NASCAR

Daytona 500 Winner Ward Burton Returns To Victory Lane

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.

's fortunes couldn't have been any better when celebrating his victory in the 44th annual Daytona 500 in February. But since his victory in the "Great American Race," Burton's fortunes couldn't have been any worse. Entering last Sunday's race at Loudon, N.H., Burton dropped to 26th in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship standings and had finished 30th or worse in seven of the last eight races. But Burton, driver of the No. 22 Caterpillar Dodge for Bill Davis Racing, finally bounced back on Sunday by posting his fifth career NASCAR Winston Cup Series victory in the New England 300. "We came out of the box and won the biggest race of the year," Burton said. "Since then we've had some struggling times and our points kind of reflect that. To be able to leave here and win a Winston Cup race and win two in one season, what more could you ask for?" Burton, a native of South Boston, Va., hopes that he and crew chief Tommy Baldwin can continue to fix some of the problems that have hindered the team this year and deliver a strong finish to the 2002 season. A good finish to this season could lead to a strong start in the 2003 season with the 45th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 16. Burton will be shooting for his second straight Daytona 500 victory and will try to join Richard Petty (1973-74), Cale Yarborough (1983-84) and (1994-95) as the only drivers who have won back-to-back Daytona 500s. Everything will be in position for a repeat Daytona 500 victory at Bill Davis Racing. Burton, who finished ninth in the July 6 Pepsi 400, and sponsor Caterpillar recently signed contract extensions at Bill Davis Racing. "We've had some real unusual failures, drive shaft, transmission wise," team owner Bill Davis said. "We've had some real good race cars. We've had some races we could have won. We've got a real good race team that's had a really bad year." Tickets for the 2003 Daytona 500 and other Speedweeks 2003 events are available online at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling the Speedway ticket office at (386) 253-7223.

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