Teenager from recognizable NASCAR family set to race at Ace
Notes from the speedway
April 22, 2011 12:26 AM
Adam Smith / Times-News
ALTAMAHAW — Jeb Burton and his race team showed up at Ace Speedway earlier this week for what became a five-hour test session.
The 18-year-old driver from the recognizable NASCAR family used his first laps ever at the track to break in a new Late Models car.
It was an initial visit that generated plenty of confidence in tandem with the valuable practice time.
“The car was way off when we got there but when we left we felt like we’ve got a shot to win with it,” Burton said. “We’re pretty pumped up. It was really fast.”
The son of former Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, who also happens to be the nephew of current Sprint Cup Series respected veteran Jeff Burton, plans to make his competitive debut at Ace in tonight’s 100-lap featured event.
Jeb Burton has cut his racing teeth for three years at South Boston (Va.) Speedway, a tough bullring near his Halifax, Va., home.
This trip to Ace is one piece of a venturing-out plan that’s designed for him to visit a handful of grassroots tracks across the region — weekly speedways such as Caraway, Concord, Hickory and Motor Mile in addition to Ace.
“We decided that it would be better for me to run a lot of different tracks,” Burton said. “We’re just looking forward to running and having fun instead of scratching our head at South Boston.
“That’s a hard little race track. If you miss it a little bit, it’s a lot.”
Burton graduated to Late Models last season and placed 11th in South Boston’s final standings while operating on a partial schedule.
He finished third in this year’s season opener at South Boston before a mechanical failure and a qualifying crash crippled his next two performances.
“We’ve just had a lot of bad luck,” he said.
Burton said his father, who posted five victories on NASCAR’s most elite level, will be on hand in his camp tonight at Ace. He said his dad is quite involved but not overbearing with his developing racing career.
Burton fondly recalls spending weekends with his father and uncle at various venues on the Cup circuit. He was 9 when his dad seized the most cherished of moments and won the 2002 Daytona 500.
“He won the biggest race there is to win in the world,” Burton said.
That launched an unforgettable celebration that included a whirlwind tour of appearances and media obligations.
“The next week we were in New York,” Burton said. “I missed a whole week of school.”