Burton posts top-20 in season debut

HUNTERSVILLE – Jeff Burton’s foray into semi-retirement didn’t cost him any of his racing skill.

Burton, a Huntersville resident with 21 career wins, drove his No. 66 Michael Waltrip Racing-owned Toyota to a 17th-place finish in the Kobalt 400 March 9 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Burton, who is transitioning from a full-time racing career to a job as a broadcaster with NBC Sports, will make an undetermined number of starts this season for MWR.

He told NBC Sports that he plans to make the 2014 Sprint Cup season his last as a driver.

Burton left Richard Childress Racing in late 2013 after a 10-year tenure with the race team. Ryan Newman replaced Burton in the No. 31 Chevy.


NASCAR changes qualifying rules

CHARLOTTE – The new knockout qualifying used in NASCAR’s three major national series has been a hit with drivers.

It’ll be even more popular now that the sport is allowing teams to use cool-down units during qualifying to help keep the cars’ engine temperatures low.

Sprint Cup drivers, including Brian Vickers – a driver for Cornelius-based Michael Waltrip Racing – had complained of drivers slowing to a crawl after a fast lap, so the car’s engine would cool down enough to give it more speed for another lap.

The qualifying format, similar to Formula One qualifying, debuted in February at Daytona International Speedway.

With the rule change, NASCAR made the following allowances: One cool down unit connected through either the left side or right side hood flap/cowl flap is allowed to cool the engine, the hood must continue to remain closed, plugging in the generator will not be allowed, two crew members will be allowed over the wall to support the car and driver, and no cool-down laps will be permitted.

The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects," NASCAR Vice President of Competition and Racing Development Robin Pemberton said in a release.

“Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend.

“We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward, we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds."


Kenseth puts house on market

MOORESVILLE – Matt Kenseth's 7,259-square-foot, European-style mansion in Mooresville is now on the market for $2.79 million.

Kenseth, the 2003 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and a driver for Huntersville-based Joe Gibbs Racing, listed the property with Dorin Nash of Ivester Jackson Distinctive Properties, according to Realtor.com. 

The two-story mansion sits on a 0.75-acre lot. It includes five bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, a large kitchen, two master suites and an exercise room. It also has a swimming pool, spa, wood-burning fireplace, private pier, one-car garage and three-car garage.

The house was built in 2006.