Burton says California could be his place By Dave Rodman FONTANA, Calif. (April 28, 1999) Ward Burton's driving style and car fit large, flat tracks just fine. Ward Burton has figuratively awoken many nights this NASCAR Winston Cup season ...
Burton says California could be his place By Dave Rodman
FONTANA, Calif. (April 28, 1999) Ward Burton's driving style and car fit large, flat tracks just fine. Ward Burton has figuratively awoken many nights this NASCAR Winston Cup season dripping with sweat, constricted by nightmares of an up-and-down season that's dogged his Caterpillar Pontiac team. But Burton says it's "just a matter of time until we win," and coming into this weekend's California 500 presented by NAPA at California Speedway -- a track that resembles two of the places his Bill Davis Racing operation has shined this year -- Burton's optimism is understandable. "We've had two good opportunities to win already this year," Burton said of the Las Vegas 400 and the PRIMESTAR 500 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. "We were second at Vegas with a pretty good car. At Texas we felt we had a tremendous shot at winning the race but we got caught in the pits at the wrong time, pitting under green when a caution came out.
"There isn't any way to predict those things. Sometimes they help you, sometimes they hurt you. This time, it devastated us. But we've been competitive every week with the exception of the Martinsville race.
"You have to keep in mind this is a relatively young team. We haven't been together for a very long time. One of the things we have going for us is we know what our strengths are and we know what our weaknesses are. Being able to identify those is, to me, one of the most important steps to getting to where you want to be.
"You have to know your strengths to be able to capitalize on them. You have to know your weaknesses to be able to fix them. If you're fooling yourself in either area, you just aren't going to be able to get any better."
In the only flat superspeedway event so far this year, Burton fought for the lead late in the race at the 1.5-mile Las Vegas Motor Speedway, ironically with his brother Jeff, before finishing second. Last year, Ward Burton, 37, won one Bud Pole (Michigan, a track similar to California) and qualified in the top-10 at all four flat-oval events (Las Vegas, two at Michigan, and California).
He finished 12th a year ago at California, and was eighth in the first Michigan race of 1998. Ward Burton is now 11th in the NASCAR Winston Cup standings, but is well within sight of the top-6 in just one race, and is in the thick of a very tight points battle. Just 85 points currently separate sixth-place Rusty Wallace from 15th-place Michael Waltrip, and Burton trails Wallace by a mere 46 points.
"We've been pretty pleased with what we've been able to accomplish so far this season," he said. "We think there are plenty of good things ahead for this Caterpillar bunch but, so far, we've been pretty happy with what we've seen.
"A lot of that is (crew chief) Tommy Baldwin and what he has brought to this team. Tommy is my friend. He believes in me and I believe in him. What he has brought to this Caterpillar team has made us all a lot happier."
But most important of all, the consistently strong qualifying efforts and race performances have the Davis Racing team believing it can win, and soon.
Source: NASCAR Online