Sponsorship woes leave Jeb Burton scrambling again for a NASCAR ride

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CHARLOTTE – For the second consecutive January, a sponsorship implosion suddenly has Jeb Burton scrambling for a NASCAR ride with only two weeks before the season.

A deal to keep him in a ThorSport Racing Toyota recently fell through for the Camping World Truck Series driver, who finished eighth in the 2014 points standings.

“We worked hard trying to return at ThorSport, and we just couldn’t get the details worked out,” Burton told MotorsportsTalk in a phone interview Wednesday morning. “So the result of that is I don’t have a ride right now for this race season. I have no clue what I’m going to do to get back on the racetrack.

The news comes exactly a year after sponsorship trouble knocked Burton from a ride with Turner Scott Motorsports.

“I looked on my calendar, and it’s actually the same day I was released (last year),” he said. “It’s been like a nightmare all over again.”

Burton landed with ThorSport a week later, and the part-time ride eventually grew into full time. His prospects seem bleaker this season.

“We’ve got a couple of people we’re talking to, trying to get something worked out so I can get on the racetrack, but at this time, I don’t have anything,” he said. “It’s so late in the game.”

The son of 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton and nephew of NASCAR winner/NBC Sports analyst Jeff Burton brings cachet with a well-known surname, and the South Boston, Va., native has produced results, too. He won at Texas Motor Speedway in April 2013 in the 12th start of his truck career, and he also captured seven pole positions in his rookie season.

He overcame a slow start last year and posted top fives in two of the final eight races.

I appreciate everything ThorSport did,” he said. “Last year in the same situation, they called and gave me an opportunity and a ride. … We got better throughout the year. I felt like if we’d had one more year, we could have been a top five-team every week.

“Hopefully everything happens for a reason. That’s what I keep telling myself. Hopefully a door will open up.”

Alex Marquez wins first MotoGP #StayAtHomeGP Virtual Race

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Alex Marquez of Spain won the inaugural MotoGP #StayAtHomeGP Virtual Race as the world’s premier bike racing series followed other motorsports into online racing.

The #StayAtHomeGP, which was streamed Sunday on several platforms including the Motorsports on NBC YouTube channel, featured a field of 10 riders competing on their console gaming systems at home.

Francesco Bagnaia was the runner-up, and Maverick Vinales rounded out the podium.

INDYCAR iRACING: Sage Karam wins Watkins Glen opener

Defending MotoGP premier series champion Marc Marquez, the older brother of the rookie race winner and his teammate at Repsol Honda Team, finished fifth.

Here’s a recap of the race from the MotoGP site.

The premier class of MotoGP has yet to hit the track this season as its opener was canceled and the next three races were postponed, including the Grand Prix of the Americas being moved from April 5 to Nov. 15.

Several other racing series have tried online racing in recent weeks.

IMSA held a “SuperSaturday at Sebring” March 21 in place of the postponed Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of SebringNASCAR started its Pro Invitational Series last Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway and will continue Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. IndyCar kicked off its six-race IndyCar iRacing Challenge with a Saturday race at Watkins Glen International that was won by Sage Karam.