TALLADEGA, Ala. – Jeb Burton was singing in the rain Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway, after the 28-year-old Halifax, Va., native earned his first NASCAR Xfinity Series win in a rain-shortened Ag Pro 300.
Burton wrested the top spot from his younger cousin, Harrison Burton, on lap 82 and never gave up command after that at the 2.66-mile superspeedway en route to the breakthrough triumph.
He was out front when the fourth and final yellow flag of the day was called for a seven-car crash off the exit of turn two, then celebrated as the skies opened up a few moments later and soaked the race track.
With sunset at 7:22 p.m. CT and a window of daylight too narrow to attempt track drying efforts, NASCAR officials declared the race official with 90 of 113 laps complete, after the field was brought down pit road and stopped.
That left Burton and the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet team with a maiden Xfinity Series triumph, nearly eight years after the lone NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win of his career.
It was the third straight Talladega win for Matt Kaulig’s team, which swept last year’s pair of Xfinity Series events at the largest track on the schedule with driver Justin Haley.
“Unbelievable, man,” said Jeb Burton, the son of 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton. “It’s been a tough road to get to this point. Just an unbelievable race team. Today we had Mother Nature on our side, but we had a fast car anyway. We ran up front all day … and were up front at the right time.
“We’ve been building and building and building, and I feel like I’ve kind of been the weak link the last couple of races, and I need to clean some things up,” added Burton, who led three times for 21 laps. “Just the momentum — that’s what I needed … but I want to win races. I told them (Kaulig Racing) that I wanted to come there and hang banners, and we have a chance to hang one after today. Just thankful and happy for this today.
“Doing the burnouts was nice … no smoke, obviously, because it was so wet … but that was cool.”
Saturday made Jeb Burton the fourth first-time winner in eight Xfinity Series races this year. It was also the first Xfinity Series race to be shortened by weather since June 9, 2018 at Michigan Int’l Speedway.
The first two 25-lap stages Saturday ran without incident. Haley won the first stage and Noah Gragson topped the second stage, but it was after that where the intensity picked up and things got crazy.
A lap-76 spin by Josh Berry, who had a right-rear tire going down, forced a yellow flag in the middle of a cycle of green-flag pit stops. It set up a restart with 34 laps left under threatening skies.
When the green flag waved to start the final run, Harrison Burton got a push to the lead from Jeb Burton, but the No. 20 Toyota was only out front for two circuits before Harrison opened the door for Jeb to pounce.
Once Jeb Burton got out front, he was in control when Joe Graf Jr. slid up the track with a flat tire on lap 85, turning Michael Annett down the track into traffic and leading to a pileup that collected Ty Dillon, Brandon Jones and others in its wake.
Enough rain to soak the entire track began falling five laps later, ending the race 23 laps short of its scheduled 300-mile distance.
Xfinity Series point leader Austin Cindric, who led five times for a race-high 24 laps Saturday, ended the day as the runner-up. A.J. Allmendinger, Riley Herbst and Ryan Sieg closed the top five.
Sixth through 10th were Gragson, who collected his second-straight $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus, Brandon Brown, Haley, Myatt Snider and Harrison Burton, who faded back to 10th after being shuffled out just before the final caution.
While Gragson was pleased to take home the cash again, he was disappointed at not having a chance to contend for the victory in the closing laps due to the weather that moved into the area.
“A hundred thousand dollars is a big deal for us,” Gragson said. “This is two times in a row. It’s pretty cool to be able to do that, but, man, I wanted to race for the win. … A hundred thousand’s nice, but I race for wins. It is what it is. It’s ‘Dega, baby.”
The NASCAR Xfinity Series season continues May 8 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway during NASCAR Throwback Weekend at the 1.366-mile, egg-shaped oval. Brandon Jones is the defending track winner.