Jeb Burton's hoping his winning legacy at Texas Motor Speedway carries over for a second year -- to the benefit of his No. 13 Estes Toyota Tundra team -- in Friday's 18th annual WinStar World Casino & Resort 400.
A year ago Burton tamed the bumpy, fast 1.5-mile oval by winning the June event in only his 12th career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start. Burton came back in the fall in a battle to remain in the top-five in the Truck Series' standings and won his seventh Keystone Light Pole Award of the season.
But there's an even bigger reason ThorSport Racing's youngest driver is stoked to fly south. Last week, prior to heading to Burton's fifth race with ThorSport, the team announced a full-season primary sponsorship with Estes Express Lines, a far-reaching transportation company.
"It means a lot for ThorSport Racing to sign the deal with Estes Express Lines, a Virginia company with an international reach, and for my team not to have to worry about being able to get to the racetrack every week," Burton said this week. "I really appreciate the commitment Mr. and Mrs. Thorson (ThorSport owners Duke and Rhonda Thorson) made to me and my family and it's great to have Estes come on board.
"It's nice to have that side of the program worked out and we're excited for the future and the potential of winning our first race, with Estes."
That certainly could happen at Texas, if last year's debut performances mean anything.
"It's a special feeling to come back to Texas, a race that I won last year," Burton said. "And when I came back in November I won the pole -- so I've been in Victory Lane for both of my Texas races, one way or the other.
"Texas has been a good track for me and hopefully we can carry some of the momentum we've been building this season and maybe get a win at Texas. We had a great truck at Charlotte before it got wrecked on the last lap while we were racing for third so there's no reason we can't contend on Friday because we only have five races together and we've been getting better every week."
Burton's Tundra got wiped out in Charlotte when he and a competitor ran up on a laps-down truck on the last lap. That Toyota has been rebuilt in little more than two weeks and it's Burton's Texas backup.
At Dover, with as big a crowd of Estes guests on hand as the team expects to entertain in Texas, a broken wheel 21 minutes into Happy Hour practice wiped out another Tundra. But Burton looks at the performance his team's been able to induce out of their Toyotas as all he needs to latch onto.
"To score my first win at Texas last year was pretty exciting," Burton said. "To do the same thing this season with ThorSport, we just have to keep showing the same improvement we have in the first five races this season, and maybe we'll get a win, soon.
"Jeriod (Prince, crew chief) and the guys have been bringing great Toyota Tundras to the racetrack and -- it was a tough break at Dover that a wheel failure cost us our primary truck and we had to race our Texas Tundra -- but we know it's a good piece."
Burton's counting on that to enable him to move forward from the ninth position in points, which he fell to following an 18th-place finish after another wheel failed in the race -- thankfully without drastic consequences.