WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T) NOTE: Burton, a 40-year-old driver from South Boston, Va., has had his share of rotten luck since opening the season with a victory in the Daytona 500. He's finished 31st, 25th and 43rd in the...
WARD BURTON (No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge Intrepid R/T)
NOTE: Burton, a 40-year-old driver from South Boston, Va., has had his share of rotten luck since opening the season with a victory in the Daytona 500. He's finished 31st, 25th and 43rd in the past three races and dropped from seventh to 15th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Standings. Burton is still only 75 points behind 10th-place Bill Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Dodge Dealers Intrepid R/T and 320 behind points leader Sterling Marlin, driver of the No. 40 Coors Light Dodge Intrepid R/T. Burton finished third last October at Martinsville.
"Martinsville has been up and down for us. Our short track program, particularly with (crew chief) Tommy Baldwin and I working together and the support group he's got at the shop has improved a lot. We know that's a place where we can run well. You need everything at Martinsville. It's like everywhere else we go. You've got to have it all sitting under you and at the same time have some patience and go with the flow a little bit. Last year it was probably one of the most consistent runs we've ever had at Martinsville. We ran in the top five and top 10 most of the day. The first race last year at Martinsville, we didn't have our motor combination where we could run at all. Hat's off to Terry Elledge and his guys because they made a huge amount of progress from the first race there to the second race. That was a lot of the reason why we ran so much better in the second race.
"You've got all kind of different ways to tune the motor. We all try to tune for certain driving styles, whether it's with carburetor or linkages or rear end gears.
"It's a good place for us to run well, that's for sure.
"We've slipped, but it's not because we haven't been running well. At Las Vegas our strategy just didn't work. We had a top three-car or maybe the top car at Darlington and we got caught in a wreck. At Bristol, it was mechanical. All three times the car was running in the top 10 or top five and we led leaps at two of those races. It wasn't anything to do with how we ran. It was just circumstances we couldn't control, just like last Monday at Texas.
"I've got a lot of confidence in my team. I know we can get the job done. We haven't had a good month. Some of that was in our control and we need to learn from it and some of it wasn't. We haven't got turned around or anything, and we're not expecting that. Our philosophy changed a little bit on that . What's good for the goose is good for the gander. We're going to make damn sure that we keep to that this year. I've got a "I don't give a damn attitude" a little bit. At the same time, I respect the competitors, but they've got to drive me like I drive them.
"I think some of the drivers that caused a lot of the wrecks last year have matured a little bit. I've got to finish the race first before I can win the race. That's my philosophy. I'll complain and moan and groan a little bit about the car until we get it to where it can lead the race and I'll try to be there the last 50 miles or 50 laps and hopefully have a shot at it or a competitive run. That's what I try to do every week. To go out there and get myself in trouble midway through the race is about as ludicrous as saying I'm tired of racing and I've got a headache so I'm going to bring it into the pits. I want to finish the races. We've got to finish the races. We don't learn anything as a team if the car is sitting on the truck. Sometimes it's all out of your control, but it's very aggravating. Like at Darlington, there was a little bit of impatience by two people to cause a wreck. That's racing. Buckshot knew he was going a lap down and he should have been using his head a little bit more driving, at the same time, somebody should have been telling Tony that a car in front of him was struggling. We got into that wreck, and we don't blame anybody for it. It's just the impatience and lack of respect by some of the competitors. I think that most of us don't need to tolerate it. NASCAR doesn't need to tolerate it, either.
"I've been real lucky at Bristol. I haven't gotten in a wreck there in quite a while. Martinsville is a place that you always have to look out in front of you and stay on your toes. At the same time, when they put in the pit walls all the around the race track, they took away some area to miss wrecks from. Even if you had to run over the curb, it's better than running over another car. You've got to be on your toes there because there's not a lot of room to miss a wreck. We've been lucky there to stay out of trouble, too."