This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Martinsville Speedway ... Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 293 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new for the 2010 season, the South Boston, Va., native drove this ...
This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Martinsville Speedway ... Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 293 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new for the 2010 season, the South Boston, Va., native drove this Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala to an 11th-place finish in February at Las Vegas Motor Speedway before achieving a 10th-place result at Bristol Motor Speedway three weeks later.
Carry Me Back to Ole Virginia ... Four members of the Cat Racing team hail from the Old Dominion State. Caterpillar driver Jeff Burton was born and raised in South Boston. Mechanic and fuel runner Curt Bowman calls Meadows of Dan his hometown. Gear specialist Greg Meredith was born, and still resides, in Fancy Gap while tire specialist Tracey Ramsey hails from Fredericksburg.
Is there something special about racing in Martinsville?
"It's cool to race in your hometown. I grew up about an hour from Martinsville and ran late model races there when I was a kid. I can remember when they announced we were going to run late model races at Martinsville. I remember thinking that it was the coolest thing ever that we would have a chance to do that. That track has always meant a lot. I was able to win my first Nationwide Series race there. We've run well there. The spring race was really good for us. We had a shot to win that race but ended up cutting a right-front tire real late. We led a lot of laps and thought we had a great opportunity to win, but it got away from us. I'd like to go back and redeem that."
What's it like driving on a track that has short straightaways and tight corners?
"It just takes patience. It's a track that you have to be aggressive on. You want to carry as much speed going into the corners as you can but, at the same time, too much speed is a bad thing. It's a track where you have to attack it. If you don't attack it, you won't go fast enough. You have to be patient because overdriving the car is a bad thing. It's a real balance between overdriving the car and not driving it enough. It's really a one corner at a time race track. You can't think ahead. You have to be in the moment and pay attention to what you're doing right now. If you do that, you'll run your best races. It's so hard to plan ahead there because so many things could happen. It's a matter of being smart, aggressive, and consistent. All of those things mean a lot there."
Martinsville can be both physically and mentally demanding, but can it be fun?
"I like Martinsville a lot. It's very physically demanding. Some people don't think of it as being physically demanding because it's a short track but, honestly, it's a huge challenge to go there and run well for 500 laps. I really like it. I like the fact that it's hard. I like the fact that there's close contact. When that race is over, you're going to be spent, and I think that's the way it should be. That's what makes Martinsville fun."
Being from South Boston, how cool was it to win the Cup Series race in 1997 at your home track?
"I was really sick when we won that race. I was really struggling and could hardly stand up. That's one of the most gratifying wins I've ever had because I passed Rusty (Wallace) on the outside before there was an outside (lane) to take the lead. We made a pit stop and he beat us out of the pits. There were a few cautions after that and each time, he kept jumping the restart and NASCAR warned him about that. Well, he did it again and they black flagged him. So, there I am leading the race and here comes Bobby Hamilton. He was on the inside and I was on the outside and I wanted to beat him. It was a really rewarding race because I had to work hard for it. Nothing came easy on that day."