Talladega II: Jeff Burton preview

* This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Talladega Superspeedway ... Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 217 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend's 500 miler. Built new this season, Burton drove...

* This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Talladega Superspeedway ... Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 217 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable in this weekend's 500 miler. Built new this season, Burton drove this Chevy Impala SS in the season-opening Daytona 500. Despite running a smart and conservative race, contact from another car and then the outer retaining wall left the No. 31 Caterpillar Impala SS 28th when rain forced NASCAR to declare the race official 48 laps from its scheduled 200-lap distance. This No. 31 racer then competed at Talladega Superspeedway in April where Burton fought back from going three laps down to the leader after electrical issues forced the CAT Racing team to change an alternator in the early goings of the 188-lap feature to finish 10th. Most recently, the South Boston, Va., native overcame a flat right-front tire in the latter stages of the 400-mile event at Daytona International Speedway in July to record a 16th-place finish.

* Talladega Tales ... In 31 Sprint Cup Series starts at Talladega, Burton owns three top-five and 12 top-10 finishes. He holds an 18.4 average finish, has led 72 laps of competition and ranks ninth with the most miles completed at the larger-than-life speedway. Over the past nine races at the Talladega, Ala., facility, Burton has made 3,403 passes under green-flag conditions, the most of all drivers. Of those same passes, the RCR driver made 2,229 of them while running in the top 15, making him the sport's third-best quality passer.

* Welcome Aboard, Todd ... Todd Berrier will take over crew chief duties on the No. 31 Caterpillar team beginning this weekend. Scott Miller, who has led the No. 31 team since 2005, will now move fulltime to the director of competition position he was named to in September. Berrier's RCR career began as a fabricator in 1994. Since then,the Kernersville, N.C., native has earned 19 victories as a crew chief in the Sprint Cup Series, Nationwide Series and Camping World Truck Series. He won the 2001 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship, the 2003 Brickyard 400 and the 2007 Daytona 500, all with driver Kevin Harvick.

* Summing Up the First 32 ... Over the season's first 32 races, the veteran driver has notched two top-five, six top-10 and 11 top-15 finishes. He sits 18th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship point standings, 74 markers behind Marcos Ambrose in 17th. Additionally, he holds a 24th-place average starting position to go along with a 19.7 average finishing position and has led 73 laps of competition. Burton has also completed 9,279 of 9,388 (98.8 percent) of laps contested thus far.

* RCR at Talladega ... Childress boasts nine victories at the storied Alabama oval - all of them coming with Dale Earnhardt. Additionally, in 116 starts, RCR boasts four poles, 29 top-five, 48 top-10 finishes and just over $8 million in earnings.

JEFF BURTON:

This will be your 32nd start at Talladega but you have yet to capture a win there. Why is that?

"Honestly, I think this will be one of our best chances ever to win a race at Talladega. Over the past year and a half, everyone back at the shop has worked extremely hard on taking things to the next level, including our engine department. We've seen a big difference in our horsepower when it comes to our superspeedway engines and I think we'll be able to put our best stuff forward this weekend. Back in April, our Caterpillar Chevy was extremely fast. We ended up going three laps down because he had to change an alternator but was lucky enough to get those laps back and then fought our way to finish 10th. In the past, I can honestly tell you that I don't think I've ever been to Talladega with a car fast enough to win a race. My strategy was to always try to get reasonable finishes out of it because I didn't think I was good enough to win. I think that will be different this time."

What is it like racing at Talladega Superspeedway?

"I'm always nervous to run at Talladega. You have to go into that race thinking that there is going to be a multi-car incident and how to miss it. To me, it's a stressful Sunday morning and once the race gets going, I calm down. But as the laps start winding down, the intensity level just goes through the roof. It's unbelievable how you can feel it there more than any other race track. At every other race track, if you're racing for the lead you might be racing with maybe two or three other guys. At Talladega, you're contending with 30 drivers. When the intensity level increases for 30 people versus three, it changes the way you race."

Where do you want to be on the last lap?

"Talladega has the potential of being a 20-car pack with 23 others in the garage or the potential to be a 35-car pack. The bigger the pack, the more danger you are in being in the front. If something happens with three to go and the first four cars break away, then being in the front is not as dangerous. Being in the front is dangerous when the guys in front can get momentum and come get you. I do believe with the old car you were more protected up front than you are in the new car. You seem to be more of a sitting duck with the new car."

-credit: rcr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Kevin Harvick , Marcos Ambrose
Teams Richard Childress Racing , AT Racing