Ace-ing the field: Burton handles every challenge in Late Models victory
Adam Smith / Times-News
ALTAMAHAW — He emerged as the quickest in qualifying.
He led every lap of the main event.
And he conquered every potentially derailing restart that blocked his path.
Statistically, Jeb Burton made delivering victory seem almost like a simple proposition in Friday night’s 100-lap Late Models feature at Ace Speedway.
“It might’ve looked easy,” he said, moments after being doused with water in a Victory Lane celebration. “But I was definitely working for it.”
The 19-year-old from Halifax, Va., and son of former Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton converted his fourth appearance of the season here into his second victory.
This time, with Ace returning from a hiatus due back-to-back rainouts, Jeb Burton zapped every possible pitfall as streaks of lightning flickered in the distance beyond the backstretch stands.
During the race’s middle portion, when Jeff McCrary’s slower No. 60 car suddenly spun while exiting turn four, Burton reacted in a flash to avoid danger, squeezing his No. 27 Chevrolet through an opening near the concrete outside wall.
Down the stretch, Burton repelled runner-up Dustin Rumley during a decisive series of three consecutive double-file restarts.
Rumley’s No. 88 Chevrolet opted for the higher, outside line each time — with 16, 15 and then 12 laps remaining.
And each time, Burton, who debuted in the NASCAR trucks series this year, proved up to the task.
“It feels good to be back here at Ace and getting me another trophy, man,” he said. “The car just wasn’t exactly how it has been in the past. We could’ve really killed them if the car would’ve been liked I wanted it to.”
McLeansville’s Rumley, fighting a fading car, placed second and leapfrogged Barry Beggarly for the points lead in the process.
Rumley changed his driving angle through turns three and four as the laps wound down and chose to challenge Burton’s outside on each of the late-race restarts.
So in essence, Rumley tried nearly every tactic in attempting to overtake Burton.
Except for roughing him up.
“Well, I thought about putting the bumper to him,” Rumley said. “But I don’t like to race that way.
“Really, honestly, if the race had stayed green, I probably would’ve fell on back. The car was getting worse and worse as it went on.”
Burlington’s Dean Fogleman finished third, followed by Reidsville’s Rodney Cook in fourth and Kernersville’s Brad Kurth in fifth.
Beggarly, the four-time champion who entered Friday night as the points leader, made it only one-tenth of the main event’s distance.
An engine problem knocked out his No. 82 Chevrolet on the 11th lap. He was running in fourth position and ultimately finished last among the 13-car field.
An engine issue also crippled Ryan Robertson’s No. 31 Chevrolet after 59 laps. He too ran in the top five before being forced to park his car in the pits.