After sponsorship fell through, Jeb Burton lands new NASCAR Trucks ride for Daytona

1 Comment

Less than a week ago, Jeb Burton experienced one of the harshest realities of NASCAR.

Just as he was preparing for his second full season on the Camping World Truck Series, Burton learned that primary sponsorship for his ride had fallen through.

Bye bye sponsorship, bye bye season, bye bye Turner Scott Motorsports.

Burton took to Twitter to express his emotion: “Really hard time for my team and my family. My future is unclear right now, but we’re doing everything we can to be on the track in 2014.”

But on Thursday, Burton also experienced some of the largesse within the NASCAR family when it was announced that ThorSport Racing had stepped up and offered Burton a ride in both the season-opening Camping World Truck Series and ARCA races in two weeks at Daytona International Speedway.

Burton, 21, the son of 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton and nephew of soon-to-be NASCAR on NBC TV analyst Jeff Burton, will drive the No. 13 Toyota for ThorSport in the trucks race.

And if things go well and additional sponsorship steps forward, Burton may wind up doing additional races for ThorSport, which won championships last season in both the trucks series (Matt Crafton) and ARCA (Frank Kimmel).

“The opportunity to come to ThorSport is a big deal for me, my career and my family,” Burton said. “It’s an honor to me that (team owners) Duke and Rhonda Thorson would make the call to put me in their vehicles — the best there is in both series.

“Mr. Thorson has proven his commitment to the Truck Series — he’s a racer, that’s what it’s all about and it feels good to be here. I feel like it’s a place where I can race, and win for many years.”

Burton, who finished fifth in the trucks standings for Turner Scott Motorsports last season, will be part of a three-driver ThorSport juggernaut including returning champ Crafton and Johnny Sauter, who finished one point and one spot ahead of Burton in last year’s standings.

Burton has been looked upon as one of the most promising young drivers in NASCAR today. He won his first race last June at Texas in only his 12th career start and earned an outstanding seven pole positions during the season. He also finished eighth in a one-off Nationwide Series start at Kentucky.

“I can’t tell you how great it is to get this deal done in a very short amount of time,” ThorSport team manager David Pepper said. “This gives us a great driver that can win both the Truck and ARCA races over the next couple weeks.

“We’ve had our eyes on Jeb the last few years and one thing that really stands out is how well he gets along with Matt and Johnny and the respect they have for each other. To have the opportunity to get Jeb into our ThorSport family of drivers is a great move for both parties.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen’s two-man battle in Motocross provides surprises

Rich Shepherd, ProMotocross
Leave a comment

The 2019 Motocross season is one-third in the books and the title battle may have already come down to a two-man contest, while the pair of contenders might just be a little surprising in their own way.

Strictly by the numbers, no one can count Eli Tomac’s early season charge of first- and second-place finishes shocking, but threepeating in Motocross is such an incredibly difficult feat that no one would have been surprised to see him struggle out of the gates either. And in fact, that is precisely what happened.

Tomac came out of the gates slow in Round 1 and was seventh by the end of Lap 1 of Moto 1 – hardly the auspicious start he hoped for. He rebounded only as far as fourth and that ultimately cost him a chance to win the overall. Tomac won Moto 2 to claim second overall.

In Round 2, Tomac found his rhythm and won both Motos and grabbed the red plate. For the moment, he had the momentum with three consecutive Moto wins.

Tomac stumbled again in Round 3 – this time finishing only fifth in Moto 1 and earning only 16 points to dig a deep hole that eventually surrendered the red plate to Ken Roczen.

It was at Thunder Valley in Round 3 that a pattern emerged. Tomac would not make it easy on himself early in the day, but was more than capable of winning the second Motos to overcome his deficit.

That Roczen has won this season is also not a surprise in itself. Many believed his ascent to the top step of the podium was way overdue.

That he has run so well, however, was not entirely expected at the start of the season. Since injuring both arms in a pair of accidents, Roczen came tantalizingly close to snapping his winless streak a dozen times. He won heat races during the Supercross season and finished second at Anaheim I, Minneapolis, Dallas, and Seattle earlier this year.

He just couldn’t secure the overall win.

Roczen’s Moto 1 victory at Hangtown might have been the precursor to another disappointing weekend, but once Tomac got into the lead, Roczen zeroed in on the Kawasaki’s back tire and finished second in route to the overall victory.

Roczen lost the overall and the red plate to Tomac in Round 2 at Pala, but he stood on the podium in both Motos. Roczen podiumed twice again in Round 3 while taking that overall victory to regain the red plate in what has become a seesaw affair in the early part of the 2019 season.

Last week, Roczen looked more like Tomac with his desperate struggle in Moto 1 and sixth-place finish. That was the first (and so far only) time this season that he failed to stand on the podium.

Roczen’s Moto 2 win last week was just enough to put him second overall with barely enough points to force a tie at the top of the leaderboard with 176 points apiece.

Meanwhile, Tomac failed to win either Moto with a third in the first race and runner-up finish in the second.

The moral victory and advantage may shift to Roczen this week.

As they have swapped the victory in the first four rounds with Roczen winning the odd-numbered events, he sees this weekend’s Round 5 as an opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to next weekend’s race,” Roczen said in a team press release. “The track is sandy. It’s very similar—actually almost identical—to what I ride on a regular basis at home.”

Tomac and Roczen enter Round 5 with a 32-point advantage over two riders tied for third in the standings.

So far Zach Osborne and Jason Anderson have not been in the same league as the leaders, but it only takes one slip of the wheel to fall out of the points in in a race and allow these racers to close the gap.

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter