Week 12 looks a little different than usual in the Sprint Cup Series in 2010. It's now the "Monster Mile," Dover International Speedway.
And for Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon, two of the most experienced drivers in the sport today, maybe a chance to finally get the first win of 2010 that has been on a string and pulled away as they reached their arms out to get it.
Last week at Darlington, towards the end of the race, it looked like it was late 90's Darlington Raceway all over again. A classic Jeff Burton-Jeff Gordon showdown to the finish.
Both ran into some hard luck.
First was Gordon. As Tony Stewart dove off onto pit road, so did he, and he couldn't get his No. 24 Chevy wowed down slow enough to make it in. Losing valuable time on the race track.
Then some good luck for Jeff.
He came down pit road, and the caution came out. Gordon decided not to pit, and come back out on the track; only losing a lap, and getting the lucky dog, being able to pit with the leaders.
It was during that caution that Jeff Burton came down pit road. Burton had one of the better cars of the evening. He came down, and like everyone else, took two tires and enough gas to make it to the end, and took his No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy back out on the racetrack.
It was then we heard MRN Radio's Joe Moore state that Burton had ran over the air hose, and had to come down for a pass-through penalty.
Burton stopped, took the other two tires and left, costing him the victory, and he wound up finishing 8th.
Between Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon, there has been NO luck so far for either of them in 2010.
It started at California for Burton. A great race car all day long, but just didn't have enough for the victory. Burton had led 46 laps, but ended up third.
The next stroke of 2010 bad luck for Jeff Burton was at Martinsville.
Burton clearly had the best car. The class of the field. Towards the later going of the race, Burton was running second to Denny Hamlin, and seemed like he was just toying with the No. 11 FedEx Toyota. But a blown tire ended Burton's day with a 20th place finish.
Then it was Texas. Again Burton had one of the better cars, and a late-race caution and a poor re-start had him end up with a bittersweet eighth-place finish.
The next week was Talladega. After practice, the reporters were asking people in the garage area who was the car to beat. Almost every finger pointed to the No. 31 car, as Burton had set a new restrictor plate speed record in practice.
He was working his way through the pack, when he got involved in the "big one" and ended up 32nd.
A fourth at Richmond seemed to have put Burton back on the right track.
Then it was onto Darlington, another solid eighth-place finish, but Burton has got to be getting as frustrated as ever with top tens and looking to visit victory lane.
And what better place to do so than Dover? It was here in 2006 where Burton snapped a 175-race winless streak with a victory beating Matt Kenseth.
It was Burton's only win to date at the "Monster Mile." But look for him to rebound again, as he's having his best season in years. He was my pick from the beginning to win the title, and still is. He just needs some luck.
Jeff Gordon is in the same boat.
Gordon has dominated 2010. It started at Las Vegas.
Jeff had led 219 of 267 laps and was on his way to victory, when a green-white-checkered had Jeff end up third.
Then it was Martinsville.
Other than his counterpart Jeff Burton, Gordon has the best car of the day. He led 92 of the 508 laps and was in the lead before the last green-white-checkered.
Jeff once again ended up third after contact with Matt Kenseth on the restart.
At Phoenix same thing. He was leading, but Ryan Newman beat him on the restart, and Gordon ran runner up.
At Texas the next week, he led 124 of 334 laps before getting caught up in someone else's mess on lap 317 and he finished 31st.
Jeff led four laps at Talladega and seemed to be camping out in the back before he and his teammate, Jimmie Johnson got together and Jeff ended up 22nd.
At Richmond Jeff led 144 laps of 400 and still finished second.
And Darlington, early on in the race I waved bye bye to Jeff and thought it was going to be a battle for second, before he had his troubles at Darlington too and still finished fourth.
The "Monster Mile" has been tamed by Jeff Gordon first, but not since his championship year of 2001.
Since then he's crashed out of here four times, and has had his struggles at other times.
Still, four wins at Dover is still great going forward, and so far he has looked like the Jeff Gordon of 2001, rather than the Jeff Gordon of the last eight years.
Either way, both Jeffs are looking to avoid "White Lightning," and conquer the "Monster Mile." If I were a betting man, I would definitely bet on Jeff.
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