Daytona Finish Needed for Burton

Jeff Burton

Burton has endured a frustrating first half of the season with a myriad of problems plaguing the No. 31 Chevrolet team. (Photo: Getty Images)


Jeff Burton’s second-place finish in Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway was a welcomed relief for the veteran driver.

The Richard Childress Racing pilot has endured a frustrating first half of the season with a myriad of problems plaguing the No. 31 Chevrolet team. But Burton is hopeful his runner-up run Saturday night will be the first in the string of solid outings.

“Well, certainly feels good to have a good finish,” said Burton, who scored only his second top five of the season. “We've had a miserable year, and to come -- to get out of Daytona with a second place finish, we ought to be happy. We finished fifth here in the 500 and second tonight, so two top 5s down here is probably more than I can expect with all the wrecks and stuff. Hopefully it's something that'll kick start our year a little bit. It's been a difficult year, and hopefully we can build on this.”

Burton was the best of the RCR trio and tried working with teammates Kevin Harvick and Paul Menard in the draft during Saturday night’s third restrictor-plate race of the season. But while the teams had plotted similar strategies, Burton says employing those plans was another story.

“All the Childress cars ended up on the same strategy based on what the race delivered with the water temp and oil temp situation, and we worked together a fair amount getting back up through the pack,” he said. “In pack racing it's hard to work with any one person.”

While pleased with his result in Daytona, Burton knows is doesn’t necessarily mean similar runs are ahead.

“Well, momentum is created by running well,” he said. “Momentum doesn't create good runs, good runs create momentum. So we've got to go to New Hampshire and perform.

“I mean, running well and finishing well here tonight is great. Unfortunately it doesn't mean a lot about how our cars are going to drive when we go to Michigan or somewhere. We're obviously behind on that or we wouldn't be 20th in points. We've got to perform. If we perform, the momentum will get built. Momentum is in my eyes is a highly over used word. Success creates momentum, it's not the other way around.”

Burton heads to New Hampshire 18th in the Sprint Cup Series point standings and any hope of making the Chase will have to come as a wild card. That means at least two wins from now until the checkered flag flies at Richmond in early September, which may be a tall order for a team that has not been able to contend for victory lane so far this season.

But for now Burton is simply concentrating on just running well and not dwelling on the success of last weekend.

“Well, it doesn't last for very long for me, a good win or a bad loss,” Burton said. “You know, I get over those things pretty quickly. Our success or fail our tonight doesn't dictate our success or failure next week. It feels good tonight, it'll feel good tomorrow, and then Monday it'll be back to work. It's always good to have finishes, but we need to put a string of finishes together. This sport will -- just when you think you've got it all figured out, you'll realize how stupid you are and vice versa.

“It feels good to finish good here tonight, but my biggest concern is how we're going to go to New Hampshire and run and how we're going to use our off week to improve so we can go to Indy and run well and go to Michigan and run well. That's my largest concern.”

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