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Burton stands chance to win
By ASSOCIATED PRESS
Published August 10, 2006
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - If Richard Childress can put two cars in the Chase for the championship, he's convinced one will win the Nextel Cup title.
Either one of them.
Kevin Harvick no longer is the one-man show at RCR, a team on a comeback after several sluggish seasons. With it has come the emergence of rookie Clint Bowyer and the resurgence of veteran Jeff Burton.
"If we get in the Chase, we will win a championship," Childress said. "Jeff or Kevin can do it. If they're in, they'll be serious championship contenders."
It's been a long time since anyone called Burton a contender. But now that he's enjoying his best season in years, Burton finally might win the title he was predicted to get so many years ago.
He was a star back in 2000, when he won four races and finished third in the final standings behind champion Bobby Labonte and Dale Earnhardt. Burton opened the next season as a championship favorite, but instead of taking the next step forward in his career, he went backward.
The 2001 season was overshadowed by Earnhardt's death, and Burton was one of the leading voices for improved safety measures.
Although he scored two wins and finished 10th in the standings, many believed he was consumed by his safety agendas and suffered on the track for it.
The next three years were a steady decline for Burton, who seemed to be in neutral while his Roush Racing teammates were reeling off wins and championships. Frustrated and unable to turn it around, Burton got out of the No. 99 Ford late in the 2004 season.
It didn't help that Carl Edwards climbed in and took off, winning four times and finishing third in his first full season in the No. 99, while Burton was stuck in RCR's slow rebuild.
But now that Childress finally has things back on track, so does Burton.
"I didn't go join Richard Childress Racing because I was trying to wrap up my career; I went to Richard Childress Racing because I was trying to restart my career," Burton said.
He has done so with a vengeance. Burton is third in the standings, needing nothing short of a total collapse to keep him out of the Chase. He sat on the pole Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, giving him three poles this year after winning two in the previous 12 seasons.
And although he has yet to score a Nextel Cup win this season - his last victory was in 2001 - Burton has won twice in the Busch Series this year to prove he still knows the way.
Burton finds himself with his first real chance to win a title in six years. Although he's 375 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson, the field will be reset in five weeks and Burton will begin the Chase with a clean slate.
ARREST: Racing veterans Al Unser Sr. and Bobby Unser were arrested after sheriff's deputies said the brothers ignored orders to leave an area where authorities had cornered a carjacking suspect in Albuquerque, N.M.
The Bernalillo County sheriff's department said the suspect led police on a chase while shooting at them. The man crashed into a car on the city's west side and later shot himself.
Authorities had cordoned off a road named after the Unser family.
Deputies said Al Unser Sr. started to go through the roadblock to get home when deputies warned him to stop. Bobby Unser, in a separate vehicle, also refused to leave.
Both were arrested for resisting arrest and obstructing officers. They were booked into the Metropolitan Detention Center and later released.