Jeff Burton has come a long way since he made his first start in the Nationwide Series. That race wasn't a fair indicator of the Nationwide Series success that has brought him 27 wins, 88 top-fives, and 147 top-10s heading into what will become his 300th Nationwide Series career start.
Burton's Nationwide Series debut came in 1988 at the Martinsville race in the No. 64 car owned by his father, John. Burton went two laps into the race after qualifying 16th, before an engine failure sent him to a last place finish in then what was a 28 car field.
Burton's history in the Nationwide Series is just as spectacular as his career at Lowe's Motor Speedway. Burton holds six career victories at the track, three each of the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series.
Burton also holds 14 top-10s, which is the most in Nationwide Series competition, in his 30 career starts at the track.
“We’ve definitely run well at Charlotte in the Holiday Inn/Holiday Inn Express Chevrolet,” Burton said of his past runs in the Holiday Inn Chevrolet at Lowe's Motor Speedway. “We’re bringing a brand new car with us this weekend and I’m excited to see how it performs.
"Our season has not gone the way we have wanted it to thus far, but Charlotte is a place where we can get back to where we need to be. Everyone in the Nationwide shop is working hard and we’ve been improving our program week by week.”
Burton and the No. 29 team will be working with their new crew chief Doug Randolph for the first time. Randolph is taking over for former crew chief Dan Deeringhoff who has moved over to Richard Childress Racing's developmental driver program to become the crew chief for Austin Dillion.
Randolph has spent nine years in NASCAR as a crew chief, most recently at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing with Aric Almirola. His career also includes stints at Chip Ganassi Racing, ppc Racing, MB2 Motorsports, Petty Enterprises, and Dale Earnhardt Inc.
“I’m excited to be working with our new crew chief Doug Randolph this weekend and I feel he will play a major role in helping us run consistently the rest of the season,” Burton said of the new crew chief.
“I’m honored to be a part of Richard Childress Racing and their No. 29 program,” said Randolf of his new opportunity at RCR. “This organization has a history of performing well in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and I definitely have big shoes to fill.
"I’m excited to get to the track this weekend and work with our team. I feel with the data we acquired from wind tunnel testing and the information Jeff (Burton) will give us in practice, we should have a strong showing in qualifying and during the race.”
Brad Keselowski, who is starting his fourth Nationwide Series race at Lowe's Motor Speedway for JR Motorsports this weekend, earned some respect from the entire Nationwide Series field after standing up to Denny Hamlin in the last year's Carquest Auto Parts 300.
During the race, Hamlin felt that Keselowski didn't give him enough racing room, especially in the closing laps.
Keselowski held his ground firm, saying that, “I race one day a week, not two. I have 200 laps to prove myself, not 400. I have to make the most of every lap.”
That comment, which proved to be one of the most memorable quotes of the season, seemed to spring board Keselowski into a more competitive status for the remainder of the season.
After his third-place finish in the race at Lowe's, Keselowski earned two wins, 13 top-fives, and 21 top-10s in the 2008 Nationwide Series season.
Keselowski says that between the spring race at Lowe's and this season's Talladega Cup race, he has shown that neither he or his team will back down to anybody.
“The spring race at Lowe’s last year was a race that stands out in my mind for a few different reasons,” Keselowski said. “For one, it proved to a lot of people that my team and I were not going to back down to anyone—Cup driver, Nationwide driver or otherwise—and I think that was evident during the race.
“I knew my team and team owner, who was also my teammate that night, were behind me. It was kind of the same situation as this year at Talladega, with me holding my ground against Carl [Edwards] to win the race. In both situations, I feel that I made the right decision.”
Choice USA, holding company of Sun Drop, President Jay Falls on the return of Sun Drop as a sponsor in NASCAR. “This is a great opportunity for Sun Drop to get back in racing. We loved racing and teaming up with Dale Sr., but JD Motorsports and Danny will represent our brand well. We couldn’t be more excited about it.”
Justin Allgaier said about driving at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. “I am excited about this weekend. We are racing the same car that ran really well at Bristol in March. We know we have a package that can get around these kinds of tracks, we just have to fine tune it. [Crew chief] Chad [Walter] and all the guys on the Verizon Wireless team have been busting their tails trying to find that bit of speed that will take us to Victory Lane. How cool would it be to win our back yard? We just need to keep riding this wave of momentum. We had a great run two weeks ago in Darlington and now we just need to continue to make good decisions.”
More Weekend Headlines:
Kyle Busch is going for his third consecutive Nationwide Series win at Lowe's Motor Speedway this weekend at the Carquest 300. Busch, who holds four career wins at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Nationwide Series competition, is just two wins away of tying Mark Martin's record of six wins in the Nationwide Series.
A total of 14 drivers will be performing "double-duty" this weekend. The list is composed of Greg Biffle, Mike Bliss, Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Paul Menard, Joe Nemechek, David Ragan, Tony Raines, Scott Speed, and Brian Vickers.
The No. 19 Stellar-Quest Racing team will attempt their season debut this weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway. The team, a purely volunteer team, will partner with J.C. Stout to qualify for one of the 43 spots, out of the 51 cars that have entered this weekend's race. Stout has two Nationwide Series starts this season for Johnny Davis.
Brandon Knupp, driving the No. 75 Schacht Motorsports Chevrolet, will be making his Nationwide Series debut this weekend. He has nine starts in the Camping World Truck Series since the 2007 season, earning a career best finish of 23rd. Knupp raced in his fifth start of the year last weekend at this track in the Camping World Truck Series, coming home to a 28th place finish.
Weekend at a Glance:
What: CARQUEST 300
Where: Lowe’s Motor Speedway
When: Saturday, May 23 at 7:30 PM ET
Length: 300 miles / 200 laps
TV: ESPN2, 7 PM ET
Radio: PRN / Sirius-XM NASCAR Radio
2008 Winner: Kyle Busch
2008 Pole: Brian Vickers
Comin' Up Next:
Next up for the Nationwide Series drivers is Dover International Speedway on May 30. Last season, Joey Logano finished sixth in his career debut in NASCAR's top-three national touring series.
Jeffrey Earnhardt is also scheduled to make his series debut for Rick Ware Racing. The Heluva Good! 200 will be broadcast on ABC beginning at 2 PM ET for the network's third race of four this season.