In its first time on dirt in 43 years, NASCAR and the Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) hit historic Eldora Speedway for some high action, mud-slinging fun. With several of his Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) teammates having dirt-racing backgrounds, Jeb Burton looked to them for advice on mastering the unfamiliar 0.5-mile oval track. Making his dirt debut during Wednesday night's Inaugural Mudummer Classic, Burton and the No. 4 Arrowhead team aimed for consistency, patience and teamwork to get them through the wild event. The truck had decent speeds throughout practice sessions and Burton proved himself when he landed among the top-5 in qualifying. After wining his heat race, the No. 4 started the main event from the front and ran solid laps throughout the race. Despite suffering damage towards the end of the race, Burton and the No. 4 team walked away with a top-20 finish at their dirt track debut.
Early on, Burton used the practice sessions to gain familiarity and comfort with the slick track. With emotions high, the No. 4 team made multiple adjustments and ran a total of 195 practice laps in hopes of finding the perfect line to run for Wednesday night's race. Throughout the two-day event, the No. 4 crew chief, Mike Hillman Jr., stressed to Burton and his team that they would all learn together. Their hard work and patience paid off when Burton's Arrowhead Chevy qualified fifth fastest at Eldora Speedway, making him the fastest-qualifying rookie.
Starting first in the fifth and final qualifying heat race, the dirt-track rookie managed to lead all eight laps, placing the No. 4 truck on the third row of the starting grid for the final event. Burton told the No. 4 crew, "If you would've told me that we were going to come out here and win a heat race, I would've said you were crazy!" As the green flag dropped on the first segment of the Mudsummer Classic, a still shocked and happy Burton stayed high on the track and reported that the truck felt solid until it made contact with the wall just before the first caution came out. Taking the field into the first segment break, the No. 4 team repaired minimal damage to the right rear tire.
In the second segment, Burton was quick to report that he felt good and was finally getting the hang of the dirt. "You've got plenty of time," Hillman Jr. told Burton, "Stay patient out there." Running in 17th position as the second segment break approached, the No. 4 pitted for fuel, four tires and damage repair. As the green flag dropped on the final segment, Burton was unable to avoid a wreck and received significant damage to the nose of the truck. Remaining on the track under caution, Hillman Jr. and spotter Kevin Hamlin assured Burton that the damage did not affect his left-frontwheel.
With less than ten laps to go, two more cautions arose, forcing the field to race to an exciting green/white/checkered finish. Ending the historic night in 18th position, Burton and the No. 4 team were happy to cross the finish line in once piece and satisfied with their dirt debut.
"This has got to be the wildest, craziest thing I've ever done," said Burton. "There were a lot of ups and downs over the past two days, but qualifying well and winning a heat race just goes to show you that the No. 4 team can do anything we work towards."
Maintaining second in the NCWTS Driver Point Standings, Burton is looking forward to getting back to pavement racing. Next, the NCWTS will head to Pocono Raceway for some racing at the Tricky Triangle. The Pocono Mountains 125 will air live on SPEED at 1:00 p.m. EDT on August 3.