Virginia is Home
Jeb Burton chimes in on our Commonwealth Corner Series
For as long as I can remember, I’d been watching my dad, Ward Burton, race in the Cup Series and even got to travel with him on the circuit until I was old enough to begin racing on my own. One of my favorite memories is when he won the Daytona 500, and I got to miss a whole week of school and travel with him to all of the media events that followed that win. It was an indescribable feeling, especially because he had a real shot at winning the year before (in 2001), when he led 53 laps. That set the standard for the 2002 race, and even though he only led the last five laps, they were the most important laps of that entire race.
I always liked going to the races, but it took a while for me to get interested in the driving part. For me, I started out racing on two wheels, competing in motocross events throughout tracks in Virginia. When I decided to start racing go karts, I finished second in my first race. Then, I got interested in and really wanted to race stock cars.
I can really contribute my start in stock car racing to South Boston Speedway in Virginia. It was a family affair at the track. Dad and my Uncle Jeff launched their stock car racing careers at South Boston Speedway. I raced in the Limited Late Model series until I was 20 years old, when I got my first start in the ARCA Series but still drove late models. I eventually landed a part-time ride with Dad in the Camping World Truck Series, and through my experience was able to compete full-time when I was 20 years old for Turner Motorsports.
From there, you may know how the rest of the story goes. I drove in the Truck Series full-time in the 2013 and 2014 seasons, which led me to my first season in the Sprint Cup Series in 2015. While that season may not have gone as I had planned, it was valuable experience, and I think was what got me to where I am now, racing for “The King” at Richard Petty Motorsports in the No. 43 car in the XFINITY Series.
For me, I think it’s one of the best opportunities we’ve ever had, and even though the deal came together less than a week before the season opener at Daytona, the guys at the shop have been working their butts off to get me the best race car we can, and I can’t wait to see what we do this season.
While racing has brought me to North Carolina and traveling across the country, I always will think of Virginia as home. Throughout Dad’s racing career, he never moved out of Virginia, and still lives there today with my mom. My sister also lives in Virginia with her husband, and I have a place there as well and will come home a couple of times a month when the racing schedule allows.
While I may consider North Carolina my place of residence, Virginia is always going to be home. It’s the place that shaped my racing career, and a place where I still return home and race as often as I can. I’m really excited to race at Richmond International Raceway this year, not only because it’s the only Virginia track on the XFINITY circuit but also because the No. 43 XFINITY Series team always performs well there. Winning in my home state would make me so proud. Not to mention, my Virginia Tech Hokies are there, so you know where to find me when college football season rolls around in the fall. They say you can’t get where you’re going without knowing where you came from, and Virginia is that place for me.