Jeff Burton and the No. 31 Wheaties Chevrolet team finished 19th after a tire issue late in the race forced them to make an unscheduled green-flag pit stop in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Burton qualified 22nd for the longest race on the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series circuit and while battling a tight-handling race car, climbed into the top 20 for the first portion of the 400-lap marathon.
With a an early long green-flag run, crew chief Drew Blickensderfer and the No. 31 Wheaties Chevrolet pit crew were unable to make planned major chassis adjustments on the car until the first caution-flag period on lap 113. Upon returning to the race track, Burton managed to move up six positions, to 16th, where the 21-time Sprint Cup Series race winner ran until the halfway point when the tight-handling condition returned. As day turn into night at the 1.5-mile oval, the No. 31 crew went back to work on Burton’s Chevrolet trying to remedy the tight-handling issue and the South Boston, Va. native worked his way back into the top 15.
After a routine four-tire pit stop on lap 302 under green-flag conditions, Burton radioed to Blickensderfer that the right-rear wheel had a major issue. The 44-year-old driver tried valiantly to maintain track position, but was forced to return to pit road for an unscheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 310, pinning the team two laps down to the leader in the 27th position. For the remainder of the event, Burton’s “never-give-up” attitude paid off as he gained eight positions on the track and posted top-five lap times throughout the final portion of the 600-mile race, bringing the Wheaties Chevrolet home in 19th-place. Burton remains 17th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings.
Start – 22 Finish – 19 Laps Led – 0 Points – 17
Jeff Burton on his race: “I know the finish doesn’t show it, but we made huge strides with our 1.5-mile program tonight. We had a top-15, maybe even top-10 race car at the end, but that tire issue pinned us down a couple laps. While I am disappointed about the random issue, I am very proud of the No. 31 Wheaties crew. We are working hard and slowly getting where we need to be week-in and week-out.”