Burton wraps up owner title for RCR with win in Busch Series finale
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Jeff Burton wrapped up the Busch Series car owner's championship in style Saturday night, winning the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway to give Richard Childress his 11th NASCAR title.
Burton, who shared the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet with Scott Wimmer this season, took control late in the race after a series of green flag pit stops and pulled away to the win while runner-up Mark Martin and series points champion Carl Edwards battled behind him.
As Burton crossed the finish line half a straightaway ahead of Martin on the 1.5-mile oval, Childress came on the radio and said, "That's the way to win a championship. Scott Wimmer, Jeff Burton, you guys, you're champions."
It was the fourth Busch title for Childress, whose team has also won six championships in NASCAR's top stock car series and one in the Craftsman Truck Series.
Edwards, who wrapped up the driver's title two weeks ago in Texas, lost third place to Matt Kenseth at the end, finishing just ahead of Stephen Leicht. Greg Biffle, who goes into Sunday's Nextel Cup finale having won the last three Cup races here, finished sixth.
Things had to fall just the right way for longtime Cup star Burton to win his fifth Busch race of the season and the 27th of his career.
Burton, along with several other leaders, had to pit for gas and tires in the final 40 laps and fell all the way to ninth. But a caution flag on Lap 175 of the 200-lap race sent the new leaders to the pits and put Burton back on top to stay.
Martin restarted second when the green flag waved again on Lap 177 and tried hard to catch his former teammate, but Burton grabbed the fast top groove on the banked oval and held off the challenge, eventually pulling away as Martin had to fight off Edwards.
"I was trying to figure out some way to get in front of him," said Martin, the career Busch Series victory leader. "I got up alongside Jeff a couple of times, but it was going to take clearing him and he had the outside, which made it tougher."
"It's been a great year for me," said Wimmer, who drove in 16 of the 35 Busch races this season but watched from the pits Saturday night. "I learned a ton from Jeff Burton.
"I was nervous for some reason, sitting up on the pit box with [crew chief] Pat [Smith]. We just really worked hard at this and we had a good result last week in Phoenix and came in here with a pretty good point lead. It's a good feeling and, hopefully, they're going to up my races next season."
It was the last race as the Busch Series, with Anheiser-Busch pulling out as sponsor of the development series after a 26-year stay. Nationwide Insurance is stepping in as the title sponsor of the series next season.
Edwards wound up beating runner-up David Reutimann, who finished 15th Saturday night, by 618 points for the driver's title, while the Childress tandem took the owner title by 255 points over the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing entry of Denny Hamlin, who was 13th at Homestead.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press