Times have been tough for former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series winner Jeb Burton. Funding has been hard to come by, which has relegated the son of 2002 Daytona 500 champion Ward Burton, to running his Late Model Stock Car on occasion and racing in the Xfinity Series or with the Trucks when he can afford to.
On Friday night, Burton arrived at North Carolina’s Ace Speedway ready to race 100 laps in the Late Model Stock. He’ll be racing in the Xfinity Series at Richmond Raceway (VA) next weekend with Richard Childress Racing, so the extra seat time helps.
Burton started along side of Blake Stallings and stayed in the second or third position for nearly the first three-quarters of the event. When Stallings led, Burton was in second. Then Jason York got by and challenged Stallings for the lead. Eventually he took the lead, and Burton followed by Stallings to take second.
After a restart with about 30 laps to go, Burton decided it was time to pressure York for the lead. Burton was able to get by York off turn two with about 25 laps to go.
From there, Burton had to hold off one more challenge in the form of Virginia’s Kyle Dudley. Dudley tried hard to close, and almost did thanks to the aid of a lapped car that interfered with Burton with less than five laps to go.
But Dudley was able to get no closer than three car-lengths back, and it was Burton crossing under the checkered flag first to take the victory in the season-opening event in front of a packed house at Ace Speedway.
“We really didn’t have that good of a car,” said Burton in victory lane. “I think we just saved more tire than everybody else. We were really tight. We have some work to do before the CARS Tour race. That isn’t going to win a CARS Tour race. We’ve got to get a little bit better, but I’m really proud of the guys.”
Those that have followed Jeb Burton’s career know that the last couple of seasons have been tough for him. That’s why victory lane on Friday night was very meaningful for all, especially for Jeb and for his father. After most of the interviews were done and many of the pictures were taken, father and son shared a long embrace on the Ace Speedway frontstretch.
“This feels badass, man,” Burton said. “It’s been a tough road. State Water Heaters have been behind me the whole way. Without them I wouldn’t even be racing next weekend. I’m really thankful to have them as partners and everybody that helps us. This car was a bare chassis last week. A lot of hours went into this. We got it done, man.”
Kyle Dudley finished second behind Burton. Ryan Millington, Danny Willis Jr., and Blake Stallings completed the top five.
Speed51.com will have video highlights from the season-opening Late Model Stock Car event still to come on the Speed51 Video Network.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Associate Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com
Late Model Stock Car 100
Ace Speedway, Altamahaw, North Carolina
|4||23||Danny Willis Jr|
|9||45||Gary Young Jr|