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Jeb Burton lands XFINITY ride with RPM
Jeb Burton , son of former Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton , will compete full time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series this season for Richard Petty Motorsports, according to a team release. Burton , 23, will pilot the No. 43 Ford for the organization. RPM also fields a pair of entries in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, the No. 43 with driver Aric Almirola and the No. 44 with Brian Scott . Burton competed last season in the Sprint Cup Series, making 28 starts for BK Racing . He has only two previous XFINITY Series starts along with 50 starts in the Camping World Truck Series. "When you think NASCAR, you think Richard Petty, and I'm really looking forward to continuing their winning tradition and contributing to the legacy that is Richard Petty," Burton said. Veteran Drew Blickensderfer will handle crew chief duties for the team. Blickensderfer, a former Sprint Cup crew chief, worked with former RPM drivers Marcos Ambrose and Sam Hornish Jr . He was crew chief for Matt Kenseth in 2009 at Roush Fenway Racing when that team opened the season with back-to-back wins in the Daytona 500 and Auto Club 500. A third win came in 2011 with driver David Ragan , in July at Daytona. Burton's father Ward won five times in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and finished in the top 10 in points twice. Jeff Burton , Jeb’s uncle, is also a former winner in the series and currently serves as a race analyst for NBC Sports. "We have worked with Jeb on a few opportunities over the past couple of years, and they just didn't fall into place," Brian Moffitt, Chief Executive Officer at Richard Petty Motorsports , said. "We feel Jeb is an extremely talented young driver, and I'm happy we have him in our organization. "He's proven he can win races and compete at a high level in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and we believe he can do the same in the NASCAR XFINITY Series."
BK Racing unveils Jeb Burton throwback, driver swap
MORE: Burton discusses throwback scheme and more on "Dirty Air Podcast" When Jeb Burton decided to join the wave of throwback paint schemes for Labor Day weekend at Darlington Raceway , he didn't have far to look for inspiration. BK Racing announced Tuesday that Burton's BK Racing entry for the 66th running of the Bojangles' Southern 500 will pay tribute to the career of his father, Ward Burton , a two-time winner at NASCAR's oldest superspeedway. But the tradition-rich race will also feature another notable switch: The Ron Devine-owned team also announced Tuesday that it will make an intrateam driver swap starting at Darlington, with Burton taking over the No. 23 Toyota from J.J. Yeley, who will drive the No. 26 Toyota. RELATED: See all the throwback looks for Darlington The change in driving duties puts the younger Burton that much closer numbers-wise to the Bill Davis Racing No. 22 that his father campaigned during his heyday from 1999-2003. The yellow-and-black paint scheme for team sponsor Estes Trucking -- with its similar corporate colors to his father's longtime sponsor Caterpillar -- leans heavily on his family's racing tradition. "I saw all the throwback stuff and Estes has the same colors as Dad had, so I just thought about the idea and I got the PR team to come up with a design," Jeb Burton said. "I saw it and I thought it'd be a cool idea so we went on with it." Ward Burton caught his first glimpse of the car's vintage look ahead of last weekend's race at Bristol Motor Speedway . The resemblance -- both in colors and its similarly styled numbers -- is uncanny. "It's really cool," the 53-year-old Burton said. "We had a lot of success at Darlington, but more importantly I really appreciate Jeb thinking about me." Ward Burton flew the Caterpillar flag for his most prominent wins in NASCAR's premier series, foremost among them the 2002 Daytona 500 . The yellow-and-black look was also front and center for Burton and crew chief Tommy Baldwin Jr. when the Davis-owned team found a sweet spot at Darlington, yielding two victories at the 1.366-mile track, including the 2001 Southern 500. "Tommy and I'd hit a set-up at Darlington. For about three years there, we were on the top of the board whenever we showed up," Burton said. "Rain got us twice, a wreck got us one other time, a lug nut got us another, but we had the car to beat many times. I liked that place ever since I went there." Jeb Burton , 23, hopes the knack for the "Lady in Black" doesn't skip a generation as he prepares for his first Darlington start. His uncle, Jeff Burton , also won twice at Darlington, sweeping the season's two events there in 1999. The younger Burton got his first taste of driving the treacherous egg-shaped oval in an open test for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series on June 10. "Darlington is its own animal," Burton said. "We went there and tested, and I struggled a little bit and was running the track a little wrong. Right there at the end of the session, I got behind Joey Logano and learned a lot, followed him and actually kept up with him. I thought that was really good, and our team did their best." BK Racing aims to jump-start its performance with next weekend's driver shakeup. Burton's Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidacy has been a rocky path thus far, with the No. 26 missing seven races and cracking the top 30 just twice this season. He ranks 39th in the driver standings. Yeley has run 23 of 24 in the Sprint Cup Series this season but is eligible for championship points only in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. (The team made a driver switch at Richmond with Burton in the No. 23 instead of Yeley.) The No. 23 team stands 39th in the car owner points; BK's No. 26 sits 44th after Bristol. Patrick Donahue will remain the crew chief on the No. 26 team, while Joe Williams will remain the crew chief on the No. 23 team. It's all been a learning process for Burton , who made the jump to Sprint Cup this year after two solid seasons in the Camping World Truck Series. "Coming into it, I didn't think it'd be as tough as it was because I had somewhat success," Burton said, "but in the Truck Series and the ( XFINITY ) Series, the competition level is high up front, but it's … one through 43 in the Cup Series is the best of the best. The best people, the best drivers, the best teams. You've got to be on it and our guys are working hard as a low-budget team. We're getting better every week."
Ward Burton rides emotional tide with son Jeb
Ward Burton : 'Jeb's character is intact'
Lack of sponsorship derails Jeb Burton's 2015 plans
Driver tweets that he currently does not have truck program for this season Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live It's a different season, but it's a problem that is becoming all too familiar for Jeb Burton . On Wednesday, Burton tweeted out that he didn't have a truck program for the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series because of a lack of sponsorship. Due to a lack of sponsorship,I do not have a truck program for this year. I will continue to do everything in my power to fulfill my dream! — Jeb Burton (@JebBurtonRacing) January 28, 2015 Burton , the son of 2002 Daytona 500 champion Ward Burton , spent the 2014 season with ThorSport Racing. The 22-year-old placed eighth in the standings with two top-fives and seven top-10s. This time last year, Burton was in a similar spot when Turner Scott Motorsports, Burton's racing home for his rookie campaign of 2013, announced the sponsor of the No. 4 truck had defaulted on payments and the truck would not run full-time. About a week later, Burton and ThorSport Racing worked out a deal that initially was race-by-race but by May was announced as full-season. In his rookie season, Burton won the June race at Texas Motor Speedway and tallied seven poles, five top-fives and 11 top-10s en route to a fifth-place finish in the final standings. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Ward Burton on son's first NCWTS win
A joyful Ward Burton comments on his son picking up his first NCWTS victory at Texas.
NASCAR Illustrated - Growing Up NASCAR: Burton
Paige, Harrison Burton look back on childhood in the infield
Burton to continue with ThorSport at Martinsville
Jeb Burton still trying to piece together full-time ride after TSM fallout
Mobil 1 Driver Of The Race: Jeb Burton
Follow Jeb Burton on his journey to his first career NCWTS victory at Texas making him this week's Mobil 1 Driver Of The Race.
Cain: Remembering Steve Byrnes one year later
Karen Goins-Byrnes certainly wasn't anticipating this autograph request as she and her teenage son Bryson walked out of the Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway infield before last Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the track. It wasn't so much "the ask" she received but the canvas she was offered that really stood out. A race fan asked them to sign a flag right next to the signature of her late husband and Bryson's father, Steve, a NASCAR on FOX broadcaster who died on this day, April 21, one year ago after a courageous and well-fought battle with cancer. "You know that on Father's Day and Christmas and Steve's birthday (just last week) those moments are going to be intense, emotional and sad, but then there's these other moments that you completely do not expect that suddenly take your breath away, like the flag on Sunday," Karen Goins-Byrnes shared this week. "I just wasn't expecting that, and all of a sudden it made you realize, 'Oh my goodness, this person is gone from our life.' "I was walking with Bryson and had not anticipated that when we looked down at this flag, wow, there was his signature. And it was just surreal knowing that at some point he had touched that same piece of material; now we we're touching it. Steve's touched everything in this house, so I don't know why that hit me so hard but it was … I don't know, it was out-of-context, unexpected. "I don't think it was a coincidence. It was very impactful for Bryson and I both to see that." RELATED: Steve Byrnes remembered, 1959-2015 In the past year, the Byrnes family has been "adopted" by those close to Steve and also those who never met the longtime NASCAR broadcaster but were touched by his story of courage and strength battling cancer not once but twice. In the time since he passed away Byrnes, then 56, has been honored at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and received the prestigious Squier-Hall Award for media excellence. His likeness and another tribute hang on a large plaque at the Charlotte FOX studios. "Steve was not a person who sought out a lot of attention, he was not the look-at-me type of person," Goins-Byrnes said. "I know he's up in heaven going, 'I had no idea.' He is completely surprised at all the different things that have happened to remember him and honor him. I'm shocked, I know he's shocked too." Drivers, fellow broadcasters and FOX personnel have joined the broader NASCAR community supporting this family in ways both obvious and subtle. Their "new" way of life is still so greatly influenced by the one they miss so dearly. "We're persevering," Goins-Byrnes said, after pausing to select the most accurate description. She and her son don't know quite what to anticipate today -- their feelings and emotions. It will be a very busy schedule of things to do and that was purposeful. On Wednesday, she and Bryson attended a luncheon hosted by FOX Sports in Charlotte, where they posed for photos alongside close family friends Michael Waltrip and Larry McReynolds. There is a wonderful shot of Bryson standing next to a memorial for his father on the studio's wall. Goins-Byrnes, who is now doing part-time work for Charlotte-based Speedway Motorsports Inc., has a professional commitment for part of the day Thursday and will be escorting champion NHRA racer Erica Enders to a Speedway Children's Charities event at Charlotte's Levine Children's Hospital. "It just happened to be the day she's available," Goins-Byrnes said of the timing. "It was funny, when Erica said the 21st, I was like that's the day, but I decided that's the way it's supposed to be, then. Every single month on the 21st will never be just another day for me. Every 21st of the month, I know it's been nine months, 10 months, 11 months. "But honestly, I feel like not continuing to live dishonors Steve. Somebody was asking me about Bryson and I doing a lot of activities. I feel like if we had stopped doing things, that would have dishonored him (Steve). Living and doing things honors him. I certainly know he would not have wanted us to say, 'Oh, I can't do something because it was the 21st of the month.' He would have scolded us and said, 'It's just a date; go and do.' " And actually, Goins-Byrnes concedes, it's the times alone or void of activity that have been most challenging. "People will say, 'It looks like ya'll are doing well, doing good.' But I don't post on social media when we're lying on the floor crying," she said. "There are days that are gut-wrenching and those days you have to keep pushing through, pushing on." Pushing on for Bryson Byrnes has been quite literal. His days, nights and most weekends are filled with sports -- football and lacrosse are favorites. And Bryson isn't only succeeding on the field -- he was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society this week. "People talk about what an amazing young man he is, and I'll be honest," Goins-Byrnes said adding with a laugh. "He makes straight-As and Steve and I never did that in school. Steve and I used to look at his report cards and go, 'Wow. This must be the nurture part,' because the nature part, we're not responsible for this level of achievement. I can promise you. "We have been blessed with a really good kid. I think God knew what path he was going to ask us to walk and so he gave us a child that was well-equipped." "He still battles, sometimes, the unexpected moments," she said, pausing. "You just hadn't anticipated that even if it's a good thing, it's void of Steve being here." As Goins-Byrnes and I were saying our goodbyes we discussed the cancer battles so deeply affecting so many in NASCAR -- family members and extended family. We weren't sure if it was unusually prevalent among our sport or if circumstances made us more aware. Driver Martin Truex Jr .'s longtime girlfriend, Sherry Pollex, finished up her chemotherapy in January, and remains such a positive force travelling around the country to educate others and bring awareness of ovarian cancer. The couple's Catwalk for a Cause event next month -- which raises money for childhood cancers -- is sold out again this year. While the potential for raising funds is high, it will be the most difficult of programs considering four of last year's models and inspirations have passed away -- a first for Truex and Pollex. Among them is my longtime friend Becky's son, Elijah Aschbrenner, 10, who fought a rare Epitheliod Sarcoma diagnosis and passed away on Nov. 11. His family has started the Prayers for Elijah Foundation to raise money and awareness of the disease. RELATED: Cain: Gratitude for Elijah Aschbrenner's inspiration Torie Costa, Scott Zipadelli’s 20-year old step-daughter, died on Christmas day on her second fight with Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma. Grace, 14, passed away after fighting Osteosarcoma. Clint Bowyer 's wife, Lorra, carried an inspirational sign for her at last year's Catwalk because she was too ill to participate. Jeramiah, 8, passed away after battling leukemia, not once but twice. His passing in August was the first of Truex and Pollex's "Catwalk" kids. The great Buddy Baker died in August after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Erik Jones shared last Saturday after his XFINITY Series win at Bristol that his father was recently diagnosed with cancer. Tabitha Burton , Daytona 500 winner Ward ’s wife and XFINITY Series racer Jeb's mom, was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and is recovering from the surgeries and treatment. Former NASCAR racer Shawna Robinson continues to recover from her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment as well. And I'm still fighting breast cancer myself, with multiple surgeries ahead this year. My hair is -- slowly -- growing, I've regained the weight I lost in chemo and radiation, and many of the NASCAR drivers I deal with now are completely unaware of my medical situation -- which can feel like an achievement. Those that do know have been incredibly kind and encouraging. Cancer is, at the very least, a maddening disease, and its impact on NASCAR is similar to its impact in general. We have lost influential souls such as Byrnes and Baker and the promises of so many so young, like Aschbrenner and Costa. Perhaps the brightest and most lasting legacy left by my friend Byrnes was a feeling of "never give up," and the firm knowledge that this is a community that cares greatly and perpetually. Today will be challenging for the Byrnes family and all those who cared deeply for Steve. There will be times of sadness, of laughter, of gratitude for the time shared, and unquestionably a sense of knowing that he would want us to carry on and prevail. "He was a very humble person," Goins-Byrnes said. "He never looked at himself as being exceptional, just a normal guy, a husband and a father and a guy with a job he enjoys. "I think the way people have responded in remembering him really has shown what type of a person he is. They comment, 'What a great guy he is.' You wouldn't believe how many pictures I've received from race fans with him stopping for a picture or to sign an autograph. "I don't think he realized the kind of influence he had. I certainly didn't. I don't think he had any idea how many people he touched and what kind of influence he had.' " I still have text messages from Steve on my phone -- we exchanged many while going through our treatments. One in particular makes my heart happiest and I will most likely glance at it often today. On the Monday after last year's Bristol spring race -- named in Steve's honor -- I texted him to make sure he had watched the race, seen all the tributes and enjoyed the love. He responded: "Still smilin."
Burton blows a tire and collects Koch
Blake Koch couldn't avoid running into Jeb Burton after Burton blew a tire and hit the wall at Texas Motor Speedway.