"Cardiac Kids" vault into field on "last chance" pass
Richmond, Saturday: Out of the dust, into the sunset, on the roaring wheels of his Havoline Chevy, Phil Burkart posted a clutch 4.882 on his final qualifying pass, earning himself an important spot in the field after having entered the session from the No. 17 spot, which is, of course, under the cut line. Burkart had not earned a provisional spot on his first Saturday pass, but his 4.983 had given his team a baseline to tune from. He will race from the 15th spot on Sunday, and will face Robert Hight in round one. The pairing will be a rematch of the last run both drivers made, in the final round at Reading.
"It went down there on the first pass, but there were some issues with the tune-up and it really never had a chance to run well enough to get in," Burkart said. "The good news out of that, though, was that my guys could see exactly what it needed, what went wrong, and how to fix it. Our confidence level that the car would run well enough to get in, if it made a full lap and nothing goofy happened, was very high. Our overall confidence level, thinking in terms of 'what might go wrong probably will go wrong' was about like it always is before a last-ditch effort. You know the tune-up is solid, but you start worrying about blower belts, oil leaks, burst panels, ignition systems, clutch discs, and anything else that can mess up on any given lap.
"Fortunately for us, everything worked like it's supposed to, nothing fell off the car or broke, and it plowed right down to the finish line, with a run that was good enough to move us from outside the field into the 15th spot. Do I like being 15th and running Robert in round one? No. Is it better than being 17th and watching as spectators tomorrow? Absolutely, and by a long way. We get to play, so that's all good. Now we'll just do our best and see how it all shakes out."
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