NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series star Jeff Burton hopes his luck on the pavement of Daytona International Speedway will be a little better than it was on the basketball court Monday afternoon at the RDV Sportsplex just outside of Orlando.
The 2000 Pepsi 400 champion and Duke basketball fan faced off against former Duke basketball guard and current Orlando Magic star J.J. Redick in a game of "D-A-Y-T-O-N-A" as part of the Pepsi 400 Media Day.
With retired Orlando Magic star Nick Anderson giving the play-by-play and Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig serving as the referee, Redick had his way with Burton.
"I'm a guest here and my mother taught me to be courteous to guests," Burton quipped. “My basketball skills aren't honed, to say the least, but it was fun. I watched a tremendous amount of Duke ball games that J.J. has played in and watched with great interest his pro career. I’m really looking forward to the day that he can play on a consistent basis.
“I've watched a bunch of college basketball and the tenacity that he has is really hot. Every night, he had to fight to get shots, and every night he found a way to get them. It was constant, it was a big deal - they just tried to shut him down every night - he had to work his (butt) off to get shots – I have a lot of respect for his willingness to go do whatever it takes. It’s pretty cool to get a chance to meet him.”
“After the first three or four shots, I realize I could make it short and sweet but I wanted to make him feel good,” Redick joked. “I always let somebody get a couple of letters on me.”
After shooting basketball with Redick, Burton previewed the upcoming Pepsi 400 with the local media.
“Honestly, winning at Daytona is a really cool thing,” Burton said. “Ward has won the 500 and I have won the 400 and being able to say that we have both won races at Daytona is a really cool deal. To me, Daytona, Darlington, Charlotte and Indy are the four big races. The 600, the 500, the 400 – any race at Daytona. Those are such big races and certainly something we circle.”
Burton needs to win another Pepsi 400 trophy. Earlier this year, his 2000 Pepsi 400 trophy was accidentally damage when he and his wife Kim were re-arranging items in his trophy room.
“We remodeled our trophy room,” Burton said. “We had a glass shelf installed and the pegs that held the glass shelf weren’t long enough. I set the Southern 500 trophy on top of that shelf and the pegs didn’t support it. And the Southern 500 trophy fell on top of the 400 trophy. The 400 trophy is crystal and lit up and it just destroyed both of them.
“A few months later, my wife was carrying a Dover trophy to go put it where she wanted to put it, which of course wasn’t where I wanted to put it, but that is a whole another conversation. She tripped and fell and broke it, and broke her ribs, and did a lot of damage – not only to the trophy but to her as well. It was a lot of damage in a short period of time.”
Tony Stewart will be hunting for a record third consecutive Pepsi 400 victory in this year’s 160-lap, 400-mile event. The
driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet will attempt to tie David Pearson’s record of three straight Pepsi 400 wins (1972-74).
Also scheduled for the Pepsi 400 Weekend will be the sixth annual Winn-Dixie 250 presented by PepsiCo and Circle K Pole Qualifying Day for the Pepsi 400 on Friday, July 6 and the Brumos Porsche 250 Rolex Series race on Thursday night, July 5.
Tickets for Daytona International Speedway events are available online at www.racetickets.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
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