Phoenix Jeff Borton Review

Exide car charges to the front -- again By Matthew Leach PHOENIX (Oct. 25, 1998) It's happened so many times this year that it's almost old hat. Jeff Burton starts way back in the field in a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race. All the ...

Exide car charges to the front -- again By Matthew Leach

PHOENIX (Oct. 25, 1998) It's happened so many times this year that it's almost old hat. Jeff Burton starts way back in the field in a NASCAR Winston Cup Series race. All the commentators say "keep an eye on that 99!" And Burton proves them right, roaring to the front by race's end.

In Sunday's Dura Lube/Kmart 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, Burton and the Exide Batteries team pulled off another of their trademark charges. Burton was only 42nd-fastest out of 46 drivers in Bud Pole Qualifying, relegating the No. 99 to a provisional starting position of 38th. But a strong race car, combined with solid performances from driver and crew, brought the car to a fourth-place finish in the rain-shortened event.

It's the third time this season Burton has come from a provisional start to finish in the top-10. It was the sixth time that he has started 25th or worse and finished in the top-five. If this team could get its Bud Pole Qualifying package straightened out, they'd likely have more than two wins on the season.

That's about all that's left for the Exide team, though, because another of their Achilles heels -- pit stops -- seems to be dramatically improved. Their first stop was remarkable, with Burton entering the pits in 24th position and emerging in 15th.

"The guys have done great," Exide crew chief Frank Stoddard said. "I can't say enough about the pit stops. We came in 24th, went out 15th. Jeff did his job on the racetrack, and these guys have started to do their job in the pits. I'm proud to be a part of that. I'm proud of the work they've put in at the shop week in and week out to do this. I'm along for the ride, and everybody else on the team is doing the deal."

That includes Burton, who did his job on the track every bit as much as his crew did its in the pits. Between lap 70 and lap 100, Burton climbed from 12th in the running order to fifth. Five laps later, he had charged past Bill Elliott and Mark Martin -- the latter running for his life in the championship chase -- into third place.

Burton was in second when the second round of pit stops began cycling. He kept eventual race winner Rusty Wallace in his sights, but could not make up any ground.

That, however, was as close as the Jack Roush-owned car would get. When caution came out at lap 181, all the leaders pitted. The No. 99 team found a poorly-matched set of tires, and fell back as far as sixth before making some of that ground back up.

"We just picked up a real bad push," Stoddard said. "We got a set of tires that we just didn't like at the time. Goodyear brought a great tire out here, as always, but we just happened to get the one bad set that was out there."

Burton held on to the car and kept it out of trouble, and when the fourth yellow came out for Jerry Nadeau's wreck, the Exide team came through again, putting Burton back out in fourth. However, the race never returned to green, due to heavy rains.

"We feel like we made the right adjustments there at the end," Stoddard said. "We feel certainly that on a 50-lap run that we had a real good shot at them. Rusty had a good car, but we would have liked to settle it on the racetrack."

Source: NASCAR Online

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton , Bill Elliott , Rusty Wallace , Jerry Nadeau , Jack Roush , Mark Martin