Texas: Jeff Burton preview

This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Texas Motor Speedway ... Jeff Burton will pilot chassis No. 302 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This is a brand new Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala SS that will be put through...

This Week's Caterpillar Chevrolet at Texas Motor Speedway ... Jeff Burton will pilot chassis No. 302 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This is a brand new Caterpillar Chevrolet Impala SS that will be put through its first paces in this weekend's Samsung Mobile 500.

The Texas Report ... In 18 starts at Texas Motor Speedway, Burton boasts two wins, three top-five and nine top-10 finishes. Over those same 18 races, he holds a 27.1 starting average to go along with a respectable 15.2 finishing average. The track's first repeat winner has finished no worse than 13th over the last six races held at the Fort Worth facility.

Loopy in the Lone Star State ... The RCR driver is the series' eighth-best Closer at the 1.5-mile oval. Over the last 10 races, he has improved 13 positions in the last 10 percent of laps in each race. At the same time, Burton ranks sixth amongst his competitors in green-flag passes. The South Boston, Va., native has made 593 passes at the Fort Worth arena under green-flag conditions.

Inaugural Winner ... Burton won the inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race held at Texas Motor Speedway on Apr. 6, 1997, capturing his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win. Additionally, the South Boston, Va., native became the track's first repeat winner when he took the checkers in April 2007.

Rear View Mirror ... A penalty for pitting outside the pit box just past the halfway mark in last Saturday night's Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway was the determining factor in their 25th-place finish. A NASCAR official deemed the right-front tire was out of the pit box during a stop and, therefore, held the team for one lap. Burton placed himself in the Lucky Dog position for much of the second half but long green-flag runs didn't help return him to the lead lap until the caution flag waved three laps from the scheduled distance.

Over the First Seven ... In the season's first seven events, Burton has earned one top-five and two top-10 finishes and has led 189 laps of competition. He has recorded a 19th-place starting average coupled with a 14.3 finishing average. The veteran driver is one of four drivers who have completed all total laps contested and has spent 70.3 percent of the time running in the top 15 (1,723 of 2,452).

Catch the Driver ... Burton will appear at the Chevy Stage on Sunday, April 18 at 9:40 a.m. before heading over to the Sprint Experience at 10 a.m. The 21-time Sprint Cup Series winner will participate in question-and-answer sessions with the fans at both locations.


Based on the test at Charlotte a few weeks ago, will Texas be the race where we will actually see the effects of the spoiler?

"In some ways, yes. Charlotte was a difficult track to test on. Since they've changed the track, the tires are really kind of odd-you go out the second time and you're faster, you go out the third time and you're faster yet. It's really hard to get a balance there to know where you stand. You put on new tires to make a run and you would have been better if you had just stayed on older tires. It's a difficult place to test, so that in itself, more so than the spoiler, means that Texas is kind of starting over. Still, I do think that we learned some minor things at Charlotte that you can apply to Texas."

Is passing difficult at tracks that are fast paced?

"The track slows down a lot in race trim, but it's still really fast. The speeds should be up and should stay there during the whole run. Anytime you have a lot of speed, track position becomes real important because it's harder to pass. The way you pass is you have to catch a guy who is not handling well. If you're handling better, you drive by them. The better the cars drive, the harder it is to pass. So, track position is going to be really important. Corner speed is everything at Texas. Turns 2 and 4 are tight coming off the corner so you have to be able to be in the throttle, accelerating off the corners to go fast."

Is practice at Texas critical?

"It makes it exceptionally important. The key to our sport is taking the time that you have to do anything that you are doing and do it efficiently. If you have an hour practice, you have to use that hour of practice better than your competition. The teams that can do that are the teams that continually have success. Being efficient with your time is really important. This style of car requires that because we're all still learning different things and without testing, it makes practice that much more important."

How much information from previous years are you able to use without testing?

"Everybody is using simulation to setup cars now. Everybody is using and trying to combine good experience with technology and the technology today has the ability to change the grip level of the tire. I'm not telling any secrets, every team has it. Teams are trying to figure out the amount of grip the tire has and what amount of grip the track is going to have. In all fairness, it's a guess. It's a scientific guess, but it's a guess."

Where is RCR right now as an organization? Do you think that RCR can challenge for a championship?

"I think we're ready to challenge for a championship, but I have to tell you that we haven't challenged for the championship. I've said this several times before, but you are what your record says you are. We haven't capitalized. I think we have the speed to contend for the championship, I think we have the team, and I think we have the fundamental basics to contend and win a championship. But, we have to start executing better than we have. We have lost spots at the end of a lot of races that was of our own doing. We have to stop doing that. We were in a great position to win the race at California and didn't pull it off. After California, everybody said Jimmie (Johnson) was lucky, and, yes, he had a lucky break. But, they executed and that's what we haven't done as well as we need to do. Hopefully, in the future we can execute on our opportunities. Our weak point has not been putting ourselves in the position to succeed. It has been making the final success happen in the last 10 percent of the race. That's what we need to improve on if we want to win a championship. The great thing about this system is that as long as you're in the top 12, we're able to learn how to do that. We're a young team, and we're still learning how to work together. I wish it was coming together quicker. A lot of things have come quicker than I thought it would, and some things have come slower. Executing is what we're focusing on right now to try and improve."

-source: rcr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Burton
Teams Richard Childress Racing