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Best place with a lap to go? It depends

As soon as Kevin Harvick came from the pack on the final lap to win last Saturday's Budweiser Shootout, conventional wisdom said that the leading the race was the wrong place to be with one lap left at Daytona.

On Thursday, both Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch won their respective Gatorade Duel 150 qualifying races - from the lead. So much for conventional wisdom.

Will it be better to lead or to follow on the final lap of Sunday's Daytona 500? Jeff Burton, driver of the #31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, says the answer depends on the circumstances.

"It really depends on the situation," he said Friday before Sprint Cup practice at Daytona International Speedway. "If it's a green-flag deal, and everybody is kind of single-file and that kind of situation, I think leading is where you want to be.

"If you're leading, and it's a restart with three or four (laps) to go, I'm not sure that's real good. So really it's situational. Being out front isn't always the best thing. But if you're out front in the right situation, it is.

"Actually, sometimes when it's a late restart, starting in the back is almost an advantage, especially when you have a high-groove situation, because you can go three-wide and you can be progressing and making stuff happen. On a restart, I'd want to be third, fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh with a few to go; single file, I want to be leading."

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News


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Jeff Burton at Daytona [Pic credit: Getty for NASCAR]
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