This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Michigan International Speedway ... Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 317 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new this season, this is the same Caterpillar Chevrolet Burton...
This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Michigan International Speedway ... Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 317 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. Built new this season, this is the same Caterpillar Chevrolet Burton drove to an eighth-place finish at Pocono Raceway on August 1.
Four to Go ... The 21-time Sprint Cup Series winner currently sits third in the championship point standings with four races remaining in NASCAR's "Race to the Chase." The 12 Chase contenders are determined once the checkered flag waves at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, September 11. Despite sitting 315 markers behind current point leader Kevin Harvick, Burton is 264 points forward of the Chase cutoff spot. Additionally, he is 130 markers in arrears to Jeff Gordon in second.
Welcome Home ... One member of the Cat Racing crew hails from Michigan. Gary Frost, mechanic on the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy, calls Romeo his hometown, which is located approximately 110 miles northeast of the speedway.
Statistically speaking, Michigan has not been kind to the Cat Racing team over the past few races there. Why is that?
"Michigan has been our worst race track. It has been a track where we have struggled and have not been good at all. It has pushed us, tricked us and made us mad. But, it's a place where we have to find a way to improve. We had some circumstances and have been in some situations that made the finishes look worse than they really were. I like going to Michigan because it's a fun race track. It gets pretty slick and there's a lot of options and those are the places I tend to run well on. We took a step forward in the spring and we ran well. That was a step forward from what I've been doing there and I hope to be able to improve on that. Michigan has really been one of our weak points."
What is it about Michigan that makes the track so good to race? "I think the thing that really sticks out is the width of the groove. There are a lot of options at Michigan. You can run all the way down on the white line or run almost up by the wall. You don't have to follow somebody around. It's certainly not a one-groove track. That makes it so the driver has options. It also makes it a challenge for the team because the car has to work in multiple grooves. Running the groove that you feel good about in practice is important, but you also need to run the groove that you may have to run in the race. Getting the car to work well in multiple grooves is important."
There were only four cautions in the June race at Michigan. Do you think it will be like that again? "I hope so. For me, those things seem to work out pretty well. I like races that have fewer cautions because there's more racing than there are restarts. Restarts are racy, but once things spread out, we seem to do really well."
Michigan races sometimes come down to fuel mileage. With the long back stretch and front stretch at Michigan, how do you save fuel? "Well, the only way to save fuel is to save fuel. You can't go fast and save fuel. There's varying degrees of saving fuel. Let's say that you have to save fuel for four laps over 38 laps. To help that, you have to get out of the throttle a lot. If you have to save for a half of lap, then you have to get out of the throttle a little bit earlier and getting back in the throttle a little bit later but, if you have a lot to save, you just have to go partial throttle. You have to do a lot to keep fuel from going to the carburetor."