Burton and Team Become Victims of Circumstance at Talladega A competitive Cat Financial Chevrolet was tagged from behind by a competitor with 55 laps remaining in the annual 500 miler at Talladega Superspeedway that bounced Jeff Burton off...
Burton and Team Become Victims of Circumstance at Talladega
A competitive Cat Financial Chevrolet was tagged from behind by a competitor with 55 laps remaining in the annual 500 miler at Talladega Superspeedway that bounced Jeff Burton off another car before hitting the turn four wall which left him and the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team with a disappointing 41st-place finish.
The unfortunate circumstance dropped the Cat Racing team two spots, to 10th, in the Chase for the Sprint Cup with three races remaining in the 2010 season. Despite sitting just 15 points forward of RCR teammate Clint Bowyer's 12th-place tally, the Todd Berrier-led crew is only two markers behind Kurt Busch in ninth, 28 in arrears to Matt Kenseth in eighth and 35 points on the cuff of Tony Stewart in seventh.
In 33 Sprint Cup Series races at the larger-than-life oval, Burton had never visited Victory Lane and hoped to change that on Sunday on the strength of veteran experience and a fast No. 31 Cat Financial Chevrolet. After shaking down the RCR entry in dual practice sessions on Friday and tying his best qualifying effort of the season of fifth, he and the boys in black and yellow knew they had a sharp shooter for the 188-lap showdown.
Their strategy was plain and simple: stay up front and avoid the wrecks.
After leading four different times for a total of eight laps in the event's opening 40 laps, the RCR driver's line of attack seemed to be working. Following a green-flag pit stop on lap 41, the South Boston, Va., native was quickly back to work, drafting his way as high as fourth and as low as 19th over the next 20 circuits before deciding to hang in the back of the field due to a hole on the hood that formed as a result of bump drafting.
Relief came in the form of a caution at lap 69 that allowed Berrier to orchestrate the over-the-wall crew to perform a routine four-tire pit stop and an array of slight repairs to the hood of the Cat Financial Chevrolet.
Burton returned to business as usual on lap 73 and proceeded to make good on his approach, leapfrogging from 27th to the top five within 19 laps.
He maintained a top-10 position past the halfway mark, including taking point at lap 125 before settling into fifth over the next four circuits. But, it was on lap 133 that a bump draft from the No. 88 machine sent Burton into the right side of the No. 1 Chevrolet that ricocheted him into the outer retaining wall in turn four.
The spirited No. 31 racer was transported back to the garage where, upon observation by Berrier and Company, was deemed irreparable with the amount of time that was left in the race and the No. 31 team reluctantly called it a day.
Bowyer went on to capture his first-career Sprint Cup Series victory at Talladega, beating fellow RCR stablemate Kevin Harvick and Juan Pablo Montoya under caution.
Not only were the top-three finishers powered by Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines, Bowyer's victory capped off an unbelievable season for the engine company as it swept all four restrictor-plate races in NASCAR's senior circuit in 2010.
The stars of NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series will be big and bright next weekend as the premier division in American motorsports heads for the Lone Star State.
JEFF BURTON: "It's just racing. (Dale Earnhardt)Junior and I worked really well today and pushed each other a lot. We just didn't get lined up and I guess he got me in the right-rear quarter panel and got me turned around. It wasn't anything on purpose. We just didn't get lined up. It all started going into turn three and it got three wide, which kind of changed everybody's line a little bit and I think I moved a little different than he thought I was going to. When you push like that, and draft like that, it is going to happen. I did it all day long. There were a few times when I thought I was going to turn somebody around and didn't. It is just the nature of the beast. I'm not mad about it. He didn't do anything wrong. It's just plain and simple racing."