Handling Issues Leave Burton with a 12th-Place Finish in his Pocono Raceway Debut
Making their return to pavement, Jeb Burton and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) headed north to tackle the Tricky Triangle of Pocono Raceway. Following a top-three finish in practice, qualifying was cancelled due to rain, placing Burton in third position on the starting grid for Saturday's Pocono Mountains 125. Throughout the race, Burton struggled with handling issues at the 2.5-mile track, but he and the No. 4 Arrowhead team fought to claim a 12th-place finish and remain second on the NCWTS Driver Point Standings leaderboard.
Although it was Burton's debut at Pocono Raceway, the Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) team came prepared with a truck that was very familiar with speed and success. Just a few months ago, TSM-220 brought Burton and the No. 4 Arrowhead team their first victory of the season and this weekend, they were hopeful for win number two. In the first and only practice session, Burton gained familiarity with the track and learned from his TSM teammates. Just as practice concluded, Burton laid down his fastest lap and climbed to third place on the speed chart, just three-tenths behind leader and TSM teammate Miguel Paludo. As rain moved in on Pocono Raceway, qualifying was cancelled and the field was lined up based on practice speeds per the NCWTS rulebook, placing Burton and the No. 4 team in third position as the green flag dropped.
The action started early with a caution on lap one due to an accident in Turn 1 as well as a race start penalty. Back to green, Burton quickly reported to crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. that his Arrowhead Chevy was way too lose and tough to handle. Hillman advised Burton to continue running laps until another yellow flag waved. Throughout a long green-flag run, Burton continued to fight the handling of his truck as he dropped out of the top 10 on lap 20. Burton hit pit road on lap 23 for a green-flag pit stop, and Hillman and the crew prepared to make changes to the No. 4 truck. Receiving four new tires, fuel and a few adjustments to tighten up the Chevy Silverado, Burton returned to the field in 19th position.
By lap 30, Burton was gaining a little more control of the truck but continued to report that it felt loose on entry. "Stay calm and patient because the final six to seven laps are most crucial," Hillman relayed to Burton. As the Arrowhead truck slowly gained track position, another caution flag waved due to debris in Turn 3 and the team saw an opportunity to pit for two right-side tires and a splash of fuel. With only four laps remaining, the No. 4 Chevy was one of the only trucks on the track with new tires, which gave Burton a perfect opportunity to gain a few more spots on the leaderboard before the conclusion of the race.
Just two laps later, another caution flag waved due to an accident on the restart. In their first attempt at a green/white/checkered finish, Burton climbed to 11th position and was creeping up on a top-ten finish as yet another caution arose. Following the second and final attempt at a green/white/checkered finish, Burton crossed the finish line in 12th position. Although disappointed in their finish, Burton and the No. 4 Arrowhead team managed to stay second highest in the NCWTS Point Standings.
Following the race, Hillman told the team, "We'll take this truck back, figure out what went wrong and we'll fix it. Trust me, we will fix it."
"I just couldn't find the handling in the truck today," said Burton. "I felt like I was all over the track and just couldn't get a grip. It happens though. Our team worked really hard today and we gave it all we could." Burton remained positive and congratulated TSM teammate Miguel Paludo on his second-place finish.
Trailing 52 points behind the current leader, Burton is looking for a comeback as the NCWTS heads to Michigan International Speedway following an off week. The National Guard 200 will air live on Fox Sports 1 (currently SPEED) at 12:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday, August 17.