and CAT team Optimistic For Solid Run, Season "I know that my team has learned a lot about restrictor plate racing in the past few years. We have better cars, better motors and we know each time we get to a plate race; we have a...

Burton and CAT team Optimistic For Solid Run, Season

"I know that my team has learned a lot about restrictor plate racing in the past few years. We have better cars, better motors and we know each time we get to a plate race; we have a legitimate chance of winning. I'm sure this year's Daytona 500 won't be any different for the Caterpillar Racing team."
- Ward Burton, No. 22 Caterpillar Pontiac

Ward Burton
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona 500

Ward Burton on the Daytona 500
"We are going back to Daytona with the same car that we ran here last year in the 500 and at Talladega. It's been through a few wrecks - here last year and then again on the last lap at Talladega in the fall. But, each time the guys back at the shop get it right back to being just as, if not more, competitive than it was before it was wrecked.

"If we can run the way we did here last year in the Daytona 500, we should have a legitimate chance at winning this thing. I don't think we could've had a better car here last year. Never in my career have I had a car capable of leading and pulling away from the pack the way that car did. If we can just have a car close to that, we will be in contention.

"We just need to avoid any wrecks. Nobody knows what the new aero rules are going to do in racing conditions. I think we may avoid running three wide, but the ingredients are there to have a major wreck when you have 43 equally prepared cars. The one thing we should see with the new rules is a more follow the leader rather than a slingshot like race. Last year, you were able to be a half-straightaway back from the lead pack and in a lap be freight training by them. We should've eliminated that type of racing, but we'll have to see what happens during the 125's on Thursday."

Ward Burton on the 2002 NASCAR Winston Cup Season
"I don't believe people have any idea how much time, effort, research and development went in to the launching of the new Dodge program last year. I'm not trying to make excuses for a mediocre season, it was just a very challenging year for us. The new Dodge, the new tire, and the new motor. I know once we got into the second half of the season, we were more consistent and more competitive. We adjusted the motor combination, we adjusted the set-ups to make the car handle better with the new tire and we figured out the new downforce we had with the new Dodge. All of those things combined threw the No. 22 team for a loop.

"We are heading into the 2002 season with a lot of momentum from the second half of last year. We are more prepared than we were and we know what to expect from the Dodge and from the Goodyear tire. NASCAR has thrown us one curve ball and that is the one engine rule. Thankfully, we don't have to deal with that at Daytona, but we'll have to at Rockingham in a couple of weeks. That has left Terry (Elledge, head engine builder at Bill Davis Racing) with another challenge. But, if there is one person that can live up to the challenge - it's Terry. I hope we don't have to compromise too much on horsepower to get the reliability. That's the only uncertainty we have heading into the 2002 season.

Ward Burton Public Appearances

** Burton will be signing autographs at the CAT souvenir trailer on Daytona International Speedway property on Friday, February 15 from 11:30 am until 12:30 pm.

** Burton will also appear on Fast Talk with Benny Parson's at the Volusia Mall on Friday, February 15 at 6:05 pm. If you can't make it to the Volusia Mall, the interview can be heard on PRN affiliates across the country.

-cat-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Ward Burton
Teams Bill Davis Racing