NASCAR

RACING ONE: Ward Burton's luck finally changes

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LOUDON, N.H.

The season has been anything but a success for since he won the Daytona 500. The struggles have been mighty for Burton and his Bill Davis Racing team, as Burton hasn¿t won or even finished in the Top 5 since that triumphant victory. But Sunday at New Hampshire International Speedway, Burton proved it was no fluke. Burton stormed past with nine laps to go and won the New England 300 for his second victory of the season. ¿I knew if we stayed out of trouble we could have a decent run,¿ said Burton, whose best finish at NHIS was ninth in 1999. ¿Obviously, I didn¿t expect this. But the CAT team kept working on the chassis, and the car got better the longer we ran. We weren¿t good on the start, but on older tires we were good.¿ Burton hadn¿t been very good since Daytona, and lately he¿s been downright terrible. In the last eight races, Burton had finished 30th or worse seven times, including finishes of 42nd twice, 41st and 40th. ¿We ran all day, we didn¿t break ¿ that¿s what has been killing us this year,¿ Burton said. ¿This gives us some great momentum to head to the next couple of races.¿ Kenseth had a flat tire after dominating the second half of the race. That moved up to second, with third, fourth and fifth. finished sixth, followed by , , and . ¿I don¿t know what happened to ,¿ Burton said. ¿He was obviously a little bit better than I was right there at the end. But you¿ve got to be in position to win ¿em, and we were in position.¿ Jarrett got the lead after pit stops on Lap 233 under the race¿s 12th caution. Jarrett took on fuel only and restarted ahead of and Sadler on Lap 239. But brought out the caution on Lap 242, and Johnson headed to pit road for tires. The race went green with 53 laps to go, and after the leaders cleared lapped traffic, Sadler, third-place Green and fourth-place Burton closed in. With 41 laps to go, Sadler got past Jarrett to take the top spot, but 10 laps later, Jarrett retook the lead. Two laps after that, crashed in Turn 1 to bring out the 13th caution of the race. None of the leaders pitted, but it bunched up the field for a 22-lap dash to the checkered flag. The front four pulled away, but Jarrett couldn¿t break free. Kenseth got third place from Burton with 19 laps to go and looked inside Sadler for second. Kenseth got second place a lap later, bringing Burton with him as Sadler dropped to fourth. On Lap 283, Jarrett¿s Ford felt the pressure from Kenseth as the two raced side-by-side for the lead. Kenseth had the inside line and powered by Jarrett with 16 laps remaining, with Burton again following Kenseth. . and Bodine got together off Turn 4 with 14 laps remaining, bringing out another caution. Kenseth moved ahead on the restart on Lap 289, but two laps later slipped out of the groove as Burton grabbed the lead. Kenseth continued to lose spots and eventually headed to pit road with a flat tire. He ended up 33rd. Once in the lead, Burton easily cruised to the victory, giving New Englander Tommy Baldwin, Burton¿s crew chief, a chance to celebrate. ¿This is great to win two races in one year, and particularly to win at Tommy Baldwin¿s hometown track and a place we¿ve really struggled,¿ Burton said. ¿Awesome race car today.¿ The second-place finish for Green was the best in his Winston Cup career. ¿It was a great day for the America Online Chevy,¿ Green said. ¿Track position was everything, like always. (Crew chief) Todd (Berrier) and all the guys did a good job planning that. I had a good enough car to win the race, but Ward got away from us a little bit. Those restarts are a little hairy with the cold, worn-out tires.¿ Kenseth and Earnhardt Jr. led a combined 113 laps but lost track position with a pit stop under caution on Lap 233. Kenseth restarted 15th and Junior 16th as the two scrambled to make up spots. Wallace led the first 59 laps but had to make an unscheduled pit stop for a cut tire. With passing difficult on the flat oval, Wallace¿s attempts at getting back up front went slowly. Front-row starters and ran up front early in the race but neither was there by the time the checkered flag fell. Elliott had carburetor trouble and lost several laps making repairs, while Skinner had mechanical problems. The next Winston Cup race is the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway on July 28.

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