Jeb Burton aims for strong sophomore season
January 13, 2014, Zack Albert, NASCAR.com
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- No one was in a huge hurry to get out on the track Monday morning in NASCAR Preseason Thunder testing, but Jeb Burton made a point to be out first.
"It's something I like to do when I get here. I'm ready to go," the 21-year-old driver said. "That's kind of the reason we come here, to get things done and get to rolling. If we can be first on the race track, it says that we're really prepared and we're ready to go."
How well Burton's eagerness translates to success in his sophomore season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series isn't certain, but if success is at least some parts attitude, Burton may have a jump on 2014.
Burton was an upstart championship contender as a rookie last season, guiding the No. 4 Turner Scott Motorsports operation to a high-water mark of second place in the points standings before gradually fading to a fifth-place finish. For the upcoming season, Burton has another year to jell with his team; the familiarity he gained with the tracks on the 22-race schedule doesn't hurt, either.
"The only thing I'm going to miss about being a rookie is the extra set of tires you get for practice," Burton said. "That was nice. Other than that, it's cool to be a veteran out there, I'll say. I'm excited. I'll have experience at all the race tracks besides two of them we go to, so that's going to help me a lot.
"I'm pumped up, my team is pumped up. I feel like I've matured and got better, and I feel like our team is getting better every day, and we've just got to do the right things this year and not shoot ourselves in the foot and go do our deal, and I think we'll win a championship."
Burton showed speed early on in the first of two days of Preseason Thunder testing for the truck tour, which debuts a new body style this season. Burton and new Turner Scott teammate Ben Kennedy were the first to lock together in a draft, pushing their two Chevrolets to the top of the speed charts in the morning session. Burton went on to top the charts in the afternoon session.
With the new truck bodies making their official on-track debut at Daytona in less than six weeks, preparation and the ability to adjust to change may be even more crucial to winning races this season. Again, Burton sees the potential in his group for another head-start.
"It seems like Turner Scott Motorsports is always ahead of the ballgame with new stuff," Burton said. "I'm excited. I think it could be an advantage for us. I feel like our guys are working really hard with this new body style in the wind tunnel and testing a lot trying to make it better."
While Burton has been candid about his aspirations of climbing the NASCAR ladder, he said his focus remains on performance -- especially with the rise of budding young talent in the truck series. Being first on the track in preseason testing is one thing, but Burton also is aiming for being first at season's end.
"I'm still trying to compete for a job," Burton said. "I've got to go perform and make my sponsors happy and my team happy so I can get to the next level. That's the goal next year. I want to go full-time Nationwide, and I feel like I've got a good opportunity here and I need to go win a bunch of races, and I feel like if we can do that it'll help my case."