This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Kansas Speedway ... Jeff Burton will pilot chassis No. 323 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This is a brand new No. 31 racer that will be put through its first paces in this ...
This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Kansas Speedway ... Jeff Burton will pilot chassis No. 323 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This is a brand new No. 31 racer that will be put through its first paces in this weekend's Price Chopper 400.
The Chase Report ... In the Chase for the Sprint Cup's first two events, Burton and the Cat Racing team posted a 15th-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway when the No. 31 Chevrolet coasted around the 1.058-mile facility during the final two laps after running out of fuel. They followed that performance with a runner-up effort at Dover International Speedway, registering an average finish of 7.5 in the first two Chase events. Those two finishes place the Todd Berrier-led team seventh in the point standings with eight races to go before the 2010 champion is crowned.
Welcome Home ... Two members from the Cat Racing team hail from the Sunflower state. Chris Tidwell, mechanic on the Caterpillar Chevrolet, calls Emporia home while Aaron Schields, rear-tire carrier on the No. 31 entry, is from Goodland. Schields attended Kansas University and was a member of the KU club team where he wrestled 165lbs.
You have two top-10 finishes on your Kansas resume. Is it a tough track for you? "Yeah, and I don't know why. I like the race track. It's a fun place to go and I look forward to going there. I feel like this weekend will be our best chance to run well there. To be honest, I don't even know what my stats are there. I don't view Kansas as a place where we don't run well. I view it as a place where we don't have finishes. My focus when we go there is to be as prepared as we can be. Although it's not new, it's one of our newer tracks. Sometimes people adapt to things quicker than others. It may be a track that I just haven't gotten the handle of, but I feel like this will be our best chance to run well there."
Does your seventh-place run at Chicagoland Speedway set you and your team up well for Kansas since the tracks are somewhat mirrored? "I was shocked we ran seventh in Chicago, actually. I thought we were going to lap the field. In practice, we were incredibly fast, but during the run, it just went away. We were never as good in Chicago as I thought we were going to be. It's a challenge. It's one of the difficult things about racing. It's a huge challenge to make everything work. We were very, very fast, and I was really, really comfortable with the car at Chicago, so hopefully that will help us in Kansas."
Where do you feel the RCR mile-and-a-half program is right now? It seems like the teams are strong and have a little bit of an advantage. Do you think other teams have caught up? "I think it's interesting. The mile-and-a-half stretch kind of goes into the summer and, if you start looking at my stats in particular, I'm not as good in the summer for some reason. It's kind of contradictory of what people think about me. I believe this is an evolution. Teams are building better cars, driving them better and are learning more. Other teams are learning less. The teams that are applying what they are learning are the ones that are going to run the best. I believe that can be us."
Kansas is the third race in the Chase. Is this a race where you re-evaluate some things? "You can be out of the Chase in three races. You can either be out of it or you can position yourself to win it. Where we'll be, who knows. The reality is we're going to go to Kansas and race the best we know how, no matter what the situation we're in. We hope we're in the position to win a championship. Ten races is a long time. If you're not learning and applying from the first race to the fifth race to the tenth race, you're doing something wrong. Every race is an opportunity for us to learn as a team and as a driver. Hopefully, we're there learning something that we can apply to winning a championship. I think you take each race for what it is. You go and race that race and not make it any more important than any other race. There are 10 races and they all pay the same amount of points. You can have a bad race in the beginning, or a bad race at the end, and they still have the same amount of points. You can't get caught up in the chess game of where I am now. It's an accumulation of all those points. That's not to say if you're 12th, 300 points back, you can say that you're going to win a championship. It's not going to happen. You have to be in position."
Is there extra pressure when you haven't won a race yet? Are you trying to accomplish two things at once? "We're racing for a championship. Winning races gets you more points and we need to get the most points. I'm not thinking about winning races for any other reason than that. In the back of my mind, I'm not saying 'oh no, we haven't won a race this season.' I don't think like that. Matter of fact, if you were to ask me how many races it's been since my list win, I honestly couldn't tell you. I don't like not winning, but worrying about it doesn't fix it. It's on to the next race and you always try to do better."