This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Richmond International Raceway ... Jeff Burton will pilot Chassis No. 280 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend's Crown Royal 400. Built new for 2009, this...
This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Richmond International Raceway ... Jeff Burton will pilot Chassis No. 280 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend's Crown Royal 400. Built new for 2009, this Caterpillar Chevrolet was put through its first paces at Chicagoland Speedway last July where the 17-year veteran was credited with a 37th-place finish after being collected in a late-race multi-car incident. Burton then piloted this No. 31 racer at Kansas Speedway where he finished 23rd before posting a runner-up finish at Phoenix International Raceway in November. Most recently, this RCR-prepared Chevrolet returned to PIR three weeks ago where the Todd Berrier-led team finished 25th after a penalty for pitting outside the pit box halted their forward progress.
Carry Me Back to Old 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.
Front Nine Scorecard ... In the season's first nine events, Burton has earned one top-five and two top-10 finishes. He has recorded a 16.3 starting average coupled with a 16th-place finishing average and has spent 72.2percent of the time running in the top 15 (2,157 of 2,986).
Taking Charge ... Burton has led laps in six of the season's first nine events, ranking him fifth amongst his competitors with most laps led and third with most mileage led.
You finished third in last season's spring race at Richmond. What will it take to finish two positions better?
"We ran well and it was a race where we saw light at the end of the tunnel because we weren't really running great prior to that race. I have really high expectations going into this weekend's race because of the way we have ran on short tracks despite not logging good finishes. We ran exceptionally well at Martinsville and Phoenix which leads to my optimism about running well. Historically, RCR has a top notch short-track program, except for last season, and our speed has been really good this year. So, when you add those things together, we have every reason to believe that we'll run well on Saturday night."
Is Richmond the most competitive short track NASCAR competes on?
"I wouldn't say it's the most competitive. I think it's the best mixture of banking, shape and size of a race track. For the size of cars we race and the power that it exemplifies, I think the three-quarter mile, 14-degree banking oval and grip level works really well. As a race fan, I like watching races at Richmond because there is always something going on. From a competitor standpoint, it's a fun race track to drive because you have options on where to run your car - you don't have to run one lane. There are different ways you can enter the corner and accelerate. Options make it difficult but it makes it challenging, too."
What makes Richmond a hard track to figure out and why have some drivers been able to figure it out and others have not?
"It takes a lot of different stuff to run well on a short track. I think things get magnified on a short track. Being off a little bit makes you off a lot more on those tracks. I don't think it's unlike Martinsville, Phoenix or New Hampshire. There seems to be some teams that do a better job of being ready and some drivers that do a better job of being ready for that type of racing because it is different than what we're doing at intermediate tracks. You drive the cars different and you set them up differently. So, there are a lot of factors that go into it. Having cars that drive well and having a driver that does well on those race tracks are very important. You can't deny that some drivers do a better job at that type of race track than others. Kevin (Harvick) is a good example. He always runs well at those race tracks and you can't deny that it has something to do with his driving."
What are the key factors to getting a good finish at Richmond?
"Richmond is one of the places where handling means everything. The key factors in running well is getting through the center of the corners and throttling up without losing rear grip. It sounds simple to do, but the one that wins did it the best."
Richmond is one of your favorite tracks. Why?
"I just think for the teams, for the fans and for everybody that it takes to make this sport work, it's the best all-around track. Richmond has good racing action. It's big enough where it's not wreck after wreck, but small enough where it's close side-by-side action since you have multiple grooves. To me, it's a really hard race track to beat, competition-wise."