- Last Updated on 12:58 PM 04/08/13
- BY Joe Chandler
MARTINSVILLE — The only thing that would have been better for Jeb Burton in Saturday’s Kroger 250 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Martinsville Speedway would have been a win.
Burton finished third in Saturday’s 250-lap race, his best career finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, showing that his fifth-place effort in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway was no fluke.
The 20-year-old Halifax resident, the son of Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, won his first career NCWTS pole Friday after having topped the speed charts in Friday’s practice session.
He led the most laps in Saturday’s race, leading four times for a total of 158 laps before Johnny Sauter passed him for the lead with 17 laps to go and went on to edge ThorSport Racing teammate Matt Crafton by 1.888 second to make a sweep of the season’s first two Truck Series races.
Burton, who has now competed in seven career NCWTS races, left Martinsville Speedway as the highest finishing Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate for the second race in a row. He stands in second place in the Truck Series points standings 12 points behind Sauter.
“I really wanted to win, and had them covered for half of the race,” said Burton.
“I was really good at the beginning, and we adjusted to the track at halfway and we still had them covered.
“I just used up too much of the truck late,” added Burton.
“But we’ve got nothing to hang our head about. We had a good truck all day.”
Burton pitted for a fresh set of tires during the race’s seventh caution period and was 13th in the running order when the race restarted on lap 150. He worked his way back to the front of the field and took the lead for the third time in the race when race leader Darrell Wallace Jr. pitted during the race’s ninth caution period.
He lost the lead to Danville resident and former South Boston Speedway Champion Timothy Peters on lap 218 after the restart following the race’s 10th caution period, but got it back a lap later.
Sauter took the lead from Burton on the race’s final restart on lap 234 and held on the rest of the way, with Crafton getting past Burton shortly afterward to grab the runner-up spot.
“I abused the right rear tire a little bit too early when I had to get back up through the pack after we pitted,” Burton explained.
“It was my fault. I thought it was 40 (laps) to go, and it was actually 60 to go. I went a little harder than I needed to and abused my right rear tire just a little bit. It cost me the win. If I would have saved my stuff a little bit more, I don’t think it would have ended like it did.”
Sauter said when he saw Burton’s truck getting loose in the corners late in the race he knew he had a shot at the win.
“He (Burton) was coming off of the corners at a 45-degree angle for a few laps,” Sauter pointed out.
“I got a good restart and he (Burton) got a little loose and I was able to clear him. I knew it was a matter of time.”
Peters finished fourth with Wallace finishing fifth. Chase Elliott, Dakoda Armstrong, Ryan Sieg, Erik Jones and Ron Hornaday rounded out the top ten.
The only blemish on Burton’s day came on lap 105 when his truck got into the rear of Hornaday’s truck as they battled for the lead entering the third turn. Hornaday’s truck spun and crashed into the wall and Burton inherited the lead.
Hornaday fell a lap down when his team made repairs to the truck but rallied to get back onto the lead lap and finish in the top ten.
“I ran in (into the corner) a little too hard and got into him,” Burton explained. “There’s not much else to say.”
The win gave Sauter a sweep of the first two races of the season. He won the opener at Daytona five weeks ago, and with Saturday’s win he became only the second driver in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history to win the first two races of the season. Mark Martin won the first two races of the 2006 season.
Sauter averaged 62.595 mph in the race that was slowed by 11 cautions that consumed 71 laps.
There were 13 lead changes among seven drivers.