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Burton leads RCR 1-2-3 sweep at Bristol

by Pete McCole
Sunday, March 16, 2008

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Jeff Burton

Jeff Burton has been a bridesmaid at Bristol three times in 28 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at the famed half-mile track, but on Sunday it took extra-laps to finally break into victory lane as Burton led the final two laps of a green-white-checkered finish to win Sunday’s Food City 500 for his career victory at Bristol. 

Burton passed Denny Hamlin halfway through the opening lap of the overtime session and held off teammate Kevin Harvick to score his first career Cup victory at Bristol. Clint Boyer finished third to give Richard Childress Racing their first. 1-2-3 finish. Greg Biffle and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. rounded out the top five.

Burton led just two laps – the final two – for his first triumph at the .53-mile oval and his 20th career Sprint Cup victory.

“It feels good to get to victory lane here,” said Burton. “This win at Bristol is real special. I have been lucky enough to win Nationwide races here, somebody told me today that we finished second in this thing three times and never won it, I said to myself, 'Wow, that
isn't right, we need to win this thing'.  It is awesome.”

Jeff Burton takes the lead on Lap 505 after passing Denny Hamlin on a green-white-checkered restart. Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer also passed Hamlin to give Richard Childress Racing a 1-2-3 finish
Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR
Burton’s victory came at the expense of Tony Stewart, who spun out after contact with Kevin Harvick with two laps to go, bringing out the caution that set up the green-white-checkered finish.

“I just lost it there underneath of Tony,” said Harvick. “I got up on the inside there and just flat out lost the thing. I was trying to win the race and I hate it.

“It's just the way it goes. I got down on the apron.  I lost the car.  I hit the side of Tony.  That was pretty much the end of it. Just made a mistake. They can take it for what it's worth and go on with it.”

Stewart led 267 laps during Sundays race, marking the third straight spring Bristol race where he’s led the most laps. So far, he’s failed to win all three.

After passing Harvick to re-gain the top spot on lap 414, Stewart looked poised to break the streak, holding off Harvick through the final 40 laps before Brian Vickers blew a tire on lap 489, setting up what was shaping up to be a ten-lap dash to the finish

Having run well over 120 laps on their tires, Harvick and crew chief Todd Berrier took a risky gamble, giving up the second position to come to pit road for fresh rubber. Nearly all the lead lap cars followed Harvick to pit road, leaving only Stewart, Hamlin and Earnhardt, Jr. left on the track.

The gamble paid off for Harvick, as he re-joined the field in the fourth position as the green flag flew with six laps to go.

As the race resumed, Hamlin quickly passed Stewart for the race lead as Harvick began to work on Earnhardt, finally passing him on the inside before moving in a Stewart.

Running side-by-side entering turn one, Harvick’s car appeared to wash up the racetrack into Stewart, sending Stewart’s Toyota backwards into the outside wall.

In the ensuing melee to avoid Stewart’s spinning car, Burton dived under Harvick to take the second position. Harvick recovered to stay in third while Stewart pitted and rejoined the field in 14th.

“I thought I left (Harvick) plenty of room, but I don’t know I was far enough ahead of him that I didn’t see where he hit me or when he hit me,” said Stewart. “I’m sure some how it was my fault. I’m just sorry I got in his way.”

Coming to the green flag for the final restart, Hamlin’s car faltered right out of the gate with an apparent fuel pickup problem as Burton flashed by to take the lead for the final time.

Burton credited his crew, and crew chief Scott Miller, making the gutsy call to come to pit road on the final caution flag for fresh tires.

“This team won this race today,” said Burton. “Great pit stops and Scott Miller making a great call there at the end. This team won this race, I was just lucky to be driving it.

“Obviously without a caution we weren’t going to win. Things work out sometimes for you and sometimes they don’t. Today they worked out for us and we’ll take it.”

Hamlin recovered and finished sixth, a disappointing result despite leading 98 laps.

“Another really frustrating day for us -- I know I could have held those guys off there at the end, but we were either out of fuel or it was a fuel pickup problem like we had here last year,” said Hamlin. “By all of calculations were good on fuel to the end, including a green-white-checkered, but we just couldn't seem to pick all of it up.

“It's been that kind of season for us -- we can't get a break.”

Kasey Kahne came home seventh, followed by Aric Almirola, who posted a career-best eighth-place finish in his first start of 2008. David Gilliland and Matt Kenseth made up the rest of the top ten.

2002 Sprint Cup Champion Dale Jarrett finished 37th in his final points start of the season before turning over the wheel of the no. 44 UPS Toyota to David Reutimann for the rest of the season

“It wasn’t the finish I would have liked,” said Jarrett. “I’m able to go out with the best sponsor in the business in UPS and I would have liked to have had a better day for them, but I really can’t be too upset when you take into consideration the kind of career I have been fortunate to have.”

Kyle Busch retains the series points lead heading into NASCAR’s off-week. Greg Biffle trails by 30points behind in second, followed by Kevin Harvick. Jeff Burton moved up one spot to fourth while Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also moved up a spot to claim the fifth spot.

Results

FIN

ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 8 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 190/5 506 Running
2 10 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 175/5 506 Running
3 3 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 170/5 506 Running
4 14 16 Greg Biffle Ford Jackson Hewitt 160/0 506 Running
5 15 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / AMP Energy 155/0 506 Running
6 12 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Express 155/5 506 Running
7 20 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 146/0 506 Running
8 16 8 Aric Almirola Chevrolet U.S. Army 142/0 506 Running
9 32 38 David Gilliland Ford FreeCreditReport.com 138/0 506 Running
10 4 17 Matt Kenseth Ford DISH Network 134/0 506 Running
11 2 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 130/0 506 Running
12 36 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 127/0 506 Running
13 11 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 124/0 506 Running
14 6 20 Tony Stewart Toyota The Home Depot 131/10 506 Running
15 21 42 Juan Montoya Dodge Texaco / Havoline 118/0 505 Running
16 9 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 115/0 504 Running
17 22 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 117/5 504 Running
18 1 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 114/5 504 Running
19 27 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Stanley Tools 106/0 504 Running
20 39 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 103/0 504 Running
21 24 6 David Ragan Ford AAA Insurance 100/0 504 Running
22 31 66 Scott Riggs Chevrolet Haas Automation 97/0 503 Running
23 40 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA AUTO PARTS 99/5 503 Running
24 28 7 Robby Gordon Dodge RVs.com / Camping World 91/0 503 Running
25 25 96 J.J. Yeley Toyota DLP HDTV 88/0 503 Running
26 17 01 Regan Smith * Chevrolet DEI / Principal Financial Group 85/0 503 Running
27 30 28 Travis Kvapil Ford Yates Racing 82/0 503 Running
28 35 45 Kyle Petty Dodge Marathon American Spirit Motor Oil 79/0 501 Running
29 7 77 Sam Hornish Jr. * Dodge Mobil 1 76/0 501 Running
30 33 70 Jeremy Mayfield Chevrolet Haas Automation 73/0 500 Running
31 23 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 70/0 500 Running
32 29 15 Paul Menard Chevrolet PEAK / Menards 67/0 499 Running
33 13 12 Ryan Newman Dodge ALLTEL 64/0 499 Running
34 34 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 61/0 498 Running
35 42 78 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet Furniture Row/ DenverMattress.com 58/0 498 Running
36 26 40 Dario Franchitti * Dodge The Hartford 55/0 497 Running
37 37 44 Dale Jarrett Toyota UPS 52/0 496 Running
38 19 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker 49/0 489 Running
39 38 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 46/0 486 Running
40 43 84 Mike Skinner Toyota Red Bull 43/0 441 Running
41 41 49 Ken Schrader Dodge Qtrax.com 40/0 420 Running
42 5 5 Casey Mears Chevrolet CARQUEST / Kellogg's 37/0 417 Running
43 18 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 34/0 373 Running

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