This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Daytona International Speedway ... Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 312 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable, a brand new Chevrolet Impala that will be put through its first paces...
This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Daytona International Speedway ... Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 312 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable, a brand new Chevrolet Impala that will be put through its first paces in this weekend's Coke Zero 400.
Daytona Details ... Burton is the 2006 Daytona 500 pole sitter and a former winner at the famed Daytona International Speedway when he claimed victory under the lights in the 2000 Sprint Cup Series event. In 32 starts at the 'World Center of Racing,' Burton has posted one win, six top-five and eight top-10 finishes and has led 102 laps of competition.
565 for JB ...This weekend's Coke Zero 400 will mark Burton's 565th career start in NASCAR's premier division, placing him 24th on the all-time starts list. The South Boston, Va., native is also tied with Bobby Labonte, Benny Parsons and Jack Smith for 29th on the all-time wins list with 21 victories, including his first at Texas Motor Speedway's inaugural event in 1997, back-to-back wins at Darlington Raceway in 1999, two Coca-Cola 600 wins at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 1999 and 2001, and under the lights at Daytona International Speedway in 2000. In 17 years of Sprint Cup Series competition, Burton has compiled six poles, 125 top-five and 229 top-10 finishes.
Happy Birthday, Jeff ... Caterpillar driver Jeff Burton celebrated his 43rd birthday on Tuesday, June 29. He is the sixth-oldest driver listed on this weekend's entry list behind Dave Blaney, Todd Bodine, Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin and Joe Nemechek.
Race to the Chase Update ...Burton enters this weekend's 160-lap contest eighth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship point standings. With nine races remaining in the Race to the Chase - the 10-race stretch preceding the "Chase for the Sprint Cup," which begins when NASCAR's premier division returns to New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September, the veteran driver sits 142 markers forward of the cutoff spot to become a member of the 2010 12-man Chase class.
You ran really well in the Daytona 500 and at Talladega earlier this year. What are your expectations as you return to Daytona?
"I've been sitting in the Daytona 500 races in the past three years thinking I had a chance to win the race. Something ended up happening in each race and it was one thing after another. For some reason, our car didn't handle very well in the 400-mile race. The same can be said for Talladega. Our Caterpillar Chevrolet was fast and I could put it wherever I wanted to and it would go. It was unfortunate that I got hit from behind because that ultimately ended our day. But, based on our performances at the two restrictor plate races this year, I think we'll be really good. I have high expectations this weekend. Daytona is all about handling and if we can get the car to handle well, we'll be in good shape."
Do you setup your car differently in the Coke Zero 400 than you do for the Daytona 500?
"The handling is completely different in this race than it is in the (Daytona) 500. It's so much slicker. It's hard to get your car to handle well at Daytona but there is a fair amount of difference in the July race. It's hard to get your car to turn in the corners and rear wheels to hook up. It's a huge challenge."
You captured your first win at Daytona in 2000. How special was that?
"Daytona is so entrenched in NASCAR's history. There's no question the (Daytona) 500 is the bigger of the two races, but I won't give my 400 trophy back."
Where are you in terms of getting ready for the Chase? Are you experimenting with things or are you focused on solidifying your place in the Chase?
"I think we are in all those places to be quite honest. I think that all the teams that feel like they have a shot to make the Chase have to be looking at what they have to do to be better when the Chase starts. The main focus for the majority of us is to make the Chase. Whenever you are trying something, you are trying to improve. With the testing ban, you have to be trying stuff at the race track on race weekends. For us, we are just looking for results and I think everybody is. I think that a lot of people, especially after they run bad, talk about trying something in order to get better. I think that is a normal evolution. Part of what you are seeing with the testing ban is that you have to test at the race track on Saturdays. Hopefully, you figure it out. But, where we are is that we feel good about our ability to run fast enough to make the Chase. We also know there are a lot of cars behind us that are in the same place. So, we have to protect our spot. I think the best way to protect our spot is to climb the points and that is what our focus is."