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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Jeff Burton sticking around; implications for Austin Dillon

Despite his rough 2011 so far, Jeff Burton isn’t going anywhere. He recently signed a multi-year extension with Richard Childress Racing, which leads me to think that alternate plans will needed for young Austin Dillon. I always pictured him taking over the 31 car from Burton in the near future and driving for his grandfather.
With Kevin Harvick, Burton, Clint Bowyer and Paul Menard likely to stay put for a while, Childress may have to farm out his grandson to a smaller team whenever he does make the move to Cup. Or who knows, maybe Bowyer or Menard will be gone in a couple years – that’s his only shot, as I don’t see Harvick or Burton giving up their rides anytime soon.
Whatever happens, I’m pretty sure Childress has a plan for the up-and-coming young superstar in his family.

FR9 gets another win
The year continues to be bright for Ford’s FR9 engine, which earned another victory this past weekend at Nashville when Carl Edwards won the Nationwide race.

The victory at Nashville was Edwards' second of the season and 31st of his career in the series. This ties him for fourth all time with the legendary Jack Ingram. Roush Fenway's Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne also finished in the top 10 with the Roush Yates FR9 engines.

"I have to give credit to [car owner] Jack Roush, to Ford, [engine builder] Doug Yates, [crew chief] Mike Beam, the guys at the shop. It looked like we were facing some insurmountable challenges, and they worked hard and got these cars better," Edwards said.

Edwards led five times for 148 laps and held off (second place) Kyle Busch to the checkered flag by .521 seconds. Edwards drove past Busch with 35 laps to go after a heated battle.

"Carl really put on a show," said Roush Yates CEO Doug Yates. "It was just awesome to see him take command and hold off Kyle at the end. The (FR9) ran strong all race. We are so pleased with the way the Roush Fenway programs have come together this year," he added. "Jack really appears to be giving all his Cup and Nationwide teams opportunities to win on any given race day. As the engine builder Roush Yates is proud to be a part of (RFR's) overall performance equation."

Bowyer on the rise
After a tough start, Clint Bowyer has skyrocketed from 24th to 10th in points, and has scored more points in the past four races than any other driver.
He said his rise in the points is a weight off his shoulders, and hopes to keep it up.

“A month ago I was worried, very much so,” he said this week. “But at the end of the day the reality was it's still way early in the season, still is even today. But with the new points system and everything that's happening around that, you really don't know where you're at. You think you do, but things will shake out. I think the cream is going to rise to the top, no different than it ever has. It's still early in the season, but it feels good to be able to get on a little bit of a roll here, and hopefully we can continue to ride that wave. “

Richmond Stats
-- Originally known as the Atlantic Rural Exposition Fairgrounds, Richmond International Raceway held its first race in 1946 as a half-mile dirt track.
-- The first NASCAR Sprint Cup race was April 19, 1953.
-- The spring 1964 race was run on a Tuesday night under temporary lighting
-- The track name changed to Virginia State Fairgrounds in 1967.
-- The track surface was changed from dirt to asphalt between races in 1968.
-- The track name changed to Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway in 1969.
-- The first race under permanent lights was Sept. 7, 1991.
-- The first season with both races as night races was 1999.
-- There have been 48 different pole winners, led by Bobby Allison and Richard Petty (eight).
-- Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Terry Labonte (three) lead active race winners.
-- Car owner Richard Petty has won 15 races at Richmond, more than any other team.
-- The furthest back in the field a race winner has started was 31st, by Clint Bowyer in 2008’s spring race.
-- Kyle Petty became the first third-generation NASCAR race winner when he won his first race, at Richmond, on Feb. 23, 1986. Richard Petty posted his first Richmond victory in 1961 and Lee won the very first Richmond race in 1953.
-- Five of the last six races have had a margin of victory less than one second.

Stats: Dodge at Richmond
-- Dodge has 17 Sprint Cup wins at Richmond including three since the manufacturer returned to NASCAR’s premier series in 2001.
-- Lee Petty drove a Dodge to victory in the first NASCAR race at Richmond in1953, a 200-lap event on what was then a .5-mile dirt track.
-- Dodge winners in addition to Petty include Buck Baker, David Pearson, Cotton Owens, Bobby Allison, Richard Petty, Dave Marcis, Neil Bonnett, Ryan Newman, Jeremy Mayfield and Kasey Kahne.
-- Kurt Busch won the fall event in 2005 prior to joining the Penske Racing and the Dodge family. He was runner-up at the fall event in 2009.

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