Flat Tire Spoils Promising Run in Season Opener at Daytona Jeff Burton and the Cat Racing team's never-quit attitude helped them score a 12th-place finish in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway despite a flat left-rear tire...
Flat Tire Spoils Promising Run in Season Opener at Daytona
Jeff Burton and the Cat Racing team's never-quit attitude helped them score a 12th-place finish in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway despite a flat left-rear tire just past the halfway mark. The South Boston, Va., native became eligible for the 32nd annual season-opening event at the "World Center of Racing" by being a past Coke Zero 400 winner (July 2000) at Daytona. The new qualifying rule showcased a strong lineup of drivers who were last season's top performers and previous Daytona race winners. The 24-car field competed in two segments, 25 and 50 laps, with a 10-minute pit stop between segments to allow teams to visit pit road to change tires, add fuel and make adjustments.
Thursday's dual practice sessions for Saturday's under-the-lights race had the No. 31 team fired up to get the 2010 season going. Burton led the opening practice session and was seventh-fastest at the conclusion of final practice.
Cautious racing for the first part of the 187.5-mile showdown was the 2006 Daytona 500 pole winner's strategy. He spent the first 25 laps riding between the fourth and 16th positions, diagnosing what changes would need to be made to the Caterpillar Chevy during the 10-minute intermission.
Air pressure and chassis adjustments were made based on the data Burton gave crew chief Todd Berrier during the break.
The Caterpillar Chevy restarted ninth for the 50-lap shootout and Burton cautiously held his ground in the top 17 before reporting over the radio on lap 39 that a tire was going down. The veteran driver tried to nurse his black and yellow Chevy to pit road but spun in Turn 2 and, in the process, brought out the night's third caution flag.
The unfortunate event placed Burton a lap down on the leaderboard but, after a trip to pit road for fresh tires and slight quarter-panel repair, the Berrier-led crew held their heads high knowing that all they needed was a caution to return to the lead lap and be back in contention.
Burton spent the next 23 circuits riding around the 2.5-mile superspeedway mired in the 22nd position before a three-car incident slowed the field with five laps remaining.
Although a green-white-checkered finish wasn't exactly what the Cat Racing team needed to better themselves, Burton had five miles to make the most of a 20th-place restart.
As the field roared off Turn 2 and headed down the back stretch on the restart, an eight-car pile up occurred in front of Burton. Savvy driving allowed him to escape the melee and gain eight positions in the process to score a 12th-place finish.
Richard Childress Racing teammate Kevin Harvick captured his second consecutive Budweiser Shootout victory after leading 21 laps. The balance of the top-five finishers includes Kasey Kahne, Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.
Next up for Burton and the Cat Racing team is the Gatorade Duel 150-mile qualifying race.
"The Caterpillar Chevy was real fast tonight. It was unfortunate that we got a flat tire just past halfway. That really hurt our chances of having a good finish because we were a lap down for almost the remainder of the race. The good news is that we were able to learn some things in tonight's race that we can apply to our (Daytona) 500 car. But, it was fun and I always enjoy being a part of this event."