Jeff Burton

South Boston native Jeff Burton has a chance to race into next year’s NASCAR Hall of Fame.

NASCAR named the 52-year-old, who now lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, as a nominee to the 2021 class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Tuesday.

Burton began racing at his hometown track of South Boston Speedway in 1986, winning three times in the Late Model Stock Car division series.

He won one race at the track in 1987, followed by three more in 1988 before making the move to what is now known as the Xfinity series.

South Boston Speedway general manager Cathy Rice views Burton like one of her own children.

“Back in the 1980s my husband, Allen, and myself were part of his race team when he was racing in the NASCAR Late Model Stock Car Division at South Boston Speedway,” she said. “I have watched and followed him as he grew and progressed in NASCAR racing and am very proud of what he has done in and for the sport.”

Burton moved up to the Cup Series — the top level of NASCAR — in 1993. Throughout his career, Burton started 695 races, compiling 21 wins. Burton was the 1994 Cup Series rookie of the year and in 1999 won a career-high six races. He also was one of only 10 drivers to win 20 races in both the Cup Series and the Xfinity Series. Burton finished in the top five in Cup Series points from 1998-2001.

Retiring in 2014, he’s now an analyst for NASCAR on NBC.

“I am truly excited about Jeff being nominated for the NASCAR Hall Of Fame,” said Rice. “He accomplished a lot in NASCAR, not only behind the wheel as a driver but also behind the scenes with his work to help improve driver safety and his current work with television. He is a great representative and ambassador for the sport,” Rice said.

Burton is one of 10 nominees in the modern era ballot, along with notable names such as Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Neil Bonnett and fellow Virginia native Ricky Rudd. In a departure from the usual five being inducted from this ballot, only two of these 10 nominees will earn a spot in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

NASCAR also has five nominees from what’s known as a pioneer ballot, and one of those five will be inducted.

“To be nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame is a great honor,” Rice said. “We at South Boston Speedway join the people of South Boston and Halifax County in congratulating Jeff on his nomination.”

Voting for the NASCAR Hall of Fame usually takes place on the Wednesday before the Coca Cola 600 on Memorial Day weekend. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, there’s no word when the voting will be held, or if it will be conducted virtually.

Johnathan Kirland is a sports writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him Follow him on Twitter @JohnathanK_GV