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Kickin The Tires

Jeb Burton scores career best Xfinity finish at Talladega

Photo by NKP / NKP Photo

By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer

Although Jeb Burton scored his career best NASCAR Xfinity Series finish, he came within half a lap of an elusive first win.

The JR Motorsports driver took the lead on the final restart from fellow Chevy Racing driver Justin Haley. The No. 8 LS Tractor Chevrolet Camaro SS surged forward with a push from Austin Cindric’s No. 22. Burton held the inside line until he had to side-draft Haley in an attempt to keep the Kaulig Racing driver at bay.

The lead swung back and forth between Burton and Haley throughout the final three laps. The Halifax, VA native appeared to have the checkered flag insight, until the final run down the backstretch. With a push from his Kaulig Racing teammates, Haley took the lead in turn three and never looked back.

Burton then side drafted Kaulig’s Ross Chastain. His attempt to hold on to second was in vain. As the duo crossed the line side-by-side at the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway, Burton was third in the running order for the Unhinged 300.

“That last caution we were sitting in a good spot,” explained Burton. “We had the lead and were controlling the pace when the caution came out. That last restart, I thought that the 21 was in front of the 10. They were at the red flag. When we came back around, I took the bottom to put the 22 behind me, and then the teammates were lined up.

“They had switched positions, so that was a little frustrating. I would have definitely put Chastain behind me. He probably would have pushed me to the win, but hindsight is 20-20.”

In the first two quiet stages, Burton moved up through the hornet’s nest. He started from the rear after his No. 8 failed pre-race technical inspection three times. At the end of the second stage he was running seventh.

Burton avoided much of the chaos throughout the final stage. He was ahead of all three incidents, including one that ended his cousin, Harrison Burton’s top-10 streak. Burton was the only JR Motorsports Chevrolet to go incident free in the 300-mile race. He was leading when the final caution waved.

The third-place finish is the best finish in Burton’s Xfinity Series career. His previous best, fourth (twice) came at Daytona International Speedway with JGL Racing and Indianapolis Motor Speedway with JR Motorsports.

“We’ve been in position to win every race,” admitted Burton. “We’re going to get us a win soon. I’m frustrated, I want to win for myself and all of my partners. Today wasn’t the day.”

It is Burton’s fourth career top-five finish in the Xfinity Series. Three of those have come with JR Motorsports. Seven of Burton’s top-10s have also come with the Dale Earnhardt Jr. owned team.

“Every time I get behind the wheel, I treat it like it’s my last one,” stated Burton. “Without the partners that I have behind me I wouldn’t be at JR Motorsports. I’m really blessed for the opportunity. We’ve ran nine times with JRM total and had a shot to win a bunch of races. They’ve found some speed at the mile and a half’s, so that’s exciting.

“I don’t know about my future. I play every year by ear and I have a great home at JR Motorsports. We could run for a championship if we had the funding. I’m just keeping my head down, seeing whatever comes our way, every opportunity.”

Burton’s next scheduled race is on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 4.

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