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 Cup and Xfinity Series head to the Lone Star State for this weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, we are going back to April 2007 when Jeff Burton took the No. 31 Chevrolet to Victory Lane for the second time in his career at Richard Childress Racing.
The Samsung 500 was the seventh race of the 2007 Cup season and Burton and the No. 31 team put the purple Prilosec Chevrolet on the outside of the front row in qualifying, starting second to Jeff Gordon.
Despite starting second, Burton and the No. 31 team had little for Gordon, Kurt Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr., who led the majority of the 334 laps throughout the day. Earnhardt Jr. dropped out of the race with an engine issue, Busch fell a lap down late in the race and would end up 11th, but Gordon’s No. 24 Chevrolet remained the major threat to win.
However, with about 25 laps to go Gordon hit the wall exiting Turn 4 while leading, allowing Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Burton to close in on the wounded Chevrolet. As Kenseth battled with Gordon for the lead with 20 laps to go, Burton made his move under his former teammate Biffle to take the third position, all while closing the gap on the race for the top spot.
With 15 laps to go, the No. 31 Chevrolet was the fastest car on the track and quickly moved around Gordon for the second spot. With 10 laps to go, Burton was closing on the back bumper of Kenseth for the race lead.
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Although he had the fastest car in the field, Burton struggled to take the lead from Kenseth. Lap after lap, corner after corner, Burton would drive his No. 31 Chevrolet hard to the bottom of the track but could not complete the pass.
Burton took the white flag in the second position, but his hard work paid off as he was finally able to get the advantage and clear the No. 17 Ford off the exit of Turn 2.
The veteran was able to maintain the lead through the final corner to secure his second Cup Series win for RCR and become the first repeat winner in Texas Motor Speedway history – all while leading just one lap.
“Thank you, guys, for giving me good equipment,” Burton said before turning his car around to salute the fans on his victory lap.
“Matt’s a hell of a driver,” Burton said. “We were quite a bit faster than he was and he held me off for 15 laps or whatever. That’s just how good he is. My guys did a great job all day. We were really good on long runs, we got beat up on short runs. We got just what we needed. We got a long run and it worked out for us.”
The victory also brought Burton within eight points of the lead in the series standings early in the 2007 season.
“It’s a long year and there’s a long way to go,” he said of the points battle. “Certainly, we’ve done a great job to this point, but there’s a lot of work ahead of us. We’ve got to go to work again next week. I’ll go to battle with this team and take my best shot with it.”