Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team posted a 24th-place finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway. The 21-time Sprint Cup Series race winner started the 267-lap event in the 29th position and raced his way into the 22nd position in the early stages of the race despite battling a tight-handling Chevrolet. A long green-flag run out the field and Burton fell one lap down to the leader.
Unable to secure the “Lucky Dog” award after caution-flag periods on laps 126 and 150, crew chief Drew Blickensderfer decided to use a different pit strategy than other teams in the field by working to make it to the end of the race by utilizing one final pit stop instead of two as all other teams were planning. The No. 31 team engineers calculated the ECR engines were getting superior fuel mileage in comparison to the competition and Blickensderfer’s plan was coming together as Burton brought the No. 31 machine to pit road for routine four-tire service on lap 210.
However, the caution flag was displayed for an accident on the track while the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet was on pit road and the team ended where they started, pinned one lap down. In the final stages of the race Burton’s car developed a loose-handing condition, but the veteran Sprint Cup Series driver battled his way to a 24th-place finish on the slick asphalt surface and now sits 20th in Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
JEFF BURTON QUOTE: “Tough finish tonight because I thought we had a top-15 car, but terrible luck found us again and we were pinned one lap down for most of the event. I really wanted to get a good finish for everyone today because I felt like these guys worked so hard and stayed positive all night. We also had a lot of CAT folks in the stands so we were racing hard for them. We should be very competitive next weekend down in Daytona where we finished fifth in the Daytona 500.”