"The Big One" Collects Burton on the Final Lap at Talladega
In his track debut at Talladega Superspeedway, Jeb Burton received his sixth Keystone Light pole award of the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) season but was unable to pull the No. 4 Arrowhead/Kangaroo Express Chevrolet truck into victory lane after a frightening, multi-truck accident occurred on the final lap of the Fred's 250.
Following its final break of the season, the NCWTS headed to a place that's known for high-action drafting and shocking results: Talladega Superspeedway. Burton came into the weekend with little drafting experience, having competed in the same No. 4 truck chassis at Daytona International Speedway earlier this year where he scored a top-10 finish. During the weekend's only practice session, Burton and his Turner Scott Motorsports team used their time wisely, completing 29 laps and gaining valuable drafting experience with superspeedway veterans. Burton proved he was a solid contender when he placed his No. 4 Arrowhead/Kangaroo truck at the top of the speed charts during qualifying. This marked the 21-year-old Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate's sixth pole award of the season, placing him just one away from the current rookie pole award record set by Austin Dillon.
Starting from the inside, Burton led the field for Saturday's Fred's 250. His lead, however, was short lived as teammate James Buescher got a push from behind and claimed the front, placing Burton in third position. The first caution arose on lap nine for possible fluid on the track and crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. made the call for Burton to stay out. The No. 4 Arrowhead/Kangaroo Express truck continued to run in the top 10 as the second caution came out for debris on the track on lap 21. Hillman called the truck to pit road for a quick fuel-only stop, gaining Burton two spots in track position on the return. Running consistently thus far, Burton saw an opportunity to tandem with the No. 62 truck on lap 35, but unfortunately, the pair faced issues on the track, causing Burton to drop to 20th.
Several trucks made their way to pit road just before the track went yellow on lap 56. Back in the top 10, the No. 4 Chevy pitted under caution for four Goodyear tires and Sunoco fuel, returning to the track in 13th position. With such a heavy emphasis based on strategy at this track, Hillman called Burton back to pit road for a quick top-off of fuel on lap 58. The track was green for just seven laps before another accident arose in which Burton received damage to the left nose. Hillman called Burton to pit road, confirmed the damage was minimal, and gave the truck four new tires and fuel. Restarting in the 22nd position, Burton remained patient, and within eight laps another caution arose and the No. 4 truck barely got by the incident.
Running just outside the top 10 with 10 to go, the track went yellow again on lap 89 for an accident that occurred just behind the No. 4 truck. Hillman radioed for Burton to stay out but to save fuel accordingly. In true Talladega fashion, the remaining trucks braced for a wild finish as the track went green again. Working his way into sixth position, Burton was receiving a push from teammate Miguel Paludo when things took a turn for the worst, resulting in a frightening twelve-truck incident right before the finish line. After being evaluated and released from the Talladega infield care center, Burton was informed he finished 18th in the Fred's 250.
"We could've had it on that last lap but everyone was racing hard and unfortunately, things happen like that at this track," said Burton. "I'm just glad that everyone is ok and we were all able to walk away from that wreck. This type of incident just shows how much NASCAR has put into its safety initiatives for us drivers and I'm really thankful for that. I know that I definitely struggled with patience during the race and I learned a lot about this type of racing. I'm looking forward to getting to my favorite track, Martinsville, next weekend and hope we can get another pole and land this thing in victory lane."
Remaining fourth in the NCWTS Driver Points Standings, the South Boston, Virginia native heads to his home track of Martinsville Speedway next weekend for some short-track racing. The Kroger 200 will air live on Saturday, October 26 beginning at 2:00 p.m. EDT on FOX Sports 1.
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