With the 2019 season serving as the 50th anniversary of Richard Childress Racing, we plan to dip into the archives to present the stories of iconic moments, race wins, championships and much more as part of our weekly Throwback Thursday series.
As the NASCAR Xfinity and NASCAR Cup Series roll into Sin City for this weekend’s events at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, we take a look back at the March 2007 300-mile Xfinity Series race for this week’s edition of Throwback Thursday. That weekend, a cagy veteran on his way back to the top bested a hot up-and-coming younger driver in front of his hometown crowd, delivering a thrilling finish.
Jeff Burton had only made a handful of starts in the Xfinity Series leading up to the 2007 season, but with his move to Richard Childress Racing more Xfinity Series events were added to his schedule in the No. 29 Chevrolet, splitting time with Scott Wimmer behind the wheel.
Winless in the series since 2002 when he was with Roush Fenway Racing, Burton was able to get around then 22-year-old Kyle Busch in the final corner of the final lap in what would become one of the most memorable finishes in Las Vegas Motor Speedway history.
Starting in the sixth position, Burton led a total of 37 laps but had to race the Las Vegas native for the win over the final handful of laps. Burton was able to get the lead from Busch with 11 laps to go, however, a wreck on the backstretch brought out the caution – and subsequently the red – flag.
That incident set up a final seven-lap dash to the checkered flag.
On the restart, Busch got the advantage and took the lead from Burton on the bottom side down the backstretch and into Turn 3. On the next lap, Burton again went high in Turn 1 and nearly collected the outside wall, running through the speedy-dry put down from the prior incident. With four laps to go, the rear of the No. 29 Chevrolet swung out and nearly tagged the outside wall exiting Turn 4.
Burton was doing all he could to catch Busch and put his team back in Victory Lane. Over the two laps, Burton got up on the wheel and closed the gap on Busch’s No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
Driving into Turn 3 on the high side, Burton got a nose to the right rear quarter panel of Busch’s car at the exit of Turn 4. With enough of a nose in there to prevent Busch from shutting the door, Burton held his line as Busch tried to side-draft and spun to the inside grass as the No. 29 Chevrolet took the checkered flag.
The victory was Burton’s 21st win in the Xfinity Series and first for RCR. That season, he would go on to win two races, earn seven top-five and 10 top-10 finishes.
“He passed me,” Burton said after climbing from the car in Victory Lane. “I drove wide open into Turn 1 and 2, and he just turned left and went by me. I was like, ‘Gah, now what are we going to do?’
“We were better on old tires, we just kept coming and coming and coming,” said Burton. “I saw he was having trouble in (Turns) 3 and 4, and knew that was the only choice was to go higher than him. I knew he was going to be high so I figured what the hell, I’ll stick it in there and see what happens. He did exactly what he should have done. I hate he got his car torn up.”