Burton, Cat Racing Team End 2010 Season 12th in the Standings Jeff Burton and the Cat Racing team capped off their 2010 season with a disheartening 31st-place finish in the 400 miler at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday. The South Boston,...
Burton, Cat Racing Team End 2010 Season 12th in the Standings
Jeff Burton and the Cat Racing team capped off their 2010 season with a disheartening 31st-place finish in the 400 miler at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday.
The South Boston, Va., native's 2010 efforts cumulated into a 12th-place effort in the overall championship point standings on the strength of six top-five and 15 top-10 finishes in 36 races, affording him a trip to Las Vegas to share in the season-ending celebration with fellow RCR contingent drivers Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer who finished third and 10th in the standings, respectively.
After experiencing bad luck in the last three races (41st at Talladega, 36th at Texas and 19th at Phoenix), the Todd Berrier-led team was looking for a little pixie dust to help turn their fortunes around. A good omen, in the form of a fast No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, led them to a 14th-place starting position during Friday's qualifying session and to the second fastest and top driver, respectively, in Saturday's dual practice sessions.
Typical South Florida weather greeted the teams, drivers and fans for 267 laps of intense racing as the motto for a lot of teams, including the No. 31, was that there was nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Burton and his fast black and yellow machine quickly made their way into the top 10 just 17 circuits into the event, before settling into the sixth position 21 laps later. Overall pleased with the performance of the RCR entry, Berrier opted for only slight adjustments when he summoned the veteran driver to pit road, under green-flag conditions, on lap 71.
Trouble with getting the left-rear tire onto the Caterpillar Chevrolet led to a vast amount of time on pit road that resulted in a loss of a lap to the leader and a 35th-place position when Burton returned to the racing surface. Hindered in traffic, the handling on the No. 31 wasn't as good as it was when it was further advanced in the field, so Berrier was forced to make continuous adjustments to help aide the 2010 Chase contender's drive around the 1.5-mile oval.
The modifications assisted in the team receiving the Lucky Dog award when the 21-time Sprint Cup Series race winner was the first car one lap down for the lap-135 caution period and returned to action 25th on the lead lap with ambitions of returning to the front.
Burton marched into 19th at lap 146, 15th at lap 149 and 12th at lap 158 before settling into 14th just 14 laps later.
While running competitive times and focusing on hitting his marks, the pixie dust promptly wore off when Burton hit the wall coming off turn four on lap 182 that messed with the handling on his Chevrolet, forcing him to spin in the infield grass. When driving his car around the South Florida facility, he noticed the brakes were gone and was quickly instructed by Berrier to take the damaged machine to the garage area.
The team spent the next 14 laps being orchestrated by Berrier to an array of changes and repairs before returning to competition in the 37th position.
Burton raced the ensuing 70 circuits at a cautious, yet competitive pace, and was able to notch six positions in the process, closing the curtain on the season in 31st.
Carl Edwards captured the series finale and second consecutive victory, edging 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson to the start/finish line. RCR teammate Harvick, Aric Almirola and A.J. Allmendinger balanced out the top-five finishers.
Bowyer finished 12th.
"It's, obviously, very disappointing to end our season with a finish like this. We've had a disappointing Chase, but I'm very proud of what the Cat Racing team was able to accomplish in the off season and turn our season around after a rough year in 2009. What doesn't kill us makes us stronger and we'll be ready to start after it again in February."