By Shawn A. Akers FORT WORTH, Texas (April 2, 1998) A year ago, Jeff Burton was basking in the glory of his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series victory, in the inaugural Interstate Batteries 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. And...
By Shawn A. Akers FORT WORTH, Texas (April 2, 1998)
A year ago, Jeff Burton was basking in the glory of his first NASCAR Winston Cup Series victory, in the inaugural Interstate Batteries 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.
And although Texas will always have a special place in Burton's heart, there's still a bit of apprehension for the driver of the No. 99 Exide Batteries Ford about returning to the 1.5-mile superspeedway.
"There's a certain amount of anxiety about when you go to Texas, even if you did win the race," Burton said. "It's a very tough race track and it's just hard. It's very fast and very narrow. I'm excited about going back because we have had luck there. In the Busch car, we finished third and in the Winston Cup car we won, so we like that. But at the same time, there's certainly some anxiety about going back."
In last year's inaugural event, Burton grabbed the lead from Geoff Bodine on lap 277 and led the final 57 circuits to gain his initial series win, setting off an emotional celebration in Victory Lane. It was the first of three triumphs for Burton during in 1997, a year that became a defining one in the South Boston, Va., native's young career.
Burton went on to finish fourth in the series standings. At Texas, he'll once again looking for his first win of the year and come into this year's Texas 500 in eighth place in the standings, just 115 points behind leader Rusty Wallace.
"We snuck up on some people last year, but we ain't sneaking up on anybody this year," Burton said. "Last year, nobody really watched us during practice. We weren't one of the guys people looked at and now we are. We're not sneaking up on anyone anymore and I'm not saying we're as good as the 24 (Jeff Gordon), but I'm saying we generally run pretty well and now people are watching us and it makes it harder to beat everybody."
One disadvantage that Burton will carry into this weekend is not having tested at Texas. In fact, none of his Roush Racing teammates -- Mark Martin, Ted Musgrave, Chad Little or Johnny Benson -- have been their to test, either.
"The only place we've tested is Daytona," Burton said. "We're saving our tests. It seemed like last year in the middle of the year and the stretch run a lot of people didn't have any tests left. We're holding back some and we're going to test more in the middle and end of the year and try and gain an advantage during the stretch run." Source: NASCAR Online