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Ward Burton races to eighth-place finish

In his first start in one of NASCAR’s top three national racing series in five years, Ward Burton staged a clinic in the art of survival to race his way to an eighth-place finish in Friday night’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona International Speedway. Driving the No. 27 State Water Heaters sponsored truck for Hillman Racing, Burton hung back in the field most of the night, but was in the right place at the right time when a number of trucks were sidelined from the race in a series of crashes in the closing laps.

Threading his way through the mishaps, Burton finished eighth when the race finally ended.

“There is a lot of torn up trucks out here in this truck garage, and I am sure glad we are not one of them,” stated Burton.

“It was a good race. We learned some things as a new team together and with this being my first time in one of these trucks, I learned a bit about the handling. I am looking forward to sharing some of that info with Jeb and helping kick off his career in Martinsville next month.

“I really appreciate team owner Mike Hillman Sr., Trip Bruce and all the guys here on the No. 27 team for their hard work tonight,” he added.

Burton’s son, Jeb, will be driving the truck this season, starting with next month’s race at Martinsville Speedway. With the younger Burton not yet cleared to compete on superspeedways, Ward Burton took the reigns of the truck for Friday night’s race on the tenth anniversary weekend of his 2002 Daytona 500 victory.

Burton took the green flag and was quiet on the radio, just getting use to the feel of the truck and finding himself dancing with different drafting partners when the first caution came out on lap 19.

Burton was unsure if he had run over debris on the track, so crew chief Trip Bruce brought Burton down pit road to change four tires and add fuel. As Burton began to leave pit road, he started to experience trouble.

A vibration forced Bruce to bring Burton back down pit road twice, changing tires again as the truck continued to vibrate with the second set of tires on it. Crew members popped the hood and climbed under the wheel well looking for and removing caught up debris.

The team put the original set of tires back on the truck, and as Burton returned to the track, the vibration and handling issue disappeared.

Burton decided to hang back off of the draft of cars ahead, and ride at the rear of the field, looking to avoid the “big one,” the big multi-vehicle crash that often occurs at Daytona.

The “big one” happened all right, not just once but three times. The green–white-checker finish hit the max at the third and final attempt to finish the race, and that’s when Burton turned up the heat on the remaining field and charged to an impressive eighth place finish.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Jeb Burton will be behind the wheel of the truck for the first time in the NCWTS in the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway on March 31.

John King, a rookie driver making his eight career start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, won Friday night’s race, giving him his first career superspeedway win.

King was in the lead in the third overtime when Joey Coulter’s Chevrolet flew into the catch fence on the frontstretch after James Buescher’s Chevy turned sideways from contact with the truck of Ron Hornaday Jr. Coulter walked away from the wreck. The resulting caution froze the field and made a winner of King, who still seemed amazed at his accomplishment when he talked to reporters after the race.

“This is feature win No. 3 for me -- in my whole career,” King said. “It’s unbelievable. I couldn’t imagine being here, and we’re here.”

King led a one-two finish for Red Horse Racing, with former South Boston Speedway champion Timothy Peters of Providence, N.C. finishing second. Justin Lofton, Travis Kvapil and Jason White rounded out the top five finishers.

 

Stats

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race - NextEra Energy Resources 250

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach, Florida

Friday, Feb.24

 

1. (23) John King #, Toyota, 109

2. (27) Timothy Peters, Toyota, 109

3. (15) Justin Lofton, Chevrolet, 109

4. (19) Travis Kvapil(i), Toyota, 109

5. (8) Jason White, Ford, 109

6. (10) Todd Bodine, Toyota, 109

7. (22) Chris Fontaine, Toyota, 109

8. (25) Ward Burton, Chevrolet, 109

9. (4) Ty Dillon #, Chevrolet, 109

10. (26) Clay Greenfield, Dodge, 109

11. (28) Parker Kligerman, Dodge, 109

12. (21) Grant Enfinger, Ford, 109

13. (16) Dusty Davis #, Toyota, 109

14. (12) Ron Hornaday Jr., Chevrolet, 109

15. (33) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 109

16. (35) Chris Cockrum, Chevrolet, 109

17. (3) James Buescher, Chevrolet, 109

18. (9) Joey Coulter, Chevrolet, Accident, 108

19. (14) Paul Harraka #, Ford, 105

20. (11) Brendan Gaughan(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 104

21. (17) David Starr, Toyota, Accident, 104

22. (2) Nelson Piquet Jr., Chevrolet, Accident, 104

23. (30) Matt Crafton, Toyota, Accident, 104

24. (20) Johnny Sauter, Toyota, Accident, 104

25. (36) Rick Crawford, Chevrolet, Accident, 101

26. (29) Max Gresham #, Chevrolet, Accident, 100

27. (5) Brad Keselowski(i), Dodge, Accident, 99

28. (24) Ross Chastain #, Toyota, Accident, 94

29. (32) Bryan Silas #, Ford, Accident, 93

30. (1) Miguel Paludo, Chevrolet, Accident, 83

31. (34) TJ Duke #, Chevrolet, Accident, 62

32. (7) Cale Gale #, Chevrolet, Accident, 61

33. (13) Mike Skinner, Chevrolet, Accident, 61

34. (31) JR Fitzpatrick, Chevrolet, Accident, 61

35. (18) Dakoda Armstrong #, Toyota, Accident, 33

36. (6) Jason Leffler, Toyota, Accident, 17

w Average Speed of Race Winner: 119.169 mph.

w Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 17 Mins, 13 w Secs. Margin of Victory: Caution.

w Caution Flags: 9 for 37 laps.

w Lead Changes: 11 among 8 drivers.

w Lap Leaders: M. Paludo 1-20; B. Silas # 21; M. Paludo 22-43; R. Chastain # 44; M. Paludo 45-46; J. Buescher 47-54; M. Paludo 55-66; J. Buescher 67-68; N. Piquet Jr. 69-83; J. White 84-99; J. Sauter 100-103; J. King # 104-109.

w Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): M. Paludo 4 times for 56 laps; J. White 1 time for 16 laps; N. Piquet Jr. 1 time for 15 laps; J. Buescher 2 times for 10 laps; J. King # 1 time for 6 laps; J. Sauter 1 time for 4 laps; R. Chastain # 1 time for 1 lap; B. Silas # 1 time for 1 lap.

Top 10 in Points: J. King # - 47; T. Peters - 42; J. Lofton - 41; J. White - 40; T. Bodine - 38; C. Fontaine - 37; W. Burton - 36; T. Dillon # - 35; C. Greenfield - 34; P. Kligerman - 33.