- Last Updated on 12:22 PM 04/23/12
- BY Joe Chandler
After having competed in two Late Model Stock Car Division races at a nearby track, 17-year-old Jeb Burton of Halifax is preparing for his first Late Model start at South Boston Speedway. Burton announced yesterday he plans to compete in the NASCAR Late Model Stock Car Division here Saturday night in the USG Late Model 150 at South Boston Speedway.
A 150-lap race for the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car Division highlights Saturday’s four-race card at South Boston Speedway. Saturday’s event also includes races for the Limited Sportsman Division, Pure Stock Division and Southern Vintage Modified Division. The first race starts at 7 p.m.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” Burton said.
“I’ll be racing in front of my hometown crowd. We just need to take our time and be patient in the race. Hopefully we won’t get caught up in any accidents and can keep our nose clean. I want to get some respect from the other drivers and race them like I want to be raced and come away with a good top-five or top-ten finish.”
A top-five finish, Burton said, is his goal.
“I really want to finish in the top five,” Burton pointed out.
“That would be really cool. If I come away with a top-ten finish, I’m going to be a little disappointed. But, on the other hand, it would feel like a win. I’m going to be running with an entirely different class than I’ve been running. We ran with the best of the best (drivers) in Limited and I feel like at this time next year we’ll be running with the best of the best in Late Model.”
Burton and his father, former Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, had said earlier this season they planned to transition from Limited Sportsman Division racing to racing in the Late Model Stock Car Division at some point during the season.
The team is making that transition now, Ward Burton said, with another Late Model Stock Car coming from FDJ Motorsports and additional engines coming from engine builder Billy Banks.
Experience and resources, said Ward Burton, are the primary reasons for making the move at this point in the season. As far as experience goes, the younger Burton will get more seat time in the 150-lap races or twin 75-lap races that are the norm for the Late Model Stock Car Division races at most tracks as opposed to competing in 50-lap Limited Sportsman races.
“It takes the same amount of effort when you go to the racetrack, whether you run 200 laps or 50 laps,” Ward Burton explained.
“We need to let him get accustomed to driving cars that have got more horsepower. If you look at our resources, with Neil Perkins on board, Neil has got as much experience as anybody out there. We’re running Frank Deiny racecars. Frank’s got a lot of experience in Late Model Stock. All of our resources are (centered) around running Late Model Stock.
“Mainly,” he continued, “it’s just a matter of getting Jeb accustomed to driving a car that will be more similar to what he will be in when he moves up after Late Model. By staying in Limited, we weren’t going to get there (experience-wise) any quicker. It didn’t make any sense to continue to run Limited, particularly when the car we have is a Late Model and we have another brand new car and new motors coming. It just made sense to move up.”
The elder Burton explained that the reason he has purchased FDJ Motorsports cars from Deiny is that Deiny and his son have developed a good relationship.
“Frank and Jeb have a real good raphor,” he said.
“Frank is being a mentor to him. He (Deiny) will be with us all day tomorrow (Friday) at the racetrack. He will be with us Saturday. He will be spotting for Jeb Saturday night. Their raphor with Neil also being a resource is allowing Jeb to get the information he needs so that he doesn’t have to get it all from his father. It’s good because he’s learning skills he is going to be able to take with him out of this shop.”
The younger Burton has raced two races at the non-NASCAR Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, N.C. He won the pole for both races, erasing Maurice Hill’s longstanding track qualifying record in his second outing.
A mechanical problem derailed Burton’s first effort. Other issues in the second outing left him without the results he had hoped to see.
Burton said he hopes to see his son have a good night here in Saturday’s 150-lap race.
“In the big picture, are we ready to win races right this minute?” queried the elder Burton.
“Maybe not. But, I think he (Jeb) will be by the middle or the end of the summer.”