Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rookie Track Gives Burton First Victory Crashes and Slow Pace Mar Texas Speedway's Opening

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Rookie Track Gives Burton First Victory Crashes and Slow Pace Mar Texas Speedway's Opening

Article excerpt

After a Sunday of screeching tires, blown engines and sliding and spinning cars that crunched up like plastic toys, Texas Motor Speedway delivered a surprise finish to some 200,000 patrons who had endured mammoth traffic jams to make it to the Interstate Batteries 500.

It was a race that lasted 4 hours 17 seconds - about the average time it took to drive from Dallas or Fort Worth to the new track, a trip of about 20 miles.

It was a race that drew 10 caution flags for a total of 73 laps (out of 334) and had a pace of only 125.105 mph. It was a race that included a celebrity-fest. Tom Landry and Joe Gibbs were the grand marshals. Dennis Rodman was seen walking into Richard Petty's motor home on the infield. Ross Perot was telling the crowd, "A hundred years ago cattle was driven through this land," and Sen. Phil Gramm was saying, "It never ceases to amaze me what you can put in a Texas prairie for $110 million." Just when it appeared as if the inaugural weekend at the second largest sports facility in the United States would be remembered for traffic jams on the highways leading to the track and for accidents on it, Texas delivered a new Lone Star. His name is Jeff Burton, a Virginian. Driving the Exide Batteries Ford for Jack Roush Racing, Burton managed to avoid the slam-bang crashes throughout the race and came home a winner for the first time in his Winston Cup career. While his teammates, Mark Martin and Ted Musgrave, dropped out because of engine failure, Burton kept his horses running. "Jeff was ready to win," Roush said. "The team was on a high here and I think we perked at just the right time." Crew chief Bubby Parrott said he would name the winning car "Texas." Burton won in his 96th start in Cup racing. "I know what they're going through," said Bobby Labonte, who finished third. "It's exciting to win that first race. Everybody needs to win one." It certainly was exciting at the finish. Burton, 30, was almost holding his breath over the final laps. "At that point, all we could do was mess up," he said. His wife, Kim, was crying the last 10 laps. "It's a little overwhelming for me," Burton said. …

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