Jeff Burton has had what he calls a "miserable" season. But on Saturday night, he was anything but miserable – thanks to a runner-up finish in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
"We've had a miserable year, and to get out of Daytona with a second-place finish, we ought to be happy," Burton said. "... Hopefully it's something that'll kick start our year a little bit. It's been a difficult year, and hopefully we can build on this."
RESULTS: Check out the full finishing order from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series summer race at Daytona.
Avoiding the chaos which typically unfolds at Daytona goes a long way to ensuring a driver leaves with a respectable finish. And on a night when 33 of the 43 starters were involved in one of the six accidents which marred the race, Burton was one of the few drivers who kept his nose clean and his car intact.
And for that, he was rewarded for his efforts.
But as has been the case throughout 2012, it wouldn't be a race if Burton didn't have one thing or another going against him. Saturday night, it was an engine that continually overheated – a constant thorn in the side in plate races this year for the entire Richard Childress Racing organization.
"We had the trouble at Talladega as well," Burton said. "We were just too hot. We can't run a whole race racing the way we really want to race. It's not one thing wrong, it's just I think we have a package issue that's just not working with this combination. We had the tandem thing figured out really well, but we're just a little behind on this, it seems like."
For a driver and team that needed a good finish of any kind, a second-place result is more than welcome. However, success at Daytona doesn't necessarily equate to success elsewhere. And Burton quickly shot down the notion after the race that this finish will create some much-needed momentum for the 31 team.
"Our success or failure tonight doesn't dictate our success or failure next week," Burton said. "It feels good tonight, it'll feel good tomorrow, and then Monday it'll be back to work.
"It's always good to have finishes, but we need to put a string of finishes together. ... That's my largest concern."