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Burton returns to Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — When a Daytona 500 champion returns to Daytona International Speedway, it’s always a special trip for the driver no matter the time of year.

Ward Burton, the 2002 Daytona 500 champion, was at the “World Center of Racing” on Thursday hosting employees and customers from one of his sponsors – State Water Heaters – for a day with the Richard Petty Driving Experience.

“This race track is so full and represents such good things about this sport and NASCAR,” Burton said. “It’s so rich in history. Just coming in the grounds – it feels like hallowed ground. Today, we’re doing an event for State Water Heaters with 25 customers and we do this around the country. Last time we were here doing this was ’09 so we’re glad to be back and doing it at Daytona again.”

Burton plans four of these events per year with State Water Heaters and Richard Petty Driving Experience at tracks around the country. He climbs behind the wheel of a two-seat No. 27 State Water Heaters Chevrolet prepared by Richard Petty Driving Experience and gives rides to guests. Following the rides and more instruction, guests then get their turn to drive on the legendary tri-oval.

In February, Burton celebrated the 10th anniversary of his Daytona 500 victory by making a return to NASCAR competition for the first time since 2007. He finished eighth in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.

These days, Burton’s focus has now shifted to his 19-year-old son Jeb, who wants to follow the footsteps of his Daytona 500-winning father. Jeb Burton, who races Late Models out of his own shop in Virginia, made five starts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this year notching one top-10 finish. 

Ward Burton says Jeb has “raw talent” and he is doing his best to put together sponsorship so his son can compete in a full season of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series beginning next year during Budweiser Speedweeks 2013.

“Jeb did a phenomenal job beyond my expectations with the resources we had and the limited seat time,” Ward Burton said of his son’s five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts. “Actually I’ve been in Orlando the last two days working on sponsorship opportunities for Jeb. I need to get him back out there. He deserves to be there. He has got the talent to represent somebody really well. I’m working everyday for my son.”