Kentucky Speedway

Kentucky Speedway: Young Burton proving he has game to go with NASCAR name

Jeb Burton waved to the crowd before the Truck series race at Martinsville Speedway, where he won the first of his three poles.
Jeb Burton waved to the crowd before the Truck series race at Martinsville Speedway, where he won the first of his three poles. AP

If there are indeed perks that come with bearing a surname synonymous with NASCAR success, they were news to Jeb Burton as his backside was planted on a couch around this time last year.

That his father is 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton and his uncle current Cup Series stalwart Jeff Burton didn't make the now 20-year-old immune to the financial struggles that plague many race teams. Five starts into his Camping World Truck Series career last season, his sponsorship money at Hillman Racing dried up, leaving him to head to the Late Model and Pro Cup Series ranks in hopes of attracting another top-level opportunity.

Turner Scott Motorsports provided such a chance when it signed Jeb Burton to a full-time Truck Series ride last November. With his immediate future infused with stability, Burton's familial talents have risen up to further secure his foothold in the sport.

Jeb Burton is particularly proud of what he has done in his last seven races considering how few special favors his name earned him along the way.

On June 7, Burton posted his first career Truck Series victory in his 12th start when he won at Texas, moving him just 23 points behind points leader Matt Crafton heading into Thursday night's UNOH 225 at Kentucky Speedway.

That same Texas race a year earlier marked the end of his 2012 rookie try when he couldn't enter because of a lack of sponsorship and instead was forced to watch on television.

Taking that hardship the hardest was his father, Ward, dismayed that he couldn't provide his son all the resources necessary to keep him on the track.

Given the tearful celebration that erupted in Victory Lane this month and his realistic hopes for a series championship this year, Jeb Burton isn't sorry he had to come by his achievements on his own merit.

"By me not running ... ARCA and having a whole bunch of opportunities, I think not having that has made me the person I am today and made me the race car driver I am," Jeb Burton said during a teleconference Tuesday. "Looking back on it, I'm kind of glad that I didn't. I've done something different than a lot of people and just jumped right from late models and went straight to trucks. So I think definitely (the win) took a big weight off my dad, and all his hard work's paid off."

Erase the financial bump that momentarily knocked Jeb Burton to the sidelines, and his brief time in the Truck Series could be categorized as meteoric.

The Virginia native finished a respectable 13th, on the lead lap, in his first career Truck Series start at Martinsville in April 2012. Fast forward to his April 2013 outing at the same track and Burton was winning the first of what have been his series-high three poles in seven races this year — which have contributed to his posting five top-10 finishes this season.

Finishing well earned Jeb Burton quick credibility against any possible notion of nepotism. He acknowledges there was pressure to start adding to his family's career win total, but it was mostly coming from himself.

"We had the speed every week. It was just having a little bit of luck and being at the right place at the right time," Jeb Burton said. "We finally got that off our shoulders, and now we've got some momentum, and the pressure's off of us to win now.

"Finally, to put it together was definitely gratifying."

Burton will have to navigate several tracks for the first time in the final 15 races of the Truck Series season, something that will further test his precocious development.

Getting momentum at such 1.5-mile ovals as Texas and Kentucky can set a driver up for top results to come in bunches. And Jeb Burton has already shown he is quick to build upon a strong foundation.

"Texas was the first time I was there, and what we've been doing is just easing into it the first couple of laps and just look at our surroundings on the racetrack and then go after it," he said "Our race team is trying to focus on us, and we just got to keep doing what we're doing so we can be on stage at the end of the year."


Thursday's events at Kentucky Speedway

7:30 a.m — NASCAR Nationwide Series haulers enter track

11 a.m. — Speedway Gate 15 opens

11 a.m. — NASCAR Sprint Cup Series haulers enter track

Noon — NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 225 final practice

1 p.m. — NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage opens

4 p.m. — All Speedway gates and infield fan zone open

5 p.m. — NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 225 qualifying

6:30 p.m. — NASCAR Nationwide Series Feed the Children 300 practice

7:30 p.m. — NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 225 pre-race celebration

8 p.m. — NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 225


Feb. 22 — NextEra Energy Resources 250 (Johnny Sauter)

April 6 — Kroger 250, Ridgeway, Va. (Johnny Sauter)

April 14 — North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at The Rock, Rockingham, N.C. (Kyle Larson)

April 20 — SFP 250, Kansas City, Kan. (Matt Crafton)

May 17 — North Carolina Education Lottery 200, Concord, N.C. (Kyle Busch)

May 31 — Lucas Oil 200, Dover, Del. (Kyle Busch)

June 7 — WinStar World Casino 400k, Fort Worth, Texas (Jeb Burton)

Remaining schedule

Thursday — UNOH 225, Sparta, Ky.

July 13 — American Ethanol 200, Newton, Iowa

July 24 — Mudsummer Classic, Rossburg, Ohio

Aug. 3 — Pocono Mountains 125, Long Pond, Pa.

Aug. 17 — Michigan 200, Brooklyn, Mich.

Aug. 21 — UNOH 200, Bristol, Tenn.

Sept. 1 — Canadian Tire 150, Bowmanville, Ontario

Sept. 8 — Iowa 200, Newton, Iowa

Sept. 13 — Chicagoland 225, Joliet, Ill.

Sept. 28 — Smith's 350, Las Vegas

Oct. 19 — Fred's 250 powered by Coca-Cola, Talladega, Ala.

Oct. 26 — Kroger 200, Ridgeway, Va.

Nov. 1 — WinStar World Casino 350k, Fort Worth, Texas

Nov. 8 — Lucas Oil 150, Avondale, Ariz.

Nov. 15 — Ford EcoBoost 200, Homestead, Fla.

Driver standings

1. Matt Crafton 28511. Timothy Peters 196

2. Jeb Burton 26212. Ron Hornaday Jr. 193

3. Brendan Gaughan 25013. Joey Coulter 192

4. Johnny Sauter 24014. Ryan Sieg 191

5. Ryan Blaney 23815. Todd Bodine 181

6. James Buescher 23516. David Starr 179

7. Ty Dillon 23217. John Wes Townley 178

8. Darrell Wallace Jr. 21818. Tim George Jr. 177

9. Miguel Paludo 21119. German Quiroga 174

10. Dakoda Armstrong 20920. Max Gresham 161

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