The drag racer struggled in qualifying, but in the end he and his team came through with a clutch performance during their final shot. On Friday, tire trouble hit during the evening session. The air was dry and brisk in Virginia and it was tough to get the right settings on the engine. Burkart went into Saturday knowing he and his team needed to turn things around.
“The air was unbelievable, but in a lot of ways that made it harder on the tuners and the drivers,” said Burkart. “The front half of this track was fine, but from half-track on it was loose, and it stayed that way most of the weekend. When the air helps you make this much power, but the track does not cooperate, you head off into turning territory that’s not all that comfortable.”
There was pressure on Saturday, but Burkart drove to a clean 4.983 during the first session. That was not good enough to bump into the top 16, but it gave Co-Crew Chiefs Chris Cunningham and Marc Denner a better shot at delivering the goods on the final shot.
“Getting in the on the final pass is never a good thing,” Burkart said. “It dosen’t mater if you’re absolutely 100 percent sure the tune-up is right, because any one of a thousand freak things can break or trip you up. We knew we had the right combination in the car to get in, but also knowing we had only one shot to do it and nothing could break, or leak or fall off the car. I was nervous.”
Burkart and his crew use K&N Engineering’s Premium Performance Gold Oil Filters. The thick canister walls on the K&N Filters have extra strength and durability which reduce the risk of damage from debris on the race track.
Burkart and crew waited to see who would eventually land in the No.2 spot and fill the other half of his first round match-up. Robert Hight landed at No. 2.
When the crew went to the track early Sunday, Team CSK scraped ice off their vehicle windshields and faced temperatures in the 30s and planned for a rematch with Hight.
“I expected to run against somebody huge, because that’s what happens when you’re 15th,” said Burkart. “Those guys are in the hunt for the championship, so you know they weren’t planning on letting us take them out again, but I still felt like we had enough in it to shock them.”
After the tree flashed amber, Burkart left first. His standard superb light (this time .058) was nearly twice as quick as Hight’s reaction. Hight pulled away soon after both cars passed the 60-foot timer, and when Burkart’s car faded toward the centerline, Hight tore away for the finish line.
Toward the 330 mark, tire smoke and a blower explosion hit almost simultaneously. “I hit the pedal and it jacked the blower right off the motor,” said Burkart. “That was it. We lost and we broke a lot of stuff.”
Burkart added another 31 points to his 2006 total in Richmond.
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