Richard Childress Racing
February 24, 2012
Burton Finishes Fourth in Duel 150, Will Start Ninth in the 2012 Daytona 500
Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team finished fourth in the first Duel 150 qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway.
Start – 13
Finish – 4
Laps Led – 0
Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team finished fourth in the first Duel 150 qualifying race at Daytona International Speedway. After finishing 23rd in Daytona 500 qualifying on Sunday, the South Boston Va., native started 13th in the first of two 60-lap showdowns that determine the starting lineup for the 54th annual Daytona 500. Immediately, Burton vaulted into the top five where he would stay until the first caution flag period of the day waved on lap nine. Burton radioed to crew chief Drew Blickensderfer that car was “pushing” a little bit in the 31-degree banked corners of the 2.5-mile superspeedway. Blickensderfer called the veteran driver to pit road for fresh Goodyear tires and fuel. Upon return to green-flag conditions, Burton used the long caution-free run to test different lines on the track to prepare for Sunday’s 250-lap main event, never falling out of the top 10. Late in the race, Blickensderfer communicated to the 44-year-old driver that the No. 31 Chevrolet was 1.5 laps short on fuel. However, the break they needed came in the form of a late caution with only eight laps to go. That gave fourth-place running Burton the opportunity to come down pit road and get enough fuel to make it to the finish of the 150-mile thriller. Burton exited the pits in the fifth position, ready for the four-lap shootout to the checkered flag. On the final lap, Burton made a strong run to the outside in turns one and two, but a wreck on the backstretch forced NASCAR officials to wave the caution flag, freezing the field as they were running and relegating Burton to a fourth-place result. With the top-five effort, the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team will start ninth in Sunday’s Daytona 500.
JEFF BURTON QUOTE:
“I think we learned a lot. It’s hard. It is a big challenge to try to separate yourself from the pack, especially when everybody is trying to do the same. That in itself almost causes some of the wrecks. So, it’s hard. They are borderline too hot. If you run too long, you get the engines too hot. It’s just a real challenge. I think what you saw today is what you are going to see on Sunday. It’s just hard to make any ground up. You make a move trying to be aggressive and you lose a spot. It’s very much going to be a ‘protect your position race’ until you get yourself in the last little bit. Then, you are just going to have to go like hell and hope for the best.”