Burton, Ranger achieve goals in Sonoma
Jeff Burton is hoping that bad luck on Friday isn't going to ruin his day on Sunday. Burton, who will make his 500th consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start here on Sunday, was one of the fastest cars in practice for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on ...
Jeff Burton is hoping that bad luck on Friday isn't going to ruin his day on Sunday.
Burton, who will make his 500th consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start here on Sunday, was one of the fastest cars in practice for the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on Saturday. The problem is that he will have to work his way through the field if he wants to have any success in the race on Sunday.
Burton drew the first qualifying draw on Friday and said that going out early in the session definitely hurt their chances of a good starting spot.
"We got a bad draw in qualifying," Burton said. "We went out first. It is what it is."
Burton has just one top-five finish in 16 career races here but said that he is a lot more comfortable finding his way around the road courses and he thanks his former teammate Mark Martin for helping him understand how to be fast through the twists and turns.
"The biggest thing that helped me though was when I went to Roush and had a chance to go to Watkins Glen to test with Mark," Burton said. "That was the biggest thing I could ever do because I was there on the same day, same two days, three days, whatever it was and I was able to look at his data, talk to him, follow him around on the race track. That did more for me than anything, just practical experience."
Burton understands that the two road course events on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule are an important factor in qualifying for the Chase for the Championship.
"It pays the same amount of points for these races as they do for all the other races," Burton said. "If you go back and watch, the road course races have been real important to get in to the Chase. We are coming here feeling good about what we've been doing. Feel like we've built a series of road course cars that are going to enable me to do some things that I haven't been able to do the last few years. So, we're pretty optimistic and looking forward to getting started."
Burton said that he didn't have his eye on the 500 start milestone and wasn't even aware of it until the past couple of weeks.
"I love what I do and I did see, or someone told me that (Ricky) Rudd was eight hundred and something and I quickly did the math in my head as to how many years I would have to race to do that and I don't think I am going to make that," Burton laughed. "I love what I do. I am proud to do it in the series I do it in and I think it is the best racing in the world as far as major series go. Feel fortunate to be able to do it for as long as I've been able to do it."
Marcos Ambrose had the fastest car in both practice sessions on Saturday. Burton was second fastest in the first session and was third fastest in happy hour. Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. also put in fast times in both sessions.
Ranger wins NASCAR K&N Series at Sonoma
Andrew Ranger from Roxton Pond, Quebec passed David Gilliland for the lead midway through the race and then coasted to the checkered flag to win the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Thunder Valley Casino Resort 200 here today.
Ranger, a two-time NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion, was making his third start in the K&N Series this season and first ever at Sonoma.
Jason Bowles paced the field for the first 16 laps but dropped back in the field and then ran out of fuel coming to the checkered flag. He was scored in the 22nd position.
Paulie Harraka was second while Brandon Davis finished third. Eric Holmes and Michael Self rounded out the top five. Gilliland, Boris Said, who finished 14th, and Mattias Ekstrom, who suffered a mechanical failure and finished 36th, will also race tomorrow in the Sprint Cup Series race.
Ranger is the first Canadian to win a race in this series since Gary Smith did it in 1998.
WS: Sonoma: Jonathon Gomez race report
ES: Loudon: Series round five preview