Jeb Burton makes mark for racing family
June 08, 2013, Kristen Boghosian, NASCAR.com
FORT WORTH, Texas -- When he came into the media center after qualifying at Texas, Jeb Burton was disappointed he hadn't won the pole -- one that would have made his fourth in six weeks. Instead, the rookie went home with his first career win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at the WinStar World Casino 400.
Burton, the fourth rookie to win at Texas Motor Speedway, held off Ty Dillon as the two raced past the white flag, edging him by .139 seconds as they crossed the start/finish line.
It was a crowded pit box for for the No. 4 Arrowhead Chevrolet, with Jeb's parents and brother cheering him on. Burton's father, Ward Burton, the 2002 Daytona 500 winner, was on hand, too, offering pace car rides while his son signed autographs and acting as a spotter during the race.
Jeb, who expressed as much emotion with his first pole win, wiped away tears in Victory Lane as he thanked his team. Both Burtons continually expressed their gratitude at the chance to let Jeb's talent loose on the track after a 2012 season cut short by sponsorship issues.
"I watched this race on the couch last year, and I knew I could run with them guys -- I just didn't have the money to do it," Jeb said. "… My whole racing career I've missed a little bit, of the having the equipment and the guys like Mike."
Watching his son have it all -- except, perhaps, experience -- his father recalled Jeb's win as "the most special moment in motor sports" he'd ever experienced.
"As a father, I was stressed, to say it mildly, that I couldn't provide the opportunity for my son," Ward said of last season, when his son was done racing at Dover. "We worked really hard from there to get back here, and we're just so thankful for Arrowhead for coming on board, because without that kind of support a young man like Jeb doesn't get that opportunity."
The 20-year-old isn't the first Burton to leave his mark on the track. His uncle, Jeff Burton, won the inaugural Sprint Cup race at the track in 1997. And, in case he doesn't have enough racing inspiration in his own family, he has an additional brother figure in crew chief Mike Hillman Jr.
"We have a really cool relationship -- I kind of treat him like a little brother, pat him on the back when he needs it, but I punch him in the arm when he needs it, too," Hillman said after getting his sixth win at Texas as a crew chief.
Jeb Burton also became part of the 2013 family of drivers in the NASCAR Next program on Friday, meaning he'll have NASCAR's support as he continues to make a name for himself in the sport. His fellow classmate, Michael Self, joined Burton to prove the promise of the class, winning the K&N Series race Friday night in Iowa.
As if that weren't enough for a Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender in his 12th career start, the Virginia native is off the hook for buying his mother, Tabitha, a birthday present tomorrow, handing her his first NASCAR national series checkered flag.