Burton New Mr 500

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You can call Jeff Burton Mr. 500 after Sunday's Pepsi 500 at Auto Club Speedway, as the veteran driver will make his 500th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start.

Burton will become the 29th driver to reach the 500-start mark and is also 30th all-time with 20 victories, including his first at Texas Motor Speedway's inaugural event in 1997, back-to-back wins at Darlington Raceway in 1999, two Coca-Cola 600 wins at Lowe's Motor Speedway in 1999 and 2001, and under the lights at Daytona International Speedway in 2000.

Over 16 years of Cup Series competition, Burton has compiled 114 top-five and 205 top-10 finishes.

"It's pretty hard to believe I'm coming up on my 500th start," Burton said. "Professionally, there's nothing else I'd rather be doing. Competing in NASCAR's top level series has been a lifelong dream and I'm fortunate that I have been doing what I love for as long as I have but I still believe my best years are ahead of me.

"I've learned a lot over the years and this environment has made me a better person because of it. Racing is something I dreamed of as a kid and I'm fortunate that I am doing it."

In 16 Cup Series starts at Auto Club Speedway, Burton has earned five top-five and six top-10 finishes.

He comes into the weekend's race fifth in the Sprint Cup Series point standings and can clinch a spot in this season's Chase if he posts a finish of 15th or better.

Additionally Burton will contend for the 2008 championship if he finishes 16th or 17th and leads a lap or finishes 20th and leads the most laps.

"Well, we are obviously in a position of need," Burton said of his approach to Sunday's race strategy. "To do that, we need to have good finishes, we need to run well, we need to compete at a high level and we need to get the best finish that we can. We certainly don't want to put ourselves in a situation that we didn't have to be in because I did something silly or we had a mechanical problem.

"But at the same time, you have to compete at a high level. The competition is too tough. So, we are going to go out and try to win the race. If we can't win the race, then we are going to try to finish second. If we can't finish second, then we are going to try to finish third. That is what we try to do every week."

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2008

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