Burton Leads RCR to Phoenix

Jeff Burton

Burton sits fifth in the series standings heading into Sunday's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at PIR. (Photo: Getty Images)

Jeff Burton leads Richard Childress Racing to Phoenix International Raceway after finishing fifth in the season-opening Daytona 500.

With the help of his teammate Paul Menard, Burton was able to score his first top five in "The Great American Race" since 2007.

"We ran at the front most of the night and kept ourselves in good track position," said Burton, who posted an average running position of 6.2 in the Daytona 500. "We thought we had a really good shot at it. Paul (Menard) was hooked up to me and we were coming pretty hard on them going into (Turn) three. The group on the outside got a run on him and just sucked the air off each other."

Burton sits fifth in the series standings heading into Sunday's Subway Fresh Fit 500 at PIR, a track he's won at twice.

"It's been a really good track for me," Burton said. "Knock on wood. Every time I go there, we run well and have been in position to win the race. When we go there, I'm very comfortable and feel like we know what it takes to win."

Burton's RCR teammates - Menard and Kevin Harvick - finished sixth and seventh, respectively, in the Daytona 500 to give the organization a good start to the season.

"To carry that momentum from Daytona to Phoenix is going to be exciting for all of us," Harvick said. "I know I look forward to going there just for the fact that I grew up racing there, and I enjoy the track."

Harvick is the most recent RCR winner in Phoenix, sweeping both races in 2006 on the old surface and configuration. Last year, PIR's one-mile oval was repaved and reconfigured following the spring race.

"The new surface was definitely racy," Harvick said. "They did a great job prepping for the race. With the shorter tracks, the grip is greater but it's a different environment than what you experience on the mile-and-a-half tracks. It was a great race. They spent a lot of time laying the track out, taking their strengths and weaknesses, and thinking about the fans as to what they can see from their seats. It all played out really well and I hope to have another good race this weekend."

One of the drivers to find success on the new track was Burton, who finished fourth last fall for his 13th top 10 in 25 starts at PIR.

"It was a good day," Burton said. "We ran well and competed all weekend. We were fast all weekend. It was just a really solid day. We had good pit stops, probably one of our better days all year for the pit crew. It was a good day all the way around."

Menard, who will be making his 11th start at PIR, is also coming off a good run on the new configuration, finishing ninth.

RCR will field a fourth car in Sunday's race for Brendan Gaughan, who will be driving the No. 33 Chevrolet in the next four events. Elliott Sadler was behind the wheel of the No. 33 for a 27th-place finish in the Daytona 500 earlier this week.

"The opportunity to run four races for Richard Childress in the Sprint Cup Series is truly amazing," said Gaughan, who will make his first Cup start since the 2010 Daytona 500. "RCR has top-notch equipment and teamed me with a winning crew chief in Gil Martin. Everyone deserves a second chance and I am ecstatic that my second chance in the Sprint Cup Series is in the No. 33 Chevrolet with RCR."

Motor Racing Network - "The Voice of NASCAR" - will have live coverage of the SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500 on Sunday at 2 p.m. (ET). Be sure to tune to your local radio station for all the action. If you can't hear the broadcast, try your local station's website for free live streaming or listen here at MotorRacingNetwork.com.

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