Burton dominates again, comes up short again Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 21, 1998) Jeff Burton dominated the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division race at Darlington Raceway ...
Burton dominates again, comes up short again Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online
DARLINGTON, S.C. (March 21, 1998) Jeff Burton dominated the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division race at Darlington Raceway Saturday.
Only problem is, Burton wasn't in front when the checkered flag flew. The driver of the No. 9 Track Gear Ford, looking for his second consecutive NASCAR Busch Series win at Darlington, watched helplessly as Bobby Labonte passed him with 13 laps to go to win the 147-lap event at the 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval.
Burton led three times for 101 laps, including laps 89 through 133, but Labonte's No. 44 Shell Oil Pontiac proved stronger in the waning moments of the race.
"I'm proud of the Track Gear team, they did a great job," said Burton, one of the three NASCAR Winston Cup Series who swept the top-three spots in Saturday's race. "I made a call the other night to make a change on the car because we've been getting beat on short runs. The two races we felt like we had a chance to win earlier in the year, we got beat because the caution came out late and we were too tight to go run good enough on a short run.
"So, today, I said 'Let's see what happens. We'll get another short run. And, gosh darn it, we got a long run. That's just racing. You've gotta know how to make those guesses and the 44 car was awfully good on a long run. I knew we were in trouble when the caution didn't come out because he kept coming on me."
Lapped traffic became a problem for Burton once Labonte passed him.
"It certainly hurt me when he got by me, but it was going to be hard to keep him behind me anyway," Burton said. "The guy is a lap down trying to stay on the lead lap. You can't blame him for trying to stay on the lead lap, but, at the same time, when you see the leaders coming, you've got to get out of the way. It's a tough deal when you're a lap down. You don't want to give up because you need to stay on the that lead lap. I don't blame anybody for running hard."
There were seven caution flags during the race for a total of 39 laps, but none after lap 95. The final 52 laps were run under green flag conditions, and Labonte, who beat Burton to the stripe by .066 seconds, was able to make up ground on Burton and pass him late in the race.
Starting the race from the Bud Pole, Burton led the first 35 laps, but a series of caution flags saw him get shuffled back in the pack. He was never lower than sixth in the running order the entire day, however, and regained the lead for 12 laps on lap 70.
Burton has now finished second, first and second in the last three NASCAR Busch Series races at Darlington, in addition to his second-place finish in his last start at the track, in last fall's Southern 500 NASCAR Winston Cup Series race.
Source: NASCAR Online