Jeb Burton finds a mentor in Jimmie Johnson
June 25, 2013, Zack Albert, NASCAR.com
Is it not enough that Jeb Burton is getting pointers from his father, Ward, a former Daytona 500 winner? It turns out that the first-year phenom also has a five-time Sprint Cup champion in his corner.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie has been a quick study in the first seven races of the season, coming up aces in qualifying all year and putting all the components together for his first career victory in the series’ most recent race at Texas Motor Speedway.
But Burton suggests that the learning process isn’t all based on fatherly advice. That’s where the influence of Jimmie Johnson has come in.
"All my guys are pumped up. We've got the speed every week. Hopefully, we can go do it again this weekend."
-- Jeb Burton
“Jimmie obviously is one of the best there ever was, and I've talked to him about a lot of stuff off the racetrack, about how to be better and just working out and trying to be the best you can be,” Burton said during a NASCAR teleconference Tuesday. “I think that's why he's so good. He's so focused. I've told him, that's my role model, and that's who I want to be like. So for him to take the time and talk to me, it really means a lot.”
Burton will try to put the wisdom to good use in Thursday night’s UNOH 225 (8 p.m. ET, SPEED) at Kentucky Speedway. The event will end a three-week layoff for the series and a long honeymoon for the 20-year-old driver after a maiden voyage to Victory Lane.
“Everything's calmed down,” Burton said when asked if the celebration had sunk in yet. “It was a really cool experience, but once we got back on the plane, on I think it was Saturday, it was kind of over for me. I was ready to get back in the (truck) and do it again. All my guys are pumped up. We've got the speed every week. Hopefully, we can go do it again this weekend.”
With his first victory in the books, Burton can now race without the burden of wondering when his breakthrough win will come. He had been close before his Texas triumph, starting up front week in and week out with superlative qualifying performances.
Burton started seventh in the season-opening race at Daytona. In the six races since, he’s clinched three pole positions and three third-place starts. Finally in Fort Worth, he found the race-long effort to match his qualifying prowess.
“It was definitely really good to get it done at Texas,” Burton said. “We should have won at Kansas and spun out. Charlotte, we had a loose wheel. Martinsville, we had stuff go wrong. So finally to put it together was definitely gratifying. We've got the speed every week. So hopefully we can keep doing it.”
The next stage for Burton will be Kentucky Speedway, a circuit where the rookie has never competed. His Turner Motorsports team opted to test there two weeks ago, and Burton found himself running comparable -- and sometimes better -- laps than series points leader Matt Crafton.
Although Kentucky shares similarities to Texas in length (1.5 miles) and layout, the Bluegrass State facility’s rougher surface will make the 225-mile race a unique challenge.
“We have a really, really good truck there. Pretty pumped up about it,” Burton said. “Like the race track. I like the bumps. It makes it a handful to drive, and I think it kind of puts it back in the driver's hands a little bit. So I'm excited to get there.”