When the initial green flag waved for the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday night, Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Kwikset Chevrolet were lined up 17th. Right from the start, Burton and the Luke Lambert-led team elected to drop back through the field and maintain a position far enough away from the lead pack to avoid trouble, but close enough they could quickly get back and race with the leaders.
For the early portion of the 161-lap race, Burton was running in the 30s with few handling issues. Through the first three caution periods, Lambert and Burton agreed to make pit stops for four tires, fuel, minor air pressure and chassis adjustments. During a caution on lap 130, Burton stayed out to lead a lap while others hit pit road as soon as it opened. Just as Burton was starting to make his move towards the front, the caution came out on lap 149 for a multi-car wreck on the frontstretch tri-oval. This brought out the red flag for eight minutes and 53 seconds, before the yellow was displayed to restart the race with Burton in 28th with 27 laps remaining.
Burton dodged cars spinning in front of him with five laps remaining while he was up to 19th place. This set up a green-white-checkered finish and, as usual at a restrictor-plate race, mechanical mayhem ensued after the white flag was waved. Burton worked his way up to 16th and maintained his position until crossing under the checkered flag. Right after he took the checkers, he was caught up in a multi-car wreck damaging his Kwikset Chevrolet, but walked away unharmed. With his finish of 16th, Burton and team remain 21st in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
Start – 17 Finish 16 Laps Led – 1 Points – 21st
JEFF BURTON QUOTE: “This wasn’t the finish this Kwikset team deserved tonight. We played it safe there for most of the race and were just getting wound up to go to the front when that caution waved with five to go. That set up the green-white-checkered-finish and it just wasn’t enough time to get to where I know that car could have run.”
-Richard Childress Racing PR