Team: Bill Davis Racing
Car/sponsor/make: No. 22 Caterpiller Dodge
The good: While 2001 was a slightly off-year for the older of the two Burton brothers on the Winston Cup circuit, the elder Burton usually showcased his best driving ability at some of the biggest races of the season. With the
exception of finishing 35th in the season-opening Daytona 500, he had top-10
finishes in key races at Bristol (5th, spring race), Charlotte (6th in The
Winston, 9th in the Coca-Cola 500 and 3rd in the UAW-GM Quality 500), Sears
Point (6th), Daytona (4th in the Pepsi 400), Indianapolis (6th), Darlington
(1st, summer race), Martinsville (3rd, fall race), Rockingham (6th, fall
race) and Atlanta (5th, fall race).
Season highlight: Without question, Burton's victory at the Mountain Dew
Southern 500 at Darlington, S.C., in late summer was his top achievement in
2001, going from a dismal start (37th) to winning only the third Winston Cup
race of his career.
The bad: After two consecutive top-10 seasons in 1999 and 2000, Burton took a slight step backward in 2001, finishing 14th. Part of that can be attributed
to Burton and the rest of his team switching to and getting used to the new
Dodge Intrepid in the 2001 campaign. If anything, this past season was a
learning experience for the No. 22 team, which will hopefully serve them well
and lead to a much higher finish in the standings in 2002.
Season lowlight: Burton was on target to an outstanding finish at the end
of the 2001 season, with three top-5, one top-10 and two top-13 finishes in six of
the previous seven races heading into the postponed and rescheduled final race of the campaign in New Hampshire. Unfortunately, it was at Loudon that Burton
closed the season with a miserable 42nd-place finish, tying for his worst
performance of the year (he also was 42nd earlier in the year at California).
Key stat: In seasons where Burton has won a race (1995, 2000 and 2001), he's never finished second in any other race
that same campaign. Conversely, in seasons where he's had at least one
second-place finish (one each in 1994 and 1998 and three runner-up finishes
in 1999), he has yet to win a race.
What needs to be done: With a season of learning the nuances of the new Dodge Intrepid under his and the team's collective belts, Burton should bounce back in 2002. The team is set to embark upon some heavy-duty testing in the off-season, which can only help improve the team's fortunes next season.
Prediction: Look for Burton to finish around 10th-place in 2002, much like he finished ninth in 1999 and 10th in 2000.