- Last Updated on 08:02 AM 05/23/12
- BY Special to the Gazette
Jeb Burton had a humbling rookie experience when he wrecked on the first lap of the recent NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Kansas.
The young Halifax resident redeemed himself in Friday night’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, earning a career-best eighth-place finish in his fourth-ever Truck race and a pair of race awards, the Sunoco Rookie of the Race Award and the Featherlite Most Improved Driver award.
“I kind of got down on myself a couple weeks ago at Kansas and made a rookie mistake,” Burton explained after Friday night’s race.
“I’m shaking right now. I’ve wanted this real bad, and I’m blessed with the opportunity. I’m excited for my family and myself. I’m trying to improve myself so I can get an opportunity, so I can race with these guys each week.”
Burton struggled with the truck in practice while trying to learn the track. He felt the truck was tight and he was having difficulty with throttle control. With the assistance of crew chief, Trip Bruce, and his dad, former Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, he gained confidence going into qualifying and earned the 21st position for the start of the race.
Burton rode around mid-pack during the first part of the race, learning how to move around and stay out of trouble when drivers were taking turns three and sometimes four wide. Following a caution flag on lap 24, Burton pitted for a wedge bolt adjustment and fuel. On the restart, Burton was 20th, but he didn’t stay there for long.
Burton advanced his position every 10 laps until he found himself in the top 10. He was running sixth when a caution flag came out on lap 71. Crew Chief Trip Bruce called for four tires, fuel and a tire-pressure adjustment.
There were four more cautions, and each time Bruce advised Burton to stay out on the track and save fuel. Bruce, knew they were close on fuel, but thought they would make it. He advised Burton to stay calm and focus on his restarts.
Burton fell back a few times on restarts as he continued to learn consistency and smoothness, but had no trouble regaining his position and remaining in the top 10.
When the checkered flag fell, Burton sped across the finish line in eighth-place, earning his career-best NCWTS finish.
«I am happy and blessed to have this opportunity,” Burton said.
«I can›t thank my family and State Water Heaters enough. That was fun out there and I am proud I was able to show my talents. I hope we are able to continue to race like that because I know I can win if given the opportunity.»
«We had a truck that could win,” Bruce pointed out.
“I know with a little more seat time and experience on these tracks, Jeb can win these races.
Next up for Burton is the Lucas Oil 200 at Dover International Speedway on June 1.