By admin | March 19, 2009
By Richard Allen
It is never fair to say that a driver stole a victory because to remain close enough to take advantage of the misfortune of others means that driver had done enough to win fair and square.
With that said, it still felt somewhat like Jeff Burton stole one last year in the Food City 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway. Burton led only two laps all day and those laps led did not occur until five laps after the race was supposed to have ended.
Tony Stewart and Burton’s Richard Childress Racing teammate Kevin Harvick tangled in turn 2 just after the completion of lap 498 to bring out the race‘s final caution. Since the field had not yet taken the white flag, a green/white/checkered restart was called for.
Still, it did not appear as though Burton was in position to take the victory. He was in 2nd place behind Denny Hamlin as the cars readied for the final restart. On that restart, Hamlin’s car sputtered and Burton blew by to take the lead.
The driver of the #31 Chevrolet still had to hold off the determined charge of Harvick but was able to beat him to the checkered flag. Burton scored his first win of 2008 and his first ever win on the high banked east Tennessee oval. Burton, Harvick and Clint Bowyer gave RCR a 1-2-3 sweep.
“We had some breaks, and we put ourselves in position to take advantage of those breaks, and that’s what we did today,” Burton declared in victory lane.
Jeff Burton certainly did not dominate the 2008 Food City 500 but he was in the right place at the right time. Sometimes in racing that’s all that matters. He did not necessarily steal the win, but he did pick up a bit of a freebie.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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