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NASCAR: Jeff Burton finishes season-best third at New Hampshire

Sunday, Jul. 14, 2013

Say what you want, but Jeff Burton isn’t willing to give up a chance at winning a championship this season.

Sunday, he showed why.

Burton and his No. 31 Richard Childress Racing team completed their best weekend of the season, finishing a season’s best third after starting a season’s best ninth and having one of the fastest cars in all three practices.

Burton even got a look at a possible win in the final laps of Sunday’s Camping World 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, as race winner Brian Vickers, Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch went three-wide for the lead in front of him.

While Vickers cleared his competitors away, Burton earned a satisfying finish.

“We have been running a lot better the last two months,” Burton said. “Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we are the class of the field, but we are definitely making progress and we feel like we are starting to build on something.”

Burton is now 17th in points and in position to make the Chase on a wild card should he be able to claim a win or two over the next seven races.

That’s not implausible, he said.

“We don’t think we are out of the Chase. I know everybody else in the world does, but we don’t. We feel like we can still do it,” Burton said. “There’s a lot of stuff that’s going to happen between now and Richmond. It’s so competitive, so tight.

“Today was a good example: Everybody is racing each other that’s racing for those (Chase) spots, and if we can knock off some – get on one of those streaks that I used to get on, we can make it and we intend to.

“I know it’s a long shot, but I think we can.”

Even making the top 10 in points – which guarantees a Chase berth – is not out of the question for Burton. He is 25 points out of 10th.

“We are so new to each other, and we got off to a start of the year where we were not running as well as we need to, and, if there was a wreck on the race track, I was in it,” Burton said.

“I couldn’t miss a wreck to save my life. And all that stuff drove us back in the points.”

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter
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