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NASCAR Winston Cup CMT 300 Report: #99, Jeff Burton

16 September 1997

 #99 Jeff Burton, Exide Batteries Ford Thunderbird 
 NASCAR Winston Cup Series
 CMT 300 Race Report
 New Hampshire International Speedway
 September 14, 1997
                     JEFF BURTON RACE RECAP: CMT 300
LOUDON, NH - For a team that in the past several weeks has been disgusted 
with their back-to-back second place finishes at both Darlington, and 
Richmond, a 14th-place finish in the CMT 300 at New Hampshire International 
Speedway may to those who were not there, sound like a disaster. To 
observers on pit lane who saw the Exide Batteries Racing Team clapping their 
hands and jumping up and down when the checkered flag flew, it may have 
seemed, however, that they had just won the race. 

The team showed up in Loudon, NH, knowing that a challenge awaited them. 
Their driver, Jeff Burton, was having problems with his inner ear that was 
causing him balance and orientation problems. Crew Chief Buddy Parrott asked 
Todd Bodine, a regular in the Busch Grand National Series, to fly to the 
speedway with the crew to practice and qualify the car for Burton. They 
brought the same car with them that not only had given them a strong second 
place finish in Richmond the week before, but also had won at Loudon in July. 
Track conditions must have changed because Bodine and the crew were unable to 
get a handle on the set-up, and wound up taking a provisional to make the 
field for the race. They were set to start in the 39th position. 

Burton was obligated to take laps in the car during Happy Hour on Saturday so 
he could start the race on Sunday and pick up any driver points that the team 
earned. NASCAR let Burton take several laps by himself, and then cleared him 
to take several more with the rest of the field on the track. The original 
plan was for him to make one lap on Sunday and then come into the pits and 
let Bodine get in the car, but Jeff felt comfortable enough after practice 
that he decided that he would try to make it to the first caution, which in 
previous races have come out not long after the race began. 

Due to the driver change, Burton fell to the back of the field which put him 
in 43rd spot when the green flag flew on Sunday afternoon. The car was tight, 
but Burton made it to the 31st position before the first caution flag flew on 
lap 68, and he came down pit road to let Bodine take the wheel. Luckily, the 
team was able to quickly make that change and did not lose a lap during the 
exchange. Bodine drove a great race, despite the car alternating between a 
tight and loose condition, and avoided several wrecks that took place in 
front of him. He brought the car home in the 14th spot.

The team remained in fourth place in the Winston Cup points standings, thanks 
in part to an incident that involved fifth place Terry Labonte. They are 332 
points behind leader Jeff Gordon and 123 in front of Labonte. The race next 
weekend is at Dover Downs International Speedway in Dover, DE. Burton will 
undergo extensive testing this week to try to pinpoint the exact nature of 
his inner-ear problem. He and the team are hoping that he will be back in the 
Exide Ford Thunderbird full time next weekend. 

By Roush Racing Public Relations