Martinsville Speedway - Jeff Burton spotlight

Burton Understands SUBWAY 500 Pivotal In Championship Chase MARTINSVILLE, VA. (October 14, 2006) -- Almost every driver in the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup picked Martinsville Speedway as one of the two stops in the Chase that could have an ...

Burton Understands SUBWAY 500 Pivotal In Championship Chase

MARTINSVILLE, VA. (October 14, 2006) -- Almost every driver in the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup picked Martinsville Speedway as one of the two stops in the Chase that could have an unpredictable, but profound effect on the road to the championship.

Talladega Superspeedway boasts of "the big one," but the Chasers know Martinsville Speedway and Sunday's SUBWAY 500 will produce a lot of "little ones." And they know the "little ones" can be as damaging to championship hopes at "the big one."

There were a track-record 19 caution periods in the 2005 SUBWAY 500, and although 36 cars were still running at the end, most were rumpled and crumpled after a long day on the shortest, tightest track on the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup circuit.

Jeff Burton, who was leading the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup headed into last night's race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, understands exactly what he and the other nine chasers face coming into the SUBWAY 500.

"I think physically it's a very demanding race track. It's really hot in the car. Tempers get hot as well," said Burton, who grew up about an hour east of Martinsville Speedway in South Boston. "And this year, the top five cars are separated by like 50 points, so you are going to have a great point race going into Martinsville with just five races left. So it's going to be a huge race in the championship hunt."

Despite the pressure, it is a weekend that Burton enjoys.

"I love Martinsville. To me Martinsville is like stepping back in time a little bit for our sport," said Burton, who has a NEXTEL Cup and a Busch Series win at Martinsville. "It's side-by-side racing, it's action every lap. It's one of my favorite race tracks. Of course, I'm from Virginia and I take a lot of pride in running well in Virginia.

"To me, Martinsville is one of the icons of our sport. It's one of the places that has so much history and so much heritage. It's just a really cool place to go race."

Burton had a solid run in the SUBWAY 500 last fall, winding up fifth after starting 21st. His run in the spring wasn't as great, though. He started 20th, but finished back in 33rd.

Another Virginian in the Chase, Denny Hamlin, had a tough spring race at Martinsville. He started 41st and finished 37th after a crash on lap 307. The young driver from Chesterfield is hoping for a reversal of fortunes this time around.

"Every time I go to Martinsville in a Cup car, I really look forward to it. It's a track where I really feel comfortable and feel like I know what I need to run well," said Hamlin, who gained tons of experience on the half-mile oval during his days in Late Model Stock cars.

"If we can just kind of put together the pieces and make up for the lost ground we had there in the spring, then we should have a great race. It's a race I look forward to making up some points in the chase."

Tickets remain for both the SUBWAY 500 on Sunday, October 22, and the Kroger 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race, on Saturday, October 21, and can be purchased by calling 1.877.RACE.TIX. SUBWAY 500 tickets may also be purchased online at www.racetickets.com. For race information, please visit www.martinsvillespeedway.com.

Ticket prices for the SUBWAY 500 range from $42 to $77. Tickets for the Kroger 200 are $35 in advance and $40 the day of the event. Kroger 200 tickets for children ages 6 to 12 are $5.

-credit: ms

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Denny Hamlin