The Bank of America 500 was won by a 41 year old racing "mensch" named Jeff Burton. Jeff held off some of the top drivers in the field like Kasey Kahne and Jimmy Johnson and battled for the lead of this race. At the press conference following the race, Jeff was the epitome of professionalism and the goal of pursuing your life's goals and passions. He said he loved racing since he was 7 years old. He battled not only on the track, but was "the next star" about a decade prior. He told us he had to fight through some of the ups and downs of career to be in the position this year to win the Sprint Cup this year.
His wife was there at his side. She monitored his progress from the pits, and sat on the side of the press conference room as well. He discussed focus and life balance. When you are preparing for a race at this level, the driver and crew need to have total team focus for success. When the race is over, it is time to celebrate. He wants his teammates to also have other interests and balance in their lives. He had a healthy perspective of being at the top of your game, but realizing that this is just one part of your life.
His team owner, Richard Childress, battling a cold or flu, sat to Burton's left at the press conference and showed his pride in Jeff's accomplishments. Early in his career, Jeff Burton, was mentored by Mark Martin. Mark had instilled in him the idea that the next race you win might be your last, so enjoy it. It also allowed perspective of winning and losing as well.
Burton also showed that physically he works hard to keep his body in the shape of an athlete ten years younger. This is another factor in keeping himself as role model of integrity to others in the sport. At the time when the sport is moving to more branding and commercialization and away from the old legends in NASCAR, Jeff Burton is the bridge between the past and the future of the sport. He has the drive, desire and determination to bring home the Cup. NASCAR and its fans should be proud to have such a role model at the pinnacle of its sport.