Burton Overcomes Adversity to Finish Eighth in Aaron's 312 Cottonelle Aloe & E Team battles back from early spin to earn top ten Talladega, AL (April 28, 2007) . The recipe for success at Talladega Superspeedway for any NASCAR team is...
Burton Overcomes Adversity to Finish Eighth in Aaron's 312
Cottonelle Aloe & E Team battles back from early spin to earn top ten
Talladega, AL (April 28, 2007) . The recipe for success at Talladega Superspeedway for any NASCAR team is lots of hard work, a fast car, patience, and a little "luck". The #27 Cottonelle Aloe & E Team from Brewco Motorsports had all those ingredients in the Aaron's 312 on Saturday afternoon and earned a hard-fought 8th-place finish.
It was the first top-ten finish for Ward Burton in the #27 Ford Fusion and his first best finish in the NASCAR Busch Series since a 7th at the Homestead-Miami Speedway in November, 2001. Burton's best finish of the 2007 season prior to the Aaron's 312 was 15th at Las Vegas in March.
After posting the second fastest speed in final practice on Thursday afternoon, Burton qualified the Cottonelle Aloe & E Ford fifth on Friday with a fast lap of 52.204 seconds / 183.434 mph. Burton was the fastest Ford in the Aaron's 312 starting field.
"Some people have said that qualifying at Talladega doesn't mean a lot," Crew Chief Stewart Cooper commented. "However, to qualify up front takes a lot of speed, effort, and attention to detail. To be the fastest Ford in this field says a lot for this team and Brewco Motorsports. We qualified better than some very good teams. Our Roush-Yates engine was stout."
As strange as it might sound, race strategy on a superspeedway can often mean the difference in celebrating or loading a wrecked car at the end of the day. Starting from the fifth position, Burton figured that the best way to miss the "big wreck" was to be in front of it when it happened. Good theory, unless you are the wreck.
Burton had moved up to the second position on lap nine when the lead pack entered the tri-oval portion of the frontstretch. The #2 Clint Bowyer raced on the outside of Burton and swerved into the right front of the #27 Cottonelle Aloe & E Ford. The #6 of David Ragan made contact with Burton from the rear and sent the Virginia veteran spinning. Here's where the "luck" portion of the afternoon entered the picture. As Burton spun approaching turn one, he was able to keep the car on the lower side of the track and avoid contact from forty other cars as they raced side-by-side. Burton was able to drive his Ford back to the pits where the Cottonelle crew began to access the damage.
During the next five laps, Burton made three pit stops. The first stop was to repair the minor right front damage and change tires. Once back on the track, Burton reported that he had a vibration; therefore, the second stop was for four tires again. The third and final stop during this caution was to install a valve cap on the right front and adjustments to the front valance. Burton would restart 28th on lap 14.
With it still being early in the race, Burton decided to drop back in the field. run a competitive pace, and be in position for the latter stages of the event. Even though he fell as far back as 31st position at one point, the strategy played to perfection. On lap 100, Burton moved back into the top ten and was charging toward the front. All their hard work nearly came undone on lap 102 when the #20 car spun and Burton just barely missed making contact with the spinning car. Restarting sixth on lap 105, Burton knew that the intensity was "about to pick up". On lap 109, a multi-car crash brought out another caution flag.
Burton would restart fifth on lap 114, but would get passed on the first green flag lap by the #33 (Tony Stewart) and #77 (Bobby Labonte). Caution would wave for debris in turn one on lap 115 to set up a "green-white- checker" finish. Restarting seventh, Burton would battle his way in a tight, two-lap race to the finish. In a wild scramble on the last lap, Burton would bring the #27 Cottonelle Aloe & E Ford Fusion to the checkered flag in the 8th position.
"I really had a fast car today, and I want to thank Stewart (Crew Chief Cooper) and all the guys on this Cottonelle Ford Team for all their hard work preparing this car," Burton stated. "I'm not sure how the contact happened early in the race, I just know I got hit and sent spinning. Fortunately, no one panicked on this team, and we got back in the race. I probably played it a little too conservative at the end, but I didn't want to pull out of line and get shuffled to the back. That can happen here, and I wasn't sure if I'd have anyone to draft with me if I didn't stay in line. Shawn (Parker) did his usual great job of spotting today. It was a well- deserved finish for this team. It's a finish that we all needed."
"It really felt great to run strong this weekend," Cooper concluded. "Right off the trailer, we had a fast car, and all the guys on this team should be proud of their effort. From our adversity at the start of the race, to come back and get a strong top ten is a credit to Ward (Burton) and this team. Ward did a good job, was patient when he needed to be, and finished strong. I can't emphasize enough how much hard work went into this car, and those efforts paid off this weekend. This was a good, strong effort that will build momentum for us to carry to Richmond next week."
The NASCAR Busch Series now travels to the Richmond International Raceway for the Circuit City 250 Presented by FUNAI on Friday, May 4th. Qualifying is set for 4:05 PM ET on Friday, with the 250-lap, 187.5-mile race set for an 8:00 PM ET start.