Thursday, March 15, 2012

Food City 500: Jeff Burton Race Preview

Jeff Burton
No. 31 BB&T Chevrolet Impala
Event Preview Fact Sheet  

This Week’s BB&T Chevrolet at Bristol Motor Speedway … Jeff Burton will race chassis No. 359 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable this weekend. This No. 31 Chevrolet Impala was utilized three times last season including, Charlotte Motor Speedway in the Coca-Cola 600 (started-fifth, finished-21st), Pocono Raceway in August (started-eighth, finished-17th) and Dover International Speedway in October (started-13th, finished-11th).

No Stranger to Victory Lane … Burton claimed the 2008 Food City 500 trophy at Bristol Motor Speedway in a 1-2-3 RCR finish. He also visited Victory Lane in NASCAR Nationwide Series competition at BMS in April 1997.

Welcome Back BB&T … The No. 31 BB&T Chevrolet paint scheme will debut this weekend when competitors hit the track for Sprint Cup Series practice on Friday. The full-service financial institution will serve as primary sponsor for six races on the No. 31 Chevrolet including a special co-branded scheme with Caterpillar in the 2012 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race, retaining its status as official bank of the 43-year-old Welcome, N.C.-based organization. BB&T’s primary race sponsorship occurs within the corporation’s branch footprint, which covers 12 states and Washington D.C.

BMS Race Night … Burton and RCR teammate, Paul Menard, will take part in the Bristol Motor Speedway Race Night fan Q&A session on Friday, March 16 at 5:45 p.m. in the BMS hospitality village located outside turn four. For more information on the free event, log on to

Building a Legacy … Over his 20-year Sprint Cup Series career, the veteran RCR driver has amassed 21 wins, 131 top-five and 243 top-10 finishes in 622 starts. Burton has also tallied six pole awards and led 6,506 laps.

Rewind to Last Week … After spending a majority of the 267-lap event outside of the top 20, Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team bounced back for a 14th-place finish in the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Points Racing ... With his 14th-place finish in “Sin City,” Burton currently sits 15th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings, 15 points out of the top 10.

Since you won at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2008, this track hasn’t been very nice to you.
“Well, that’s Bristol. It will definitely do that to you. Bristol Motor Speedway is one of my favorite race tracks. We typically run well there with the exception of the August event last season. Every other time we’ve come here, we’ve run well, but just not got the finishes where we deserved. It’s a track that I really like and RCR typically performs well. It’s a hard race. Early in the season, everyone is trying to find their rhythm. Some teams are playing catch up, some are trying to protect their points cushion and some are being really aggressive. You always want to go there and feel you can be aggressive and go attack the race track. Even though it is a track that will bite you, the only way to go fast and win is to attack it. You can’t be passive, you have to be aggressive.” 

With the new track layout, there haven’t been as many caution-flag periods. Is it more physical on drivers now that there aren’t as many laps under caution?
“We now have green-flag pit stops at Bristol Motor Speedway which is crazy. Bristol is the most physically-demanding race track we go to on the circuit. You get into a deal where you run 150 green-flag laps in a row and it is very difficult. It’s a strain, but you have to be aggressive and attack the track. There are a lot of G-forces. You are constantly turning. Accelerating out of the corners is very difficult when trying to keep your rear tires from coming out underneath the car. It’s a challenge to make one lap, let alone a long string of them together. We have seen less caution-flag periods and you can make a case that the racing is worse, but I say the racing is better and the wrecking is better. From a driver’s perspective, the wrecking is better. Some of the fans want to see more accidents and more stuff going on. We are actually seeing better racing just not as many wrecks. Some people define good racing as a bunch of wrecks and it just depends on how you look at it. This track now has an escape route. If you looked and watched the racing, the reason we had a bunch of wrecks in the past is because something happened and five or six cars had nowhere to go. Today, you don’t have to be bumper-to-bumper because the cars can be offset a little bit. It give you a little bit of room to move when that accordion thing starts happening. That’s why the racing isn’t any less aggressive. We just aren’t seeing those multi-car pileups.” 

What’s it like to have Bristol Motor Speedway pop up as the first short track on the 2012 schedule?
“It’s typical NASCAR. Make it hard. Martinsville Speedway is hard too. Early on in the season, we have the two hardest tracks we do all year, in my opinion. They’re physically hard on the car and mentally hard on the driver. Those two races come early in the season and they are very demanding on the drivers and teams.”