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Burton wins in first Pro Cup Series start

Jeb Burton proved earlier this season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series that he was a quick learner.

Saturday night he proved it a second time, outdueling J.P. Morgan to win the Heritage Truck Centers 250 Rev-Oil Pro Cup Series race at Motor Mile Speedway in his first-ever race in the series.

“It was definitely my biggest win,” Burton said Wednesday.

“It was cool to have all of my guys there. My dad and mom were there. It was definitely the best trophy I’ve gotten in my career so far.”

Burton drove a Chevrolet owned by Wes Gonder, the car owner that has given South Boston resident Stacy Puryear, a former Pro Cup Series race winner, a chance to compete in five Pro Cup races this season.

“It was a lot of fun,” Burton said of his first experience driving a Pro Cup car and competing in a Pro Cup race.

“The first time I ever sat in that car was Saturday. We won the three practices, qualified fourth and won the race. I was pretty happy with that.”

Burton said he appreciated having the opportunity to compete in the Pro Cup race. He said his sponsor, Common Grounds, played a big role in making the opportunity possible.

“It was a good opportunity,” Burton said.

“I talked to the people at Common Grounds about it and they were excited. Without them I wouldn’t be doing it. They have really helped me out a lot this year.”

Burton led multiple times in the race, and wrestled the lead away from Morgan for the final time with 20 laps to go. He took the lead for the first time when race leader Caleb Holman’s engine blew on lap 52.

From that point, Burton held onto the lead until Morgan got by him to take the lead on lap 118. Morgan led from that juncture to the mid-race break at lap 125.

Burton and Morgan swapped the lead in the second half of the race before Burton made the late pass that got him the victory.

“I watched him (Morgan) burn his rear tires off, and with about 30 laps to go, I decided it was time to go,” Burton said.

“I passed him and won by about 10 car lengths.”

The only disappointment on Burton’s big night was that his car failed to pass the post-race technical inspection as a result of a fender being too low. Burton said the problem with the fender was created by a mishap during the race.

“I got spun out by a lapped car and did a complete 360,” Burton explained.

“I got lucky on that deal. I was so far ahead of the third-place driver that I didn’t lose a position, and the caution flag came out.

“The contact (from the lapped car) knocked the (fender) brace loose on the left rear (fender),” he added.

“People didn’t understand why I had trouble going through tech. The left rear quarterpanel was too low. They (the Pro Cup officials) took all of my points away, but they still credited me with the win because what happened was nothing intentional.”

On Tuesday, Pro Cup officials announced that the team had been penalized all driver and owner points from the race and was fined of $2,250. The money from the fine is to be placed into the season ending owners’ championship fund. 

Gonder has given Burton additional opportunities to compete in the Pro Cup Series this season. Burton will compete in next weekend’s race at Southern National Speedway in Kenly, N.C. along with the Oct. 21 race at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway and the Nov. 3 race at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, N.C.

Burton is skipping the big NASCAR Late Model Stock Car race at Martinsville on Oct. 21 to compete in the Pro Cup event the night before at Hickory, N.C.

“I appreciate Mr. Gonder giving me the opportunity,” Burton said.

“I’m excited about this opportunity. I think it’s better for my career for me to be doing this (racing in Pro Cup) than running Late Model. I’m going to bring the car to my shop this (coming) week. We’re going to put it on our scales and set it up the way we want it to be and prepare it for the race at Southern National Speedway.

“Common Grounds is my sponsor, and without them I definitely wouldn’t be doing this deal. They helped me out a whole lot with my Late Model car and with the Pro Cup deal and I thank them for making this possible.”

Burton said an opportunity is there for him to compete in the Pro Cup Series next season, but that he is hoping that he can get back into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

“The opportunity (for a Pro Cup ride) is on the table,” Burton said, “but we’re working on a bunch of stuff trying to get an opportunity run the full Truck Series schedule next year and run for the championship, and it looks like that might happen.

“We’re talking to a bunch of different (Truck Series) teams trying to work something out. Dad (his father, 2002 Daytona 500 champion Ward Burton) is working hard on it every day. It’s getting close, we just haven’t landed it yet. 

“That’s what I really want to be doing,” Burton added.

“I hope we get lucky and I can get another opportunity in the Truck Series.”