Jeff Burton's beyond Daytona

CONCORD, N.C. (February 5, 2001) -- The Daytona 500 is without a doubt the most prestigious race in NASCAR. Drivers, crews and sponsors seek bragging rights as the winner of NASCAR's Super Bowl each year. The 2001 Great American Race will prove...

CONCORD, N.C. (February 5, 2001) -- The Daytona 500 is without a doubt the most prestigious race in NASCAR. Drivers, crews and sponsors seek bragging rights as the winner of NASCAR's Super Bowl each year. The 2001 Great American Race will prove no different, but for CITGO SUPERGARD driver Jeff Burton there's a much greater focus.

"Daytona is a really big race," stated Burton. "However, it's not the biggest deal of the season for us. We are racing for a championship so our perspective on the Daytona 500 is that it pays 185 points just like winning every other race on the schedule.

"The more races we can win the better off we'll be in our championship chase. We approach the Daytona 500 like it is just another race on the schedule. If we win the Daytona 500 and finish 10th in the championship standings, it will not be a successful season. For us to have a successful year, we have to perform better than we did last year. Winning one particular race is not how we are going to measure our success for the 2001 season."

NASCAR's rule change for The Daytona 500 includes an aerodynamic modification, which greatly narrows the competition. The result is a 43-car field bunched up until the unavoidable happens. The restrictor plate is famous for producing huge, multi-car pileups. The fans watch from the grandstands and their homes in sheer anticipation that when it happens they'll have a birds-eye view. For Burton, the view isn't as highly anticipated.

"If one guy makes a mistake in the draft it can result into a major 15-car wreck," stated Burton. "One wreck can take out half the field. It's hard to run wide open at Daytona so you have to concentrate more on making the car handle. Restrictor plate races are exciting to watch for the fans but they are a little terrifying for the drivers. These tracks are built for us to run two-wide but with restrictor plates the playing field is a little more even so we can run three and four-wide."

The last outing at Daytona International Speedway resulted in Burton parking his No. 99 Ford in Victory Lane. Burton celebrated under the fireworks in July of 2000 as the victor at one of the most prestigious tracks on the circuit. The result is his status as a favorite to win the season-opening Daytona 500. Although Burton's perception appears a bit philosophical, on raceday the most important thing will be obvious and that's winning "The Daytona 500" arguably the most coveted trophy in NASCAR!

-Doug Cox

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton