Photo: James Gilbert/Getty Images via NASCAR

Jeb Burton, Jordan Anderson Racing Victorious in Talladega Xfinity Race

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

TALLADEGA, Ala. – The little team that could got it done at Talladega as Jeb Burton survived a double overtime finish to win his second career NASCAR Xfinity Series race in Saturday’s Ag-Pro 300 and the first for Jordan Anderson Racing.

Burton led the way at the end of regulation when the second red flag of the day pushed the race into overtime, where he would have to hold off a hard charge from Sheldon Creed and Parker Kligerman to be able to finish out the day in Victory Lane.

On the final restart, Burton lined up on the outside lane with Kligerman pushing, with Creed and Kyle Sieg lined up on the bottom.

Burton and Kligerman pushed themselves clear of the pack on the restart as Burton took up residence in the lead he would never relinquish.

Creed eventually worked his way past Kligerman and the two looked to be trying to work together to get past Burton, but could never get the momentum needed to close the gap to Burton as the No. 27 car sailed on to victory.

Creed finished the race in second, with Kligerman in third, Cole Custer banking the $100,000 Dash4Cash bonus in fourth, and Brennan Poole rounding out the top-five.

“I’m pumped up. Out of breath from yelling,” Burton said after climbing from his car. “Went through some stuff over the offseason and I’m more focused now than ever. These guys have made racing fun again for me.

“Our little team, you have no idea how big this is. This is huge. We’re locked in the Playoffs. I can promise you one thing, we’re going to drink a lot of beer tonight. My buddies better be ready when we get home, because we’re going to burn it down.”

Burton’s team owner, Jordan Anderson, did not have nearly as much fun the last time he was at Talladega after a fiery crash in the Truck Series led to a trip to a local hospital via a medical helicopter having sustained second degree burns on numerous places on his body.

Afterwards, Anderson explained the emotional moment of returning to Talladega and watching his car cross the finish line to deliver a win for his team.

“I think it’s almost six months since what happened here at Talladega last fall,” Anderson said. “And my wife was here with me today. She was here back then, and we were just talking like, what a rollercoaster of emotions of this place. Like, you know, you roll in the tunnel for the first time, you think like, yeah, last time I was here, I didn’t even drive out of the tunnel, I went out of here in a helicopter.

“So, to overcome all that stuff and, you know, to just think about that and all we went through and the emotions…I want to keep this team growing bigger than what I am. And you know, this thing we joke and talk about all the time, but it literally started in, you know, two trucks and a dually and a gooseneck and, you know, what is this five years later to win a NASCAR race, to accomplish the goal — the first goal of many more things we want to accomplish is pretty amazing.

“I feel like life has a way of, there’s always silver lining. I tell my guys all the time that we just gotta embrace the journey. And they say, well, what does embracing the journey mean? This is the way I look at life. If nothing bad ever happens, if you can learn from it, become a better person. I look at what happened wasn’t a bad thing. It made me stronger, made my family stronger, made me stronger my faith.

“I believe that God has everything happen for a reason. And, you know, brought Jeb and I together, brought Shane, our crew chief together. And you look at all the stuff that’s happened and all the people that he’s brought on our path, like a lot of answered prayers from last year.

“To just sit here today with just a couple of scars, I about teared up, watching it, thinking about it all. But it’s like of all places, our first win here at Talladega, it’s pretty special.”

As is always the case at superspeedways, multi-car wrecks were the story of the day, with two red flags near the midway point of the race and at the end of regulation – both featuring cars that got upside-down during their respective incidents.

The first occurred just prior to the end of Stage 2 when Dexter Stacey, Blaine Perkins, Jade Buford, and Kaz Grala were involved in a violent crash that would bring out a red flag lasting almost 12 minutes.

On lap 47, Stacey broke loose off Turn 2 and his No. 66 Chevrolet slid helplessly toward the inside wall before making a vicious impact with the SAFER barrier.

As Stacey spun out of the pack, he clipped Perkins No. 02 Chevrolet in the right rear, turning him broad-side against the oncoming cars behind. He would spin directly into the path of Buford’s car, with the impact from Buford causing Perkins car to begin flipping down the backstretch, shedding parts and pieces along the way.

During Perkins’ flip, the rear wheel came off his car and began bouncing down the track. Grala was an innocent bystander in all of this as the tire and wheel made contact with the front end of his car. Despite the run-in with the runaway tire, Grala was able to continue on in the race until getting swept up in another crash later in the event.

All of the drivers would climb from their cars under their own power, with Stacey and Buford being checked and released from the Infield Care Center, while Perkins was transported to a local hospital for further evaluation.

The second red flag came when Daniel Hemric moved to block Sheldon Creed in Turn 4 on lap 111, but the late move ended in contact between the two that sent Hemric spinning back into the pack with carnage ensuing behind.

By the time the smoke cleared, numerous cars were involved and Hemric came to rest on his roof. After a number of minutes, the safety crew was able to right Hemric’s Chevrolet and he climbed from the mangled machine unscathed.

The Xfinity Series will move on from the Talladega carnage and set their sights on next week’s A-GAME 200 at Dover, which is scheduled for 1:30 pm ET Saturday on FOX Sports 1.

Tags : , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.