Burton Rallies to 16th in Camping World 200 Overcomes penalty to charge from rear to top-twenty finish Loudon, NH (June 30, 2007) ... The official NASCAR Busch Series race report will show that Ward Burton in the Huggies / Shaw's Ford Fusion ...
Burton Rallies to 16th in Camping World 200
Overcomes penalty to charge from rear to top-twenty finish
Loudon, NH (June 30, 2007) ... The official NASCAR Busch Series race report will show that Ward Burton in the Huggies / Shaw's Ford Fusion finished 16th in the Camping World 200 at the New Hampshire International Speedway Saturday afternoon. But the number tells only a small part of the story for this race for Burton, Crew Chief Stewart Cooper, and the Huggies / Shaw's Racing Team.
After two practice sessions on Friday, the Busch Series qualified Saturday morning to set the starting grid for the 200-lap race. The schedule set by NASCAR for Saturday included practice for the Cup Series, Busch qualifying, and a NASCAR Modified Series race. Cup practice was set from 9-9:45 a.m. and the Busch Series Driver and Crew Chief meeting set to begin at 9:40 a.m. ET. Here's where the problem began. Burton completed his Cup practice session and hurried to the drivers meeting, only to find out that the meeting had concluded before his arrival.
Therefore, the NASCAR penalty for missing the drivers meeting is starting in the rear of the 43-car field for the start of the event. Despite repeated efforts to NASCAR explaining the scheduling issue with Cup practice and meeting time, NASCAR held firm and Burton and Dave Blaney, the other driver who missed the meeting, must start in the rear. The Cup drivers who made the scheduled meeting cut short their Cup practice by at least 10-15 minutes in order to make the meeting.
Burton was the 42nd driver to make his qualifying attempt Saturday morning and turned a fast lap of 30.009 seconds / 126.922 mph to earn the 23rd starting position on the grid. Of course, qualifying was only a formality today, but did aide in pit selection.
Prior to the race, Burton, Crew Chief Stewart Cooper, and Spotter Shawn Parker discuss various strategy that may help in working their way through the field. With a little luck, some hard driving, and great pit stops, everyone had high hopes that the day could be salvaged and the penalty overcome.
With Parker working hard from the spotter's stand and Burton "up on the wheel" of his Huggies / Shaw's Ford Fusion, the Virginia driver moved up to 29th position by lap 10. Five laps later, Burton reported that his Ford was "pretty good", and Cooper told him his "laps times are as good as the top seven cars". On lap 35, Burton had a "bird's eye view" of an accident directly in front of him. Evasive action kept the #27 Huggies / Shaw's Ford Fusion out of the wreck.
Burton made his first pit stop of the day on lap 37 for fuel, tires, air pressure and track bar adjustments. He was running 25th when he made his stop. On lap 43, an accident in front of Burton almost collected the #27 Ford, but, for the second time in this event, Burton was able to escape. Burton told Cooper that his car began to "push bad under throttle" even though his lap times were really competitive.
Burton came to pit road on lap 89 under caution for routine service -- tires, fuel, and air pressure adjustments. However, before the race went back to green, Copper called Burton to the pits to "top off" the fuel on lap 95. Plans were to attempt to run the final 105 laps on fuel and hopefully move to the top of the list as other had to pit for fuel in the late stages. All that strategy went for naught when caution waved on lap 165. All the leaders came to pit road for fuel, tires, and adjustments, taking the possible advantage away from the #27 Huggies / Shaw's Team. Burton would restart 17th on lap 171 and gain one position in final laps of the race.
Normally, finishing 16th would not create a huge amount of emotion for any race team. However, after having to start in the rear of the 43-car field and drive his heart out all afternoon, Burton, Cooper, and the Huggies / Shaw's Racing Team found plenty of reason to smile after this event.
"The job Ward did today was awesome," Cooper stated. "From where we were with the car on Friday, to our race package today is a huge difference. Ward really got up on that wheel today and drove to the front. To come from that far back to 16th and avoid all the wrecks along the way was a big lift for our team."
"I still think NASCAR was wrong to penalize this team for the drivers meeting deal," Burton commented. "It's unfair to ask a team to stop practice early to go to the drivers meeting, and it's unfair to penalize my Busch team for their scheduling. However, the whole team rallied and we made something positive happen today. Great job from Shawn (Parker) spotting, and Stewart and the crew did a great job in the pits. This track is tough to pass on, so to come from the rear to 16th is a major accomplishment for the entire team."
Next week, the NASCAR Busch Series travels to the Daytona International Speedway for the Winn Dixie 250. Qualifying will be held on Friday, July 6th at 1:05 p.m. ET, with the 100-lap, 250-mile race set for a 8 p.m. ET start. ESPN2 will provide television coverage, with MRN handling the radio broadcast.