Burton Defies the Odds and Fights Back in his Vegas Debut
Making his track debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS), Jeb Burton faced multiple challenges at the one-day NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) event. Although the No. 4 Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) team came prepared to battle with one of their best trucks, things took a turn for the worst when Burton made contact with the wall during the day's first practice session. Forced to bring out the backup truck, Burton used the final practice session to get comfortable with the new No. 4 Arrowhead/HONCHO Chevrolet and proved the team still had what it took when he qualified fourth for the Smith's 350. The TSM team, however, was immediately faced with handling issues from the start and struggled to diagnose the issue, despite multiple pit stops and adjustments. Fighting as hard as he could, Burton put the pedal to the metal and managed to cross the finish line in 12th place.
The No. 4 Arrowhead team unloaded chassis TSM-602 at the 1.5-mile oval track with hopes of continuing its recent success of pole awards and top-10 finishes. Just a few laps into the day's first practice session, however, Burton's truck got too tight between Turns 1 and 2 and forced him to hit the wall off of Turn 2. With damage to the front, the No. 4 team immediately rolled out TSM-220 as their backup truck and got to work. Having its fair share of success this year with one win and two Keystone Light pole awards, Burton and his team felt confident that this truck could perform just as good once it hit the track. The second practice session allowed Burton and his TSM team to make multiple adjustments and get comfortable with both the track and truck. Running eighth fastest in practice with only 31 laps of experience, the team was happy but not satisfied. Crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. made the call to swap the Hendrick engine before qualifying to ensure they came to battle with the best piece of equipment possible for the 1.5-mile oval track.
Qualifying the No. 4 Arrowhead/HONCHO truck in fourth position, Burton started the Smith's 350 from the inside of the second row. Within the first five laps, however, Burton reported a tight-handling condition and quickly dropped to the 16th position. Burton communicated to Hillman that something was definitely wrong with the truck but he couldn't put his finger on it. As the first caution flag waved on lap 15, the No. 4 truck came down pit road for four tires, fuel, a wedge adjustment and removal of the right-rear rubber. Reporting that the changes were decent but not enough, Burton remained in 18th position until the second caution of the night arose and the No. 4 truck came to pit road again for four new tires and fuel. Both frustrated, Hillman told Burton that he was a little lost at the moment and was trying everything he could to diagnose the issue. As the track went yellow again on lap 61, Hillman called Burton to pit road to inspect under the hood. Finding no issues, Hillman told the No. 4 team that they were changing it up and quickly ordered a track-bar adjustment.
Burton reported that the adjustments were positive but that he was still having handling issues in traffic. When another caution flag waved on lap 75, Burton visited pit road again and the No. 4 team made a right-rear wedge adjustment and gave the truck four new tires and fuel. Another positive change, Burton began to gain track position and had fought to 11th position before the track went yellow once again. Reporting that the truck was now a little loose, Hillman called Burton to pit road for two new tires and a few small adjustments in hopes of tightening the No. 4 truck up. By lap 96, Burton had climbed his way into the top-10,
With 20 laps to go, an anxious Burton told Hillman that he was ready to go as hard as he could to the finish. By lap 140, however, another caution arose, and despite a hard battle on the restart, the No. 4 Arrowhead/HONCHO truck lost five track positions, taking him to 11th. In a final two-lap shootout at LVMS, Burton scored a 12th-place finish in the Smith's 350 and remains fourth in the NCWTS Driver Point Standings.
"What a day," said Burton. "Something was weird with the truck all night and I think we tried just about everything in the book to fix it. I couldn't be prouder of my team though. Even though we're all frustrated, we took a backup truck, qualified good and raced the heck out of it for a 12th-place finish. I wish we could've gotten a single-digit finish since Talladega will be such a wildcard race, but I think we did everything we could tonight given the circumstances. I'm ready for the next five races."
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