NASCAR Race Weekend Central

2007 Driver Review: Ward Burton

Ward Burton
2007 Ride: No. 4 Morgan-McClure Motorsports Chevrolet
2007 Sponsor: State Water Heaters
2007 Owner: Larry McClure
2007 Crew Chief: Chris Carrier

Stats: 16 races, zero wins, zero top fives, zero top 10s, 47th in points.

High Point: After starting 40th in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, Burton came on strong, finishing on the lead lap in 14th position. It was a wise decision by the team to have their best run of the season at a track that pays well: Burton collected $161,125 for the top-15 finish, nearly double the amount of his next highest payout. It was also the best finish for this single-car outfit in over two years.

Low Point: At Loudon in July, Burton completed just four laps of the Lenox Industrial Tools 300 before blowing the engine in the State Water Heaters Chevy. What could be worse than that? Plenty – Burton failed to qualify for a total of 19 races in 2007.

Summary: In his full-time return to the series for the first time since 2004, Burton was hoping for a serious comeback with Morgan-McClure Motorsports – but what he got was a nightmare. The Virginian recorded DNFs in eight of his 16 starts this year, resulting in an average finishing position of 35th place. The team finished 47th in the final points standings – about where a small team with limited sponsorship should be, but nowhere close to where Burton wanted to perform. He did manage three lead-lap finishes, and even led four laps at Michigan in August. However, this is a classic case of the driver being better than the equipment he is driving; additional sponsorship this season never materialized, and the team was operating on a far more limited budget than the top teams. Still, Larry McClure sidelined Burton at Homestead, opting to put Todd Bodine behind the wheel for the final race of the season. Unfortunately, Bodine suffered the same fate as Burton did all year long, failing to qualify for the Ford 400 and proving that the driver wasn’t to blame for poor performances.

Quote of the Year: “Every time we make one of these things on Friday, it’s almost like winning a race for us.” – Ward Burton

2008 Outlook: Burton is unsure of his plans for 2008, and has no timetable for an announcement. As for Larry McClure’s No. 4 Chevy, State Water Heaters will be back as a sponsor next year, but the team is negotiating for additional sponsorship. They have not named a driver for the upcoming 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, although Burton may still be a candidate for the ride.

2006 Frontstretch Grade: C-
2007 Grade: D

Editor’s Note: The 2007 season is over, and even the Final Chase exam has come to a close – which means it’s time to give each driver their annual year-end evaluation. For the second straight year, your favorite Frontstretch staff members are giving driver reviews for every full-time wheelman on the circuit, giving you insight into the seasons of anyone from AJ Allmendinger to JJ Yeley.

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