Fresh off a rare pole-winning qualifying run in the Winston Cup series, Jeff Burton won the Busch Grand National Autolite/FRAM 250 with a dominating performance Friday night.
Burton, who won only his second career pole position in 214 attempts in NASCAR's premier series just before driver introductions for the BGN event, started second and led 198 of the 250 laps.
"It's been an awfully good day," the South Boston, Va., native said after his third Busch series victory this year. "It doesn't get a whole lot better."
The victory was the 13th of Burton's Busch career, matching his Winston Cup total. It came by 0.935 seconds over runaway BGN points leader Jeff Green. Mark Martin, Burton's Roush Racing teammate, was third.
Ron Hornaday and Mark McFarland crashed in the frontstretch on Lap 165, bringing out the final caution and sending the leaders to the pits while several cars stayed out.
The moves gave the race lead to Jimmy Spencer, but Spencer didn't last long on older tires. Burton, ninth on the restart, made short work of the field, retaking the lead with 66 laps to go and never getting pushed.
In the Winston Cup qualifying, Burton ran at an event-record 125.780 mph in his Ford to claim the top spot. The record of 125.465 mph was set by Mike Skinner last year, and also was bettered by points leader Bobby Labonte and No. 3 qualifier Jerry Nadeau.
Labonte, who leads defending points champion Dale Jarrett by 111 points, continued his recent string of good showings at Richmond, a track that had traditionally given him trouble.
"We've run pretty good here most every time the past two or three years, so I feel confident that we've got a race team that can make the right decisions to go into (tonight's) race," he said.
HONDA GRAND PRIX: Penske teammates Helio Castroneves (118.969 mph) and Gil de Ferran (118.792) topped the qualifying record at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, Calif. Bryan Herta set the mark in 1997 at 118.792. Patrick Carpentier hit a tire wall and somersaulted over a concrete barrier, landing cockpit down, but had only a sore neck and was cleared to continue driving. Hal Whiteford, president of racing operations for CART, delayed the session until he had inspected the track and met with the drivers for nearly an hour.