Jeff Burton had the fifth fastest car in yesterday's rain-delayed qualifying for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 Sprint Cup Series race scheduled to run tomorrow at Michigan International Speedway. In 21 Cup races at MIS, Burton has been in the top 10 eight times.
“Michigan International Speedway is a track that we kind of struggled on the last few years and where we haven't performed the way we've wanted to. This is a big challenge for us to try to run well and be competitive here, and this has been, for whatever reason, one of our weaker tracks, which is surprising to me. So, we're looking to come in and step that up and run the way we've been running everywhere else, and I feel like we can.
“Although yesterday's practice results somewhat met our expectations, I know we'll be OK come race time. Practice sessions give the teams time to try different setups so they can put the right combination together for the race.
“My crew chief, Todd Berrier, orchestrated different set-ups in order for us to qualify up front, which is key at a place like Michigan. Track position is everything.
“I've been lucky enough to sit on the pole twice at Michigan — August, 1996, and August, 2006, — but, I'll be the first to tell you that I'm not a great qualifier. We drew the second spot in the qualifying order and, normally, a late draw is what you hope to get. But, in yesterday's case, cloudy skies early on in the time trials session helped the No. 31 Caterpillar produce a fast lap.
“Today, we'll have two more practice sessions to fine-tune our Caterpillar Chevrolet. We'll use every minute of the time NASCAR gives us because the more you run, the more you learn, and what you learn translates over to race time.
“Finishing strong in every race right now is really important with the Chase being right around the corner. Even though we are eighth in the points, running strong and having solid finishes are what the Cat Racing team is after. We're in better shape than those in 15th and beyond, but we're not in a position where we can relax by any means. We feel like we have under-achieved by being in eighth.
"Last year, I felt like we were over-achieving, and we were eighth. It is a big difference in the mind-set of where we are as a team and how fast our cars can go and what I think we can do. But, as easy as you got to third, fourth, or seventh, you can easily go to 16th, as well. This sport is real competitive. That's what I love about it.”