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On long cook, coals burn straight down, leave unburned coal around the edges egg. Any idea why?

I use an electric starter and when I look at the charcoal after a long 12-18 hour cook, it seems where I lit the charcoal, in the middle of the firebox, the coals burned straight down and leave a ring of unburned lump around the edges of the egg. This usually happens when cooking a butt or brisket. Any idea what I'm doing wrong? Thanks for your help in advance.

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