This Weekend's No. 31 Wheaties Chevrolet at Daytona International Speedway ...
Jeff Burton will race Chassis No. 343 from the Richard Childress Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series stable. This chassis, built in 2011 for RCR's No. 29 entry with driver Kevin Harvick, competed in three superspeedway events last season including the Daytona 500 where an engine failure relegated Harvick to a 42nd-place finish. Harvick also guided this machine to a top-five finish at Talladega Superspeedway in April 2011 and a top-10 finish in last season's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway. Burton got behind the wheel of this Chevrolet in the 2012 Budweiser Shootout at Daytona where he was involved in an early incident, but battled to an 11th-place finish and brought home a top-10 finish at Talladega Superspeedway in April.
Breakfast of Champions ...
The iconic Wheaties franchise returns to Sprint Cup Series action this weekend. This is the fourth of six scheduled races during the 2012 season in that Wheaties will be the primary partner of the No. 31 Chevrolet team. Wheaties also serves as an associate partner of the No. 31 team for the remainder of the races during the 2012 Sprint Cup Series season.
Career Daytona Stats ...
The Coke Zero 400 marks Burton's 38th start at the "World Center of Racing" and 637th-career Sprint Cup Series entry. He has amassed one win, eight top-five and 10 top-10 finishes along with one pole award at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
Getting Loopy at the World's Most Famous Beach ...
Burton has garnered some impressive NASCAR Loop Data statistics at Daytona International Speedway. Of all drivers entering the summer event, he has the second-most Green Flag Passes (3,142), the sixth-most Quality Passes (1,912), spent 1,549 Laps in the Top 15 (seventh-most), has the eighth best Average Running Position (15.562) and an 86.0 Driver Rating that ranks him ninth amongst his competitors.
No Stranger to Victory Lane ... Although he has yet to capture a victory in the "Great American Race," the South Boston, Va., native has three Daytona race trophies on his mantle. The first is from the 2000 Coke Zero 400 and most recently from last season's Duel 150 qualifying race. Burton also tallied the pole award for the 2006 Daytona 500.
Restrictor-Plate Ringer ... Two of Burton's three top-10 finishes during the 2012 Sprint Cup Series season came at restrictor-plate race tracks. Burton finished fifth in the season-opening Daytona 500 and 10th-place at Talladega Superspeedway in April.
Inside the Cockpit ... The No. 31 Chevrolet will carry an in-car camera on behalf of RCR partner Coca-Cola during the NASCAR on TNT live race broadcast of the Coke Zero 400.
Race Rewind ... Burton and the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet team posted a 24th-place finish in the Sprint Cup Series night race at Kentucky Speedway.
Points Racing ... After 17 points-paying events of the 36-race Sprint Cup Series season, Burton scored 428 points and sits 20th in the Sprint Cup Series driver championship point standings. The veteran RCR driver has one top-five and three top-10 finishes and spent 1,820 laps running in the top 15, made 1,688 green-flag passes and led 35 laps.
JEFF BURTON QUOTES:
You had a top-five finish in the Daytona 500. What are your thoughts on the Coke Zero 400?
"Daytona International Speedway has been a good race track for us. We typically run well there. We've had fast race cars going into Daytona the last few years and don't have the finishes to show for it. I felt like we have been position to win those races. I'm excited about our superspeedway program. We have worked hard on the program since Talladega (Superspeedway) in April and found some speed. I expect us to run well at Daytona."
The weather this weekend will be completely different than the weather for the Daytona 500. How will the car handle differently?
"They repaved the track a few years ago and it won't be long before handling becomes a factor. Everyone is wondering if this will be the race where handling starts to come into play. It's going to be hot and slick. I think the big question is, 'will handling come into play on the hot, slick track?' During the Daytona 500, we didn't have that issue."
Do you think the engine cooling issues have been fixed yet?
"I think it will still be a major issue. I'm not convinced we have fixed the issues. When you step back and look at the Talladega (Superspeedway) race in April, there were a lot of teams that couldn't run in the pack. We saw half of the teams drop back because they couldn't keep from overheating. I don't think enough has been done yet to fix that problem."
What are your thoughts on restrictor-plate racing with the new rules package instituted in 2012?
"Honestly, I like it the other way, but it doesn't matter to me. At the end of the day, we all go down there with the same rules package and we have to find a way to make it work. One thing about pack racing is that there is a price to be paid. Nothing is for free. If you put everyone in a pack, you know what that price is. I've been doing this for almost 20 years and I know the result of pack racing. I've seen it enough times to know what it is. It gets a little old tearing up cars. A majority of the fans like the pack racing, but we still have to remember what the result ultimately becomes. You're going to see those big wrecks."