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Ward and Jeb Burton Reflect on First Race Together at Orange Krush 200

While the on-track results were mixed, both Ward and Jeb Burton left Orange County Speedway pleased with the success of the inaugural Orange Krush 200.


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Ward and Jeb Burton raced against each other for the first time Friday night in the Rogers Heating & Cooling Orange Krush 200 at Orange County Speedway. While the on-track results were mixed, both father and son were thrilled with how the event played out.

Proceeds from the event went to the Ward Burton Wildlife Foundation, and fans packed the stands surrounding the 3/8-mile oval to see Ward Burton behind the wheel of a race car for the first time since 2012.

RELATED: Kaden Honeycutt Scores Inaugural Orange Krush 200 Win at Orange County

Ward fought his race car for most of the day, but persevered to finish 15th, one lap down.

“Look, we really missed it, particularly practice and up to qualifying,” Ward told Racing America. “But this Sellers crew is second to none. We have just had some issues with the car and I would say, I don’t think I was driving the car properly with the way I was using the brakes. So both me and the car could have gotten better.

“Our goal was to run 200 laps. We were one lap down, we ran 199. The car is not damaged. Jeb owns half of it, the Sellers own the other half. Jeb had a top-six run, it sounded like he was really racy there at the end. I need to get better, without a shadow of a doubt.”

Jeb charged from 15th in qualifying to a sixth-place effort, in contention for a top-five finish in the closing laps.

“We missed in qualifying and over-adjusted after that,” explained Jeb. “We weren’t very good the first half. We drove to 13th or 11th. We were riding but I was trying to get some track position at the same time because I started 19th, so I had to go.

“I just got up top and passed a bunch of them on the restarts. Me and Mike Herman, Jr. did a really good job on restarts. We made some hay and got some good track position and then I just went at it in the last 50 laps.”

Regardless of how the race played out on the high-banked track in Rougemont, North Caroilna, both Burtons were ecstatic with the turnout and support of the event.

“I’m proud of the effort,” said Jeb. “I’m proud of all the partners that helped make it happen. I appreciate everyone coming out. Racing America, thank you for supporting the event. Rogers Heating & Cooling, all our partners.”

“How many people do you think were here? I heard 6,000. We’re excited. This is a badass race track. We’re going to try to get them to do it again.”

“What I was pleased and really ecstatic about, I don’t know how many races I’ve been to that the competitors were complimentary about the way they were treated at this event,” added Ward. “The fans, I think, truly enjoyed the way they were treated, too. When you look at all of that and everything Rogers has done for us, as a fundraising event for WBWF, it was a success.

“It’s hard for me to picture it all. All I saw was going up there, we signed autographs for an hour. This is a pretty big place, and when you can wrap all the way around, so it’s hard to judge how large the crowd is, but it sounds like it was a success.“

Would Ward be willing to give it another shot behind the wheel of a Late Model?

Physically, and perhaps to his own surprise, Ward felt fine after 200 laps. However, he is uncertain if he could commit the time it would take to be truly competitive against some of the stout drivers that were in Friday’s field.

“I feel physically strong. The car didn’t bother me at all running 200 laps. These cars are a lot different running on bump stops than I ever drove before. Yes and no. I’ve got some confidence but I didn’t run with the top guys.

“I thought at one time there I could go forward. The next thing I know, my nose was pushing really badly again. I’ve got a lot of work to do, I’ve got a lot of things to do that’s more important, myself, and I’m not going to sit in a race car every week.”

-Photo credit: Will Bellamy, Racing America

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