- Last Updated on 05:55 PM 07/22/12
- BY Joe Chandler
Jeb Burton has long dreamed of the day when he could add his name to those of his uncle, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Burton, his father former Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton, and be among the list of drivers who have produced wins in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock Car Division at South Boston Speedway.
That day has finally come.
The 19-year-old Halifax resident added his name to the family circle at South Boston Speedway Saturday night with a dominant victory in the NASCAR Whelen Late Model 150.
“It feels really special,” Burton said.
“Right after I took the checkered flag, I started crying. I hope one day I can have a grandstand up there like Jeff and my dad. Hopefully we can keep on winning here.”
Burton’s win in the 150-lap event was every bit as emotional for his father.
“This means more than the races I’ve won,” the elder Burton remarked.
“I’m really happy it finally happened. It means a lot to me to see my son successful here. Jeff and I were awful lucky to have the support we had from mom and dad to make what we did possible. I’m trying to do the same for Jeb. We all do what we can for our children.”
Burton was the class of the field, leading 143 laps of the 150-lap race. Starting fourth, he needed only a handful of laps to get to the front, taking the lead from former South Boston Speedway and NASCAR National Champion Peyton Sellers of Danville on the eighth lap.
He held a commanding lead over second-place Josh Oakley of Rougemont, N.C. when the race’s only caution flag flew on lap 80 to allow track crews to remove a piece of debris in the fourth turn.
Three laps after the race resumed on lap 86, Burton was back in full control once again. With nothing to stop him over the final 64-lap green-flag run, Burton cruised across the finish line 2.601 seconds ahead of Oakley.
“It was a dream to drive,” Burton said of his car.
“Half of the race, I wasn’t even pushing it hard. I was trying to save my tires and ride. It feels good when the car does the work and I can just hold the wheel.”
The runner-up finish was Oakley’s best finish of the season at South Boston Speedway. He won the pole in qualifying, but fell back to sixth place after being jostled around in a battle with Sellers in the first two laps of the race.
He rallied to pass Sellers for second place on lap 58, but had to battle Sellers a second time after the race’s lone caution period. At the end, Oakley was almost five seconds head of Sellers, but had nothing for Burton.
“I had just had some bad circumstances the first couple of laps,” said Oakley, “but, that’s the way it goes sometimes. I fell back to sixth after that little deal with Peyton. I had to burn up my stuff too much to try to get back to second place. When I got there, I didn’t have anything left. I had pretty much burned my tires up.”
Sellers said Oakley simply got too far away for him to be able to rally to overtake him for the runner-up spot.
“I probably could have challenged Josh a little bit,” Sellers said, “but he got too far away. He was too good early on. I was a little better at the end. By lap times, I was a little quicker than he was the last 10 or 15 laps. He might have been riding, who knows. We’ve just got to be better.”
Track points leader Matt Bowling of Ridgeway finished fourth and Dennis Holdren of Roanoke rounded out the top five finishers.
Burton averaged 81.952 mph in the race that took 43 minutes and 54 seconds to complete. There were two lead changes among three drivers.