After running in the top 15 for 240 of the first 364 laps in Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover International Speedway, Jeff Burton’s No. 31 BB&T Chevrolet suffered engine problems, forced the team to retire early and relegating the Richard Childress Racing driver to a 22nd-place finish. After qualifying in the 15th position for the 400-lap event, Burton settled into the top 20 for the first part of the race which included a 20-minute red-flag period for a multi-car pileup on the treacherous DIS backstretch.
By lap 130, crew chief Drew Blickensderfer and the No. 31 pit crew had two opportunities to make handling adjustments during routine pit stops on Burton’s Chevrolet and the 44-year-old veteran driver began climbing up the leaderboard, working his way into the top 10 with 75 laps to go. The final scheduled four-tire pit stop of the day occurred under caution-flag conditions on lap 350 and the South Boston Va., native restarted in the 10th position.
On lap 364 after picking off competitors and working his way up to eighth with 25 laps remaining, Burton reported to Blickensderfer that the engine had expired. The RCR driver retired the No. 31 Chevrolet to the garage early and finished in the 22nd position. Burton now sits 18th in Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
Start – 15 Finish – 22 Laps Led – 0 Points – 18
Jeff Burton on his race: “Well, first of all, we had a good car today. The BB&T Chevrolet was fast. We had a solid top-10 car easy. I thought on the long run, we had a top-five car. That’s the good thing. I feel like we’re starting to get our big track program turned around. We’re getting some stuff in the cars. It feels good to me and it’s showing so that’s the main thing. We broke an engine here, but it just is what it is. The monkey is on us right now. It will get off one day, but it seems like for the past year and a half or so, it’s been on us pretty hard. We’ll keep digging. I’ve never quit anything in my life and I won’t quit this.“