- Last Updated on 07:52 AM 02/21/14
- BY Joe Chandler
A month and a half ago Jeb Burton was on the outside looking in.
Out of a ride in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series after his sponsorship from last season dried up, there weren’t many prospects out there for the Halifax resident, who, as a rookie won a race and finished in the top five of the NCWTS standings.
All of a sudden, the door of opportunity opened up when ThorSport Racing owners Duke and Rhonda Thorson offered Burton a ride with their team to join series veterans Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter.
On Tuesday, another bit of good fortune came Burton’s way with the announcement that VaporBrands International Inc and its e-cigarette brand VAMP would serve as the team’s primary sponsor for tonight’s season-opening NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway.
Considering the position he was in earlier, Burton is very thankful he is where he is now.
“Without Mr. and Mrs. Thorson, I definitely wouldn’t be here,” Burton pointed out.
“They called me and were really interested in putting something together for me to be with the third team. If I run Trucks fulltime, it will be with ThorSport Racing. That’s our agreement. I’m committed to them and they’re committed to me.
“That’s a good thing,” added Burton.
“It’s a blessing. They wanted me and they believe in me and that means a lot to my family and I. This shows that some things happen for a reason. Maybe this is a blessing in disguise.”
With Burton being added to the ThorSport Racing stable, ThorSport Racing enters the 2014 season with three drivers that finished in the top five in the series standings last season.
“I was recently looking at last year’s points standings, and Matt won the championship, Johnny finished fourth and I finished fifth,” Burton noted.
“The other (two) guys that finished in the top five aren’t racing trucks anymore. I feel like we’re a stout stable, and my team just needs to build and develop chemistry.”
Burton said he is glad to be teammates with Crafton and Sauter, and is looking forward to working with them.
“Johnny and Matt and I get along well,” Burton said.
“We’ve never had one cross word or even touched a fender on the racetrack. We’ve always raced each other really clean. I think they’re the best teammates I’ve been lined up with and I look forward to working with them.”
Burton said his goal for this season is to win races. A good start, he said would be a top-five finish in tonight’s season-opening race.
“I want to win some races, for sure,” remarked Burton.
“I just want to get a top-five at Daytona. That would be really good after everything that has gone on the last month and a half. That would be really good for both my confidence and the team’s confidence.
“That’s what I set out to do last year,” he added.
“If we can put ourselves in the right position, maybe we can win the race.”
Burton had a win and 11 top-10 finishes last season in his rookie year, finished fifth in the NCWTS points standings and won the season’s Keystone Light season-long pole award with seven pole wins.
“Last year we probably should have won five or six races,” Burton pointed out.
“But, these races are so hard to win. You can have the best truck and it is still hard to win because there are so many scenarios that you’re running into. It’s not just one green flag race, you’ve got to pit, you’ve got pit stops, fuel mileage and dirty air when you get behind trucks. There is a lot of stuff going on, and it’s hard to win. We’ve got to capitalize when we’re the dominant truck or car this year.”
Just how many races Burton will be able to run with ThorSport Racing will depend upon sponsorship as well as other factors.
Burton said that at the present time it looks like he will run ”pretty much the first three (races), but I feel like if we go out there and run well and we can get some sponsorship, we can do the full season. We’re working on trying to find sponsors for the truck for Mr. and Mrs. Thorson so we can compete fulltime in the Truck Series.
Burton also has his sights set on running some races in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season. He finished eighth in his Nationwide Series debut at Kentucky Speedway last season.
The Halifax resident said he is in discussions with JR Motorsports, which is owned by NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Dale Earnhardt Jr., to try to put together an opportunity to run some Nationwide Series races.
”We’re talking with them, and that’s definitely a Nationwide Series team you want to be with,” Burton said.
“JR Motorsports and I are teaming up to try to find companies to work with. They have a bunch of races open. We’re just working on trying to find some sponsorship for when it’s not conflicting with the truck team and truck races to run some Nationwide races. I think we’ll run or two at least this year.”
In the meantime, the picture that is in focus for Burton is the one with ThorSport Racing.
“I feel like I’ve got a really good race team,” Burton said.
“I’ve just got to get to bonding with those guys and get started building a good notebook.
“I just need to go do what I’m capable of doing,” added Burton.
“I need to get out there and run all of the laps and get top tens. I’ve got to do what I was doing last year, that is to run all of the laps and be there at the end.”