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Burton wins sixth pole; last-lap crash thwarts bid for win

Jeb Burton of Halifax won his sixth pole of the season, but a multi-truck crash on the last lap foiled what appeared to be a solid finish in Saturday’s Fred’s 250 at Talladega Superspeedway.

“We could’ve had it on that last lap, but everyone was racing hard and unfortunately, things happen like that at this track,” said Burton after his 18th-place finish.

“I’m just glad that everyone is okay and we were all able to walk away from that wreck. This type of incident just shows how much NASCAR has put into its safety initiatives for us drivers and I’m really thankful for that.”

The 18th-place finish was good enough to allow Burton to remain in fourth place in the series point standings.

In his track debut at Talladega Superspeedway, Burton received his sixth Keystone Light pole award of the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season.

It placed the 21-year-old Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate just one pole win away from the current rookie pole award record set by Austin Dillon.

Burton entered the weekend with little drafting experience, having competed in the same No. 4 truck chassis at Daytona International Speedway earlier this year where he scored a top-10 finish. 

Starting from the inside, Burton led the field. His lead, however, was short-lived as teammate James Buescher got a push from behind and claimed the front, placing Burton in third position.

The first caution arose on lap nine for possible fluid on the track and crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. made the call for Burton to stay out. Burton continued to run in the top 10 as the second caution came out on lap 21 for debris on the track.

Hillman called Burton to pit road for a quick fuel-only stop, gaining Burton two spots in track position on the return. Running consistently, Burton saw an opportunity to tandem with the No. 62 truck on lap 35, but unfortunately, the pair faced issues on the track, causing Burton to drop to 20th.

Several trucks made their way to pit road just before the track went yellow on lap 56. Back in the top 10, Burton pitted under caution for four tires and fuel, returning to the track in 13th position.

With such a heavy emphasis on strategy at this track, Hillman called Burton back to pit road for a quick top-off of fuel on lap 58. The track was green for seven laps before another accident arose in which Burton received damage to the left nose of the truck. 

Hillman called Burton to pit road, confirmed the damage was minimal, and the team gave the truck four new tires and fuel. 

Restarting in the 22nd position, Burton remained patient, and within eight laps, another caution came out following a mishap that Burton narrowly avoided. 

With Burton running just outside the top 10 with 10 laps to go, the track went yellow again on lap 89 for an accident that occurred just behind Burton.

Hillman radioed for Burton to stay out on the track, but save fuel. In true Talladega fashion, the remaining drivers braced for a wild finish as the track went green again. 

Working his way into sixth position, Burton was receiving a push from teammate Miguel Paludo when things took a turn for the worse, resulting in a frightening 12-truck incident on the frontstretch right before the finish line.

After being evaluated and released from the Talladega infield care center, Burton was informed he had finished 18th.

I know I definitely struggled with patience during the race and I learned a lot about this type of racing,” Burton said.

“I’m looking forward to getting to my favorite track, Martinsville, next weekend and hope we can get another pole and land this thing in Victory Lane.”

This weekend Burton and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitors head to Martinsville Speedway for Saturday’s Kroger 200. 

The Kroger 200 will air live on Saturday beginning at 2:00 p.m. EDT on FOX Sports 1.