Mention to Jeff Burton that he's having a quietly successful Sprint Cup season and he replies, "I'm not a big name, like Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. I'm not flashy. That's good, I'm happy where we are."
Burton is a solid fifth in points. After winning at Bristol, Tenn., in the season's fifth Cup race, he led the points standings for 4 weeks. Driving the No. 31 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing, Burton was consistently strong.
Following his first victory at Bristol in 29 starts at the popular track, his lowest finish in the next nine races was 12th. He was second in points until a 37th-place finish at Daytona early last month dropped him to third.
Since Daytona, however, he's had only one top-10 finish. Burton knows he needs to build some momentum entering the Chase for the Championship next month. The 41-year-old Virginian has finished seventh in the last two Chases.
"We're a little behind," Burton said. "If you look at the speed that Jimmie Johnson and his guys produce, the speed that Kyle Busch and his guys produce, we haven't been able to do that. We've got to find a way to create some speed."
Burton is in his fourth full season with Childress Racing after 8 1/2 seasons and 17 Cup victories with Roush Racing. He's added three wins with Childress.
"I came here to help move my career back in the direction I was accustomed to being in," he said. "It was a new challenge."
Burton took the time to talk about a few subjects besides racing, including the Olympics and the environment.
"I love the Olympics," he said. "You watch sports you don't normally watch. You root for anyone wearing an American uniform."
As a Duke basketball fan, Burton is particularly interested in the U.S. men's team (aka NBA all-stars) and has followed how Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski has blended the pro stars into a cohesive team.
"Coach K established certain parameters for the players to follow to be on the team," Burton said. "He had to instill a team ethic and philosophy. LeBron James will do the right things for the team."
Regarding the environment and alternate fuels, Burton said: "I think every single person in this country needs to be looking at better ways to live their life every day. Whether it's recycling, or driving less, or whatever it is.
"We [NASCAR] need to be doing the same thing. We are leaders in the automotive industry. In a utopian society, these cars would be as green as possible, but the only way to get there is to try to get there." - philly.com
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