Burton, CAT Racing Team End Season with Second Consecutive Runner-Up Finish Jeff Burton and the CAT Racing team recorded a runner-up finish in Sundays season ending 400 miler at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The CAT Racing team closed the curtain...
Burton, CAT Racing Team End Season with Second Consecutive Runner-Up Finish
Jeff Burton and the CAT Racing team recorded a runner-up finish in Sundays season ending 400 miler at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The CAT Racing team closed the curtain on the 2009 season 17th in the overall championship point standings on the strength of five top-five, 10 top-10 and 16 top-15 finishes. At the same time, the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team capped off the 36-race season by posting four top-nine finishes in the final four races, including two consecutive second-place efforts in the last two events. Todd Berrier and Companys 4.5 average finish in those same starts gives the three-time Chase contending team momentum heading into the 2010 season.
Another brand new Caterpillar Impala SS was hauled from the 12-time championship organization in Welcome, N.C. to South Florida for the closing 267-lap event on NASCARs senior circuit. Despite finishing Fridays lone practice session 18th on the scoreboard and touring the progressive-banking oval 26th fastest later that day in time trials, chassis No. 290, with the help of the boys in black and yellow, was atop the leaderboard when Saturdays twin practice sessions concluded.
Confidence in the No. 31 Chevy carried over to race day when Burton immediately set sail from his starting position to eighth when the first of seven caution flags waved on lap 81. Pleased with the performance of his RCR-prepared machine, minor adjustments, that continued throughout each pit stop of the day, were made under caution before returning to action four laps later in 10th.
A rash of cautions broke out just before the races halfway mark, but the nuisance didnt hinder the South Boston, Va., natives forward progress. During the string of slowdowns, he raced between second and fourth before two more cautions at laps 156 and 194, coupled with long green-flag runs in between and after, allowed Burton to take charge of the 43-car field, beginning at lap 199.
The 16-year veteran driver led the next 19 circuits before the final yellow flag of the night was displayed with 50 laps remaining. After a quick trip down pit lane for the last routine service of the day, Burton returned to action fourth on the leaderboard at lap 221.
Over the closing 46 laps, lap times amongst the top four drivers were very competitive, including those of Burtons. Although he hit his marks and ran down a couple of the frontrunners, dj vu set in when, for the second week in a row, time dissipated quickly and he could not catch the leader before the final checkered flag of the season waved.
Denny Hamlin visited Victory Lane for the fourth time this season, beating Burton to the line by 2.632 seconds. RCR teammate Kevin Harvick finished third while Kurt Busch and 2009 champion Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five finishers.
Burtons other RCR teammates Clint Bowyer and Casey Mears finished 11th and 19th, respectively.
Im just real proud of everyone at Richard Childress Racing. Obviously, it has been a really good four weeks for the CAT Racing team. We're real proud of everyones effort. Everybody has been working really hard and putting a lot of effort out there and that is all I can ask for. Even early in the year when we weren't running well, everybody was still working hard. That is why you never heard me get down on that group of people and their efforts there. Todd (Berrier, crew chief) has done an incredible job putting the team together very quickly and we put ourselves in position tonight. We just got a little bit off on that last run and I think that is me not knowing what to tell Todd just yet. He gave me a Caterpillar Chevy fast enough to win the race. I needed to be screaming a little bit more about what I thought I needed. But, that will come. Everybody did their part and I came up a little short. Two second-places in our first four outings and a fifth and a ninth with Todd is pretty good. We're not where we need to be or we would be where Denny is, but we'll keep working. We have a good baseline."