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Burton finishes fifth in first Daytona start

Jeb Burton made his first career start at Daytona International Speedway count in a big way with a fifth-place finish in Friday night’s NextEra Enery Resources 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.

Burton, who was making his first start with Turner Scott Motorsports, was in the lead pack and trying to challenge for the win when a wreck on the final lap froze the field and left him with a fifth-place finish and gave Johnny Sauter the win.

“We needed one more lap, I think,” Burton remarked during a post-race press conference.

“It would have been interesting going down the back. But, I’m happy to get a top five (finish).”

Burton’s fifth-place finish was his best finish in his six career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts. His previous best finish was an eighth-place effort in last May’s event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It also made him the top-finishing Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate and put him in fifth place in the series points standings heading into the series’ next event, which comes Saturday, April 6 at Martinsville Speedway.

He was also the top-finishing driver for Turner Scott Motorsports, which had four trucks in the 36-truck field.

The big night capped what had been a great first career start at Daytona International Speedway. Burton was the fastest in the series’ first practice session and second fastest in the series’ final practice before the race. Burton qualified seventh and brought the truck home in fifth-place at the end of the race.

“It was a good way to start off the year for the Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet,” Burton pointed out. 

“It (the race) started off kind of wild, then it settled down. Right there at the end, I was going to do whatever the 3 (Ty Dillon) did.  The 3 jumped up on the outside. I didn’t feel that was the right thing to do, so I stayed down low. Then, the caution came out.”

Aside from Scott Riggs’ blown engine -- the cause of the first caution on Lap 26 -- the race was a model of decorum until Lap 54, when Brendan Gaughan tried to put his truck into a gap that closed before he completed the move.

The result was a 14-truck melee that sidelined Gaughan, polesitter Brennan Newberry, Bryan Silas and Chris Fontaine.

A subsequent caution called after Jason White’s Chevrolet smacked the outside wall gave the field a chance to pit for fuel, ensuring that all trucks could make it to the end of the scheduled 250 miles without refueling.

Sauter was leading the pack with eight laps left when Ryan Truex’s Chevrolet was hung in the middle lane and began falling back through the field. Truex lost control and triggered a five-truck wreck that wiped out the Toyota of Timothy Peters.

That set up a five-lap shootout with Sauter and Todd Bodine coming to the green side-by-side. Bodine lost ground on the restart, ceding the second spot to Busch, who trailed Sauter as the top 12 trucks in the running order ran single-file on the bottom of the track.

Moments after Sauter took the white flag, an accident involving defending series champion James Buescher, Joey Coulter, John King and Jeff Agnew caused the sixth caution of the race, and Sauter took the checkered flag under yellow.

Burton said after the race that it was a little better than what he had expected.

“It was a little calmer than what we’ve seen in the past,” Burton said.

“Last year we did three green-white-checkereds.  I was glad we went across the finish line and I wasn’t in a wreck.”