Burton Looks For Luck

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With a combined four wins (two Cup and two Busch), seven top-five (three Cup and four Busch), and 10 top-10 (five Cup and five Busch) finishes along with one Busch pole, in just six races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Jeff Burton is arguably one of the masters at the track.

When the No. 99 Pennzoil team takes to the track next weekend Burton and the team are hoping to do more than add to their Las Vegas win column, they are hoping to change their luck in 2004.

In the first two races of the NEXTEL Cup season Burton has finished 42nd (Daytona) and 37th (Rockingham) but these results are not a good indication of how far the No. 99 team has come.

"Our finishes most certainly do not reflect our effort," said Burton. "Anytime you are evaluating a situation you need to look at the entire program. If we only look at results and not the method then we are not doing a good job. When you look at the overall No. 99 program we have seen tremendous improvement this season we just don't have the results to show for it."

Burton and the No. 99 team encountered a mechanical failure that took them out of the Daytona 500 early on but only after they proved to be a solid contender for the win. The team finished a strong fifth in the 125 qualifying race and was running in the top-five before their problem during the race. Bad luck again plagued the team in Rockingham when they had a top-10 car and had moved through the field with race winner Matt Kenseth from 28th to 12th in 30 laps. During the second pit stop Burton ran into the back of teammate Kurt Busch when the field checked up exiting pit road. This put a hole in the radiator of the No. 99 SKF Ford and cost the team 18 laps due to repairs. Burton did return to
the track and ran lap times faster than, and comparable to, the leaders but he would never regain the 18 laps.

"The No. 99 team has had an unfortunate string of bad luck." Burton continued, "I'm not making excuses but it's a fact. We have not had poor cars, we have not had bad pit stops, we have not had problems due to mistakes by the driver or the crew chief, we have just encountered unfortunate circumstances. The No. 99 team had great pit stops at Rockingham and we were still competitive with the leaders, we were just 18 laps down. In Daytona we were a top-five car no question. This was the most relaxed Speedweeks I've had in a long time. We ran well the entire 10 days and we were having fun but again mechanical things break and sometimes you don't have control over that."

When Burton and the No. 99 Roush Racing team return to action in Las Vegas they are hoping to meet "lady luck" and turn their season around. With their hard work and determination it's a sure bet it will happen.

"Paul (Andrews, crew chief) and the team have worked hard to get where we are today and that has not gone un-noticed. The dedication, perseverance and tenacity of this team is awesome. We have a great group of people in place in the shop and at the track and I know we are a championship contending team. We are here to win races and that's exactly what we are going to do and we're not going to be told any different. The things that have happened are done and over with. We need to learn from those things and move on and show everyone that we mean business. I have no doubt that we will be in victory lane this year and move into the top 10 in points, that's been our goal from the beginning and that's the direction we are heading."

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