By: Ashley McCubbin
After running anywhere from three to 14 NASCAR Xfinity Series each season the past five years, Jeb Burton will see his dream realized in being able to run the full schedule in 2021 for Kaulig Racing.
The second generation racer recently spoke with POPULAR SPEED about the new deal, while reflecting on 2020.
POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts heading into next year with Kaulig Racing?
JEB BURTON: I’m just really excited. First off, I’m just thankful for the opportunity that Matt Kaulig and Kaulig Racing have given myself. I feel like it’s a great place for me to go to hopefully go win some races, and hopefully a championship. It’s a great place to bring some of my partners that I already have along for the ride, as well.
PS: I know you’ve worked for this a long time, and we saw the emotions in the reveal video. What does this truly mean to you?
JEB: It means everything. We’ve been working really hard to get a full-time opportunity to run for a championship, and to try to win races is just great to have. I’ve been dreaming since I was 12 years old to run full-time in one of the top three series in a competitive ride.
It’s very hard to make happen and to have it with a great team like Kaulig Racing, and a great partner like Nutrien Solutions just really fits right up our alley. I’m just really excited about the opportunity and I just think it’ll be a really good season for all of us.
PS: In knowing that you’re going to run the full schedule, what track are you most excited to get to?
JEB: I’m really like the short tracks – Martinsville, Richmond; those are a lot of funs. The speedways, I know we’ll have really good speedway cars. I think those are definitely the ones that I’m really excited about, and I think some of the mile-and-a-halves will be really good, too.
A lot of tracks I haven’t gotten the chance to drive, like the Charlotte ROVAL or Nashville Superspeedway; I’ve tested there a couple times. It’s definitely going to be some challenges along the way, but I know my guys will help me prepare and it’ll be a lot of fun.
PS: You got to run some races this past season with JR Motorsports and have some success. What are your thoughts as you look back?
JEB: It was a pretty good year. I really wanted to win to put the icing on the cake. We finished second at Richmond, so it was a good year. I wished it could’ve been better, to be honest; I wanted to win a race or two. We led laps, came close, should’ve definitely won Daytona and Talladega; led the white flag lap – we did everything but win. I enjoyed my time at JRM and I like all those guys over there, so I appreciate everything they did for me.
PS: Looking at yourself as a driver, what do you feel that you need to improve upon to be stronger heading into 2021 with Kaulig Racing?
JEB: I would say just work on my race craft and being able to race more and be more consistent with my team, and focus on every little thing from pit stops to information and what I need after the first pit stop, second pit stop, what I need to tell my crew chief to do and the adjustments to put me in position to win a race. Just trying to tighten everything up I can on my side and working more with my crew chief.
PS: What are your thoughts in having Justin Hayley as a teammate?
JEB: Justin and I have raced hard together for the last couple of years, never really had any incidents at all, Justin has been at Kaulig for a couple years now, so I think it’ll be good. A.J. (Allmendinger) is another great teammate. I think all three of us will get along really well and we’ll have a lot of fun.
PS: Looking at the road that you’ve taken to get to this point in your career, what is one piece of advice you’d offer to somebody who’s looking to put themselves in a similar situation?
JEB: I would just say never give up. There have been a couple times I’ve wanted to just say, “The hell with it,” just due to how difficult it was and the financial side in not having enough sponsorship. My family can’t pay for me to race, so that’s where all that emotion comes from. It’s just so difficult to have those opportunities, and hard to have those partners to get those opportunities. There’s just so much that goes into it and if you have a dream, you just have to keep at it and work hard, and never give up. That’s what I’d tell someone. If you stay persistent and work really hard, something will happen for you.