Jeff Burton Fans Feel Good after Bounce-Back Performance

Lee FraserCorrespondent INovember 16, 2009

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 06:  Jeff Burton, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, stands on pit road during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 6, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
John Harrelson/Getty Images

After Jimmie Johnson dominated the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500, looking like he locked up the championship and receiving all the hype, the story of Jeff Burton's good run seemed overshadowed.

After a dismal season by the entire Richard Childress Racing Organization, team owner Richard Childress decided to shuffle around the crew chiefs.

The shuffle placed the most successful crew chief, Todd Barrier, with veteran Jeff Burton, who has arguably had the worst season of the four RCR drivers.

Burton started off great in Daytona. He was fast the entire race, but then got caught in a crash later on.

It was downhill from there.

Over the next 13 races, Burton managed to spread out five top-10 finishes, but still wasn't having the season most thought he was capable of having.

Burton continued downhill from the spring Pocono race up till Talladega, racing without another top-10 finish.

Before Talladega, Childress made his announcement and the crew chief changes took place.

Boom. A fifth place finish for Burton at Talladega.

Lightening in a bottle? Or a turnaround ? The next two races proved it was a turnaround.

After a 42nd place starting spot at Talladega, and racing a back-up car with no laps on it after destroying his primary car, Burton again finished in the top-10, placing ninth at Texas Motor Speedway.

It was the first time since the fall 2008 Talladega and Charlotte races that Burton had back-to-back top-10 finishes.

But then came Phoenix.

Burton came out and qualified a dismal 36th. Everyone thought that the team's run of success was over.

But 50 laps in, Andy Petree and Dale Jarrett mentioned that Burton was up to 20th and moving up fast still.

The cards seemed to fall right for Burton and new crew chief Todd Barrier. They soon were in contention and upset Jimmie Johnson's perfect day with a win. But Jeff used up his tires and settled for second, his highest finish since his win at Charlotte last year.

It was great to see Jeff Burton contend again.

We knew RCR was running badly, but at 42, people were beginning to wonder if Jeff Burton's NASCAR career was coming to a close.

Last week's run at Phoenix proved Burton still has the drive and skill to race with the best of them, and could be a title contender once again in 2010.

Let's hope. Jeff Burton is a great guy who worked hard and has done it the right way, and there's no one I would rather see knock Jimmie Johnson off of his streak. And yes, that even includes Mark Martin!


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