Burton won’t give up Chase for Harvick

DEAN MCNULTY , QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:52 PM ET

FORT WORTH, Tex. -- For most of the 12 drivers in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup championship there is no fine line when it comes to doing whatever it takes to help a teammate win -- especially if that teammate is one of the three drivers left with a hope of winning the big trophy at Homestead Miami Speedway in two weeks time.

In fact almost to a man, they know that under those circumstances their team owner is most likely to be on the radio yelling 'let (teammate's name here) pass.'"

It is not so simple, however, for Jeff Burton, driver of the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, who happens to be a teammate to Kevin Harvick, currently in the No. 3 spot on the Chase, just 38 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.

Burton, who is one of the most respected voices in the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage, said on Friday that he has a real crisis of conscience when it comes to deliberately slowing down to let a teammate win, even if it meant Harvick would win the championship by doing so.

"I think if you start letting people win, I think that's the extreme integrity issue," he said. "I think that for years people have let people lead laps and those kinds of things and those things will happen.

"I hope we don't get to the point where people let people win races. I really hope we don't get there. I have a major problem with that."

Burton was asked if the roles were reversed, would he feel the same way. And in no uncertain terms, he answered that he would.

"Let me tell you something, if I was second in points and I had a teammate (let me win) so I (could win) the championship, honestly I wouldn't want to win the championship in that regard.

"No matter what you think, you're always going to know that you probably shouldn't have won the championship. I just think there's a huge, huge integrity issue with that kind of thing."

Burton looks at what is happening in the Formula One world championship where teammates regularly and with impunity slow down to let teammates pass and feels it is just plain cheating the fans.

And he showed just that kind of mentality two weeks ago at Martinsville Speedway where he and Harvick locked horns on more than one occasion.

"Kevin and I at Martinsville is a great example and I don't want to bring up a bad subject, but since then Kevin and I had a great chance to talk and Kevin in no way expected me to not race him for the win," he said. "He wasn't looking for me to let him go. He wasn't looking for me to not race him for the win.

"He wasn't looking for any of those things. I think there's a fine line -- I think that you will cut them a little bit of slack to make sure you don't cause them an incident. I think that you will see that, but I don't think you're going to see a lot of pulling over late in the race and giving a guy a spot because again, I just think there's an integrity issue."

Burton said that it is even more important this year to maintain the integrity of the sport with such a tight race between four-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Harvick.

Johnson was the fastest of the three top Chasers in qualifying with a lap of 191.939 m.p.h., good enough for 17th. Hamlin will start further back at 29th at 190.968 m.p.h. and Harvick 26th at 191.557 m.p.h.

Elliott Sadler will start on the pole on a lap of 195.397 m.p.h.

Canada's Patrick Carpentier will start 37th after his lap of 189.255 m.p.h. in the No. 26 Air Guard Ford.


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