* This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala SS at Auto Club Speedway ... Jeff Burton will pilot chassis No. 291 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This is a brand new Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala that will be...
* This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala SS at Auto Club Speedway ... Jeff Burton will pilot chassis No. 291 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This is a brand new Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala that will be put through its first paces this weekend.
* The California Report ... In 19 Sprint Cup Series starts at Auto Club Speedway, Burton owns one pole, five top-five and six top-10 efforts, posting a career-best finish of second in May 1999. Additionally, the 21-time Sprint Cup Series winner has led 81 laps of competition and has completed 99.5 percent (4,731 of 4,755) of the total laps.
* Burton Loopy in Fontana ... According to NASCAR's loop data statistics, Burton is the sport's fourth-best Green Flag Passer. Over the past 10 races at the two-mile oval, the South Boston, Va., native has made 776 passes under green-flag conditions and is 62 passes shy of leader Robby Gordon's tally. Of those 776 passes, 454 were made while racing in the top 15.
* Racing to Read ... Burton is scheduled to participate in Auto Club Speedway's Racing to Read program the morning of the Auto Club 500. The veteran driver will read "Where the Wild Things Are" to kids in the Fanzone area, located on the outside of the race track. The storybook reading time will take place from 9 -- 9:15 a.m.
You finished 32nd in the spring race and 30th in the fall race last season at Fontana. Can you improve on those results?
"I would certainly like to forget those races. Fontana was not a good race track for us last year. The Cat Racing team participated in the tire test there in the off season and we were very competitive. The car drove great so I'm looking forward to turning the tide on our performances out there. In some ways I'd like to forget about last year's results but those bad days make you stronger and it's a challenge for us to do a lot better."
Why is it so important to run well at Auto Club Speedway?
"Leaving California knowing you can run well there is very important because it kind of shapes your year. It lays the groundwork for the mile-and-a-half and two-mile racetracks -- where you are in the scheme of things. It's real important to get off to a good start because if you don't then you start wondering 'how are we going to fix this.' It's difficult to turn the ship around when things are not going so well. It's important to go to California and compete at a high level because it builds confidence in the equipment that you have."
What are your thoughts on the tire test that the No. 31 team participated in and how will that affect the racing?
"California's race track is very hard to drive which is why there's been a lot of talk about the racing not being very good. The cars slid around a lot and had very low traction. It created a situation where you couldn't drive the cars as hard as you want to. This year, Goodyear has brought a completely different tire with different stagger and compound and I think the racing will be a lot better. The racing hasn't been what it needs to be out there but I think this race will be completely different."