CONCORD, N.C. (February 5, 2001) -- Jeff Burton has been asked many times in the off-season if he'll be the next Winston Cup Series Champion. Maybe the question keeps popping up because Burton has proved he's one of the best in the business. The...
CONCORD, N.C. (February 5, 2001) -- Jeff Burton has been asked many times in the off-season if he'll be the next Winston Cup Series Champion. Maybe the question keeps popping up because Burton has proved he's one of the best in the business. The 33-year-old South Boston, Virginia native has posted 15 wins since joining the Winston Cup ranks full time in 1994. Last season alone, Burton posted 4 wins, 1 pole position, 15 top-5s, 22 top-10s and led every lap at New Hampshire International Speedway.
In addition to Burton's excelled on-track performance over the past two seasons, he's coupled with one of the most highly regarded racing organizations in all of motorsports, Roush Racing. The Roush Racing stable currently competes in NASCAR's top-3 divisions and most recently won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship in 2000. The resources, equipment and personnel are in place for Burton to make his run at the famed Winston Cup.
For Burton, the task may be complex but his solution is simple. "We have to perform more consistently than we did the past two years," said Burton. "We don't have to do it a whole lot better but we do have to improve in a couple of areas. We have to eliminate the poor finishes. We've won 10 races over the last two seasons. The wins, top-5s and top-10s are there.
"The point system really doesn't reward a team for a great finish but it will punish you for a bad finish. If I go out and finish second in the Daytona 500 we're only going to lose five points to the first place car and the third place car will only lose five points to us. It's much more difficult and nearly impossible to win the championship if you have four or five really poor finishes."
Burton's CITGO SUPERGARD No. 99 Ford will be highly visible in the front of the field on race weekends from February through November. Ten months of racing could intimidate some but for Burton it's an extended opportunity to race and another chance to win.
"If we have new markets that want to watch us race then I'm all for it," stated Burton. "I have the best job in the world and when I get another chance to race, I'm gonna do it."
And race is exactly what Burton will do in 2001. It's estimated Burton will compete in over 50 races between the Winston Cup, Busch and IROC schedules.
According to Burton, "When I have an opportunity to race I want to take advantage of it because the more time I have behind the wheel, the better off I'll be. Experience is everything in this sport. Every time I'm in a racecar I gain experience in new situations. That makes me a better racecar driver."
Will Burton have what it takes to bring Roush Racing and CITGO Petroleum their first Winston Cup Series Championship in 2001? The answer lies some 36-races away but one thing is for sure, Burton doesn't plan on settling for anything less.