In last year's Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway, Jeff Burton became a first-timer. Burton, driver of the No. 99 Ford Taurus, claimed the first points' victory at Daytona International Speedway for himself and the Roush Racing ...
In last year's Pepsi 400 at Daytona International Speedway, Jeff Burton became a first-timer.
Burton, driver of the No. 99 Ford Taurus, claimed the first points' victory at Daytona International Speedway for himself and the Roush Racing organization.
"To get a win at Daytona was big," Burton said. "We had never won there before in a points race. To win a race at Daytona in a points-paying race was a good deal for Roush Racing. We needed that."
Not only did Burton pocket $152,450 for his victory in the 160-lap event, he also ended Dale Jarrett's dominance at Daytona International Speedway.
Jarrett won the 1999 Pepsi 400, the 2000 Daytona 500 and was hoping to make it a trifecta with the 2000 Pepsi 400, but it wasn't meant to happen when Burton made his car as wide as he could to hold off Jarrett and third-place finisher Rusty Wallace in a four-lap dash to the finish, which was setup by a late caution.
Burton, second to Jarrett in the 2000 Daytona 500 in February, moved into second place behind Johnny Benson by gambling on a two-tire pit stop with more than 50 laps to go.
He got by Benson on a restart on Lap 121 after another caution and led the rest of the way. The victory didn't come that easy. Jimmy Spencer spun out and brought out the caution that set up the four-lap finale.
"I had to block Dale," Burton said. "I had to really block him a lot. You end up driving in your mirror more than you do anywhere else at Daytona and Talladega. I picked the right lines. He moved, I moved. It just all worked out. It could've just as easily not worked out.
"That was a race where being in the lead was important where this year being in the lead probably isn't what you want to do. Being in the lead was a big deal and we were able to get in the lead because of some pit strategy and we were able to stay in the lead."
Said Jarrett: "Jeff did a great job. He blocked the race track like he should. I couldn't get anybody to give me the little push I needed to maybe get around him."
It was Burton's determination that paid off in last year's Pepsi 400, which had 10 lead changes among eight drivers and an average speed of 148.576 mph.
"In the past, I haven't been as aggressive as I needed to be," said Burton, who also finished second in last year's Daytona 500. "Coming into last year's races at Daytona and Talladega, I decided to be very aggressive and do what's best for the 99 car.
"That's kind of the attitude you've got to have in the superspeedway races if you want to win. Instead of worrying about which guy hangs you out and doesn't draft with you or worrying about hanging with a guy because he helped you early in the race . . . if you look at the guys that have been successful at this track and Talladega, they don't give two cents about who helped them. They only care about helping themselves.
"I did that a little more last year than I had in the past and it paid off. We were way more aggressive than we had been. Instead of waiting for something to happen, I tried to go out and make it happen."
Fans can still purchase tickets for the Pepsi 400 weekend online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.