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Burton Settles for an 11th-Place Finish in his Phoenix Debut

In his track debut at Phoenix International Raceway, Jeb Burton showed improvement as he learned the ins and outs of the track, but trouble in his qualifying effort left the 21-year old rookie in the 24th position for the start of the Lucas Oil 150.

 

Following a tough finish at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend, Burton and his No. 4 Turner Scott Motorsports team came prepared and even more motivated to finish the season on the right foot. Relying on his crew, teammates and footage from last year's NSCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) race at Phoenix, Burton hit the track for 24 laps during the weekend's first practice session. After getting acquainted with the 1.0-mile loop, Burton and his team made several adjustments to the No. 4 truck before becoming fourth fastest on the speed charts in the final practice session. In his qualifying effort, however, the young driver struggled with handling issues, which placed him in the 24th position for the start of Friday night's race.

 

As the green flag dropped for the Lucas Oil 150, the track quickly went yellow after a spin occurred on the first lap. Burton gained several track positions on the restart before reporting to crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. that his Arrowhead Chevrolet was free on entry. Continuing to make passes, spotter Kevin Hamlin told Burton that he noticed his struggle on entry, but other than that, he was running extremely smooth. Under the second caution, Burton came to pit road and gained eight spots after receiving two right-side tires and fuel. Restarting from the seventh position, Burton battled to gain position, but ultimately settled in eighth for a long green-flag run.

 

Burton, dominating Turns 3 and 4 but still struggling on entry, made his way back to pit road when the track went yellow on lap 87. While other competitors took only two tires, Hillman called for four new Goodyear tires along with fuel, which placed Burton in the 10th position on the restart. Settling into the eighth position once again after another caution, the No. 4 truck faced loose-handling conditions for the duration of the night. After a final caution left the field with a 10-lap race to the finish line, Burton and two competitors went three-wide, causing the No. 4 truck to drop track position with just two laps remaining. Although the rookie driver hoped for a single digit finish in his track debut, Burton ended the night in 11th place as the checkered flag waved.

 

"We'll take an 11th-place finish tonight but we should've ended in eighth," said a discouraged Burton. "The restarts at the end killed us and when we went three-wide, I had to either give up track position or go into the wall. Overall, it was a solid points night for us though. We'll try to hang on to it next week in Miami and finish this season off right. Next year will be a whole new ballgame for our team."

 

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Steven B. Wilson

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