Burton Begins Richard Childress Racing Era With Kentucky Speedway Test
Jeff Burton settled into the seat of the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series (NNCS) No. 30 AOL Chevrolet for the first time today during a one-day test at Kentucky Speedway.
The 37-year-old turned his first laps with Richard Childress Racing after ending his nine-year relationship with Roush Racing last week.
He begins the next chapter in his 12-year career ranked 23rd in the series standings after generating a season-best fourth place finish at Dover and top-10 performances at Talladega Superspeedway and Infineon Raceway.
Burton was impressed with his new surroundings and said his first order of business was establishing solid lines of communication with an AOL Team that has now worked with four different drivers in the past two NNCS seasons.
"I think it's going real well, the speeds are good," he said. "We're just trying to learn about each other. I'm working with the whole team to learn who's responsible for what and who I talk to about certain things. I haven't driven Chevrolets in more than 10 years and there are a whole lot of things they do at Childress that I'm not familiar with. The more I can expose myself to that, the sooner we'll have the chance to be successful."
After working with defending series champion Matt Kenseth and Roush drivers Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch and Mark Martin during the past several seasons, Burton said he is looking forward to racing with new teammates Kevin Harvick and Robby Gordon for the first time at Michigan International Speedway this Sunday.
"I think they're going to expose me to things I haven't been exposed to and I'll expose them to some things they haven't been exposed to," Burton said. "We'll be able to work well together. Kevin and I have talked a lot already. Robby and I haven't had the chance, but I'm sure we will. I'm looking forward to it, I think it's going to be good."
While not officially eliminated from the "Chase for the NEXTEL Cup," Burton needs to gain a minimum of 419 points in the next four races to tie Evernham Motorsports driver Jeremy Mayfield in the 10th position in the series standings. With that situation in mind, Burton plans to produce solid results in the closing 14 races of the season to create a firm baseline for the start of the 2005 campaign.
"The reason I agreed to leave Roush rather than finishing the year out was that I thought it was in my best interest to join the AOL team and spend some time together," he said. "I'm ecstatic I did because there are a lot of issues I'm able to work on now, that if I weren't here we wouldn't be working on. I think we'll be better 10 races from now and next year because we've had this time together."
Burton tested with Harvick, Kyle Busch and his No. 84 NNCS Hendrick car, along with Evernham Motorsports driver Bill Elliott.
~ Kentucky Speedway ~