With the New Hampshire primary on the horizon, Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Burton made pit stops in New England on Wednesday, throwing his helmet into the mix as the primary candidate to become the winning ticket for the SYLVANIA 300 – the second race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship – at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sept. 23.
Aboard the Pit Stop Express, Burton, known affectionately as “The Mayor of NASCAR,” visited Faneuil Hall in Boston, Mass., City Hall in Manchester, N.H., and Prescott Park in Portsmouth, N.H. Already with more wins (four) than any other Cup driver in “Magic Mile” history, Burton used a grassroots approach to rally fans in support of his drive for five.
Allen Bestwick, host of NASCAR Now on ESPN, served as Burton’s emcee and rally rouser.
“I love coming to New Hampshire,” said Burton to a large crowd assembled in Sam Adams Park at Faneuil Hall. “We haven’t had a great season, but New Hampshire is definitely a place we feel like we can win every time we unload.”
Burton has eight top fives, 13 top 10s and 783 laps led at NHMS. He also owns the incredible record of leading all 300 laps, a feat he accomplished in the 2000 Dura Lube 300.
“Don’t do that again,” joked NHMS executive vice president and general manager Jerry Gappens, while standing outside City Hall in Manchester. “It’s time to bring Jeff Burton back to victory lane here in New Hampshire. Not in the oval office, but in his office on the oval known as ‘The Magic Mile.’ ”
Also attending the Manchester pit stop was N.H. Governor John Lynch and Manchester Mayor Ted Gatsas.
“You’re in my spot,” quipped Gatsas, noting that Burton’s RV was parked in the Mayor’s parking spot outside City Hall. “It’s really great to have Jeff here representing NASCAR and the city of Manchester is very proud of our ongoing relationship with New Hampshire Motor Speedway. I wish Jeff the best of luck in September.”
It’s a tradition to give the Cup race winner at NHMS a 20-pound lobster in Victory Lane. And while Burton will have to wait until Sept. 23 to try and win “Loudon the Lobster,” he was given a taste of the Chase on Wednesday. David Hickman of Portsmouth Lobster Co., gave Burton a box of lobster ravioli that brought a big smile to the driver’s face.
“I know I’m going to get in trouble for saying this, given I’m from the South,” said Burton, “but New England is the best place to eat. The food up here is just awesome.”
The Pit Stop Express made its final stop at Prescott Park, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean in Portsmouth. Assistant Portsmouth Mayor Bob Lister was on hand to wish Burton luck, while a group of Burton supporters paid their respects to the 19-year Cup veteran.
“I can’t say enough about the support I received today in Boston, Manchester and here in Portsmouth,” said Burton. “We travel to a lot of terrific sites and venues, but this has to be one of our favorites. The fans are very passionate about racing up here and we can feel that passion on the track. I can’t wait to come back next month and try to get back to victory lane.”
To see if Burton can capture that fifth victory at NHMS in the SYLVANIA 300 on Sept. 23, purchase tickets by calling (603) 783-4931 or by visiting www.nhms.com.