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JEFF BURTON - 2014 Michigan II Race Report
Event: Pure Michigan 400 (Round 23 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn (2-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 27th/37th (Running, completed 176 of 200 laps)
No. 14 Owner Point Standing: 23rd (551 points, 265 out of first)
Winner: Jeff Gordon of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
The opportunity to spin the tires incessantly as part of a celebratory burnout for winning a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is the goal of any driver, and veteran wheelman Jeff Burton had that very goal at the start of the Pure Michigan 400 Sunday at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
Unfortunately for Burton, who served as the interim driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS as he subbed for regular driver Tony Stewart, a broken tailpipe provided the wrong kind of burnout, as he was out of the 200-lap race before it even hit the halfway mark.
Around lap 65 while running among the top-20, Burton radioed that the cockpit of his No. 14 machine was filling with smoke. “Smells electrical,” he said.
By lap 75 the smoke was too much. Burton came to pit road, where the crew did a cursory review of the car while performing a scheduled, four-tire stop. They smelled the same foul odor that Burton did, and a lap later, crew chief Chad Johnston brought Burton back to pit road.
Further investigation revealed the problem was too involved to fix on pit lane. The call to take the Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevy to the garage was made. There the culprit was determined: a broken tailpipe. The heat was escaping through a crack in the tailpipe, which had caught the heat shields underneath the car on fire.
The tailpipe was replaced and Burton returned to the racetrack, albeit 24 laps down in 37th position. For the rest of the race around the 2-mile oval, it was a matter of bringing the racecar home and using the remaining laps as a test session.
“I started smelling something and then just before we pitted I got a lot of smoke in the cockpit,” Burton said. “When we pitted, they could see all the smoke all over the place. Something just burned up.”
It was a tough end to what had been a tough week.
“This was a hard week,” Burton said. “This was honestly one of the hardest weeks I’ve ever spent. Coming here on Friday and not knowing what to expect – I thought everybody did a really good job. We put a great effort out there. I did a terrible job on the restarts, but once we got in clean traffic we were maybe a tenth off the leader. We had really good pace and the car drove well. I was really encouraged by the one change we made. The car was fast.”
Also having fast cars were Burton’s Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammates.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for SHR, started sixth, ran in the top-five all day and finished second. It was Harvick’s fifth runner-up finish this season. It was also his seventh top-five of the year and his seventh top-five in 28 career Sprint Cup starts at Michigan.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 16th and was attempting to take the lead of the race for a third time when on lap 179 he side-swiped the turn one wall. The damage was extensive, but Busch was still able to finish the race in 31st position.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 14th and battled back from a multicar crash on lap 25 to finish 18th. It was Patrick’s 69th career Sprint Cup start and her fourth at Michigan.
Jeff Gordon won the Pure Michigan 400 to score his 91st career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his third at Michigan.
Harvick finished 1.412 seconds behind Gordon, while Joey Logano, Paul Menard and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top-five. Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were eight caution periods for 37 laps, with four drivers failing to finish.
With round 23 of 36 complete, Harvick leads SHR in the championship point standings. He is sixth with 687 points, 129 behind first-place Gordon. Busch is 23rd with 543 points, 273 out of first. Stewart is 25th with 537 points, 279 out of first. Patrick is 28th with 445 points, 371 out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Irwin Tools Night Race on Saturday, Aug. 23 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ABC beginning with its prerace show at 7 p.m.