The first hint of spring at Kentucky Speedway enabled Jeff Burton and his No. 99 CITGO Ford Roush Racing Team to extend their search for the extra speed that will help them contend for the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Championship.

Burton enters the week fourth in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series Championship race and trailing leader Michael Waltrip by 54 points, said he was using his one-day test in Kentucky to build chemistry with his young team and explore methods of shaving valuable seconds off his lap times.

He finished sixth last Sunday, marking his first top-10 finish of the season, after opening the year with respective 11th and 12th place finishes in Daytona and Rockingham.

"We had a good weekend at Vegas, the worst we were all day was the last run," Burton said. "That's part of us being a new team. Even though this team has been around for a while and the number has been around for a while, this is a brand new team. We have to learn each other and figure out how to make a car better during the race.

"We're satisfied, but we're not overwhelmed. We don't feel like we've done a great job, we feel like we've done a really nice job. For where we are as a team, with our experience together, with all the other things we've got going on I'm pleased. We need to improve though. We're just a little bit off on speed, but we're not way off. We've had respectable finishes, but we want all of them to be in the top 10. Then, we need to knock down top fives. I feel confident we'll get there, but we're not there right now."

He said his CITGO Ford team is benefiting from the combined Roush Racing success of Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Greg Biffle. "All our teams are working really hard and working real well together, too. We all went to Las Vegas with a little different things because it's early in the year and we're trying to figure out these new bodies. For the most part, the set-ups on three of the cars were real close to the same and that's a good sign. That means that we're really starting to be able to learn from each other and apply that knowledge on Sundays," Burton said.

He concluded by commenting on Kentucky Speedway's potential role in the future of NASCAR Winston Cup Series racing.

"It's a great facility, beautiful facility. What I care about for the future of Winston Cup racing isn't so much whether the drivers like the race tracks but whether the fans like it," Burton said. "I'm against running as many races as possible, but for running as many places as possible. If we can keep the number of races down and go to as many races tracks as possible, I think that's what's in the best interest of the sport."

Kentucky Speedway opens May 9-10 with the return of the ARCA RE/MAX Series for the "Channel 5-205" and Legends Series race with NASCAR Winston Cup Series stars. Racing continues June 13-14 when the NASCAR Busch Series convenes to contest "The Meijer 300" and the NASCAR All-Pro Series runs "The Kentucky 150." The July 11-12 weekend features the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series "Kentucky 225" and NASCAR Goody's Dash Series "Kentucky 150." The Indy Racing League Indy Car Series will provide the season finale August 16-17 with "The Belterra Casino Indy 300" and Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series "Kentucky 100."

Both season and single-event tickets for 2003 Kentucky Speedway race events are on sale now. Fans can purchase tickets in the following ways:

  • By phone at 1-888-652-RACE (single-event ) or 859-578-2300 (season)
  • Online at www.kentuckyspeedway.com or www.Tickets.com
  • At the Kentucky Speedway corporate office at 2216 Dixie Hwy., Suite 200, in Ft. Mitchell, Ky. or the speedway's Fan Center, off of Hwy. 35, in Sparta, Ky.

Through Tickets.com retail outlets located at the Cincinnati Visitor's Center and in select Meijer stores and supercenters, Play-It-Again Sports and Hader Hardware locations.

Tickets.com facilitates Kentucky Speedway single-event ticket and Reserved RV camping pass sales to local clients and race fans. A complete list of retail locations is available online at www.Tickets.com, or www.kentuckyspeedway.com and by phone at 1-888-652-RACE. Tickets.com service fees will apply to all outlet, phone and Internet orders.

~ Kentucky Speedway ~