Race Weekend Central

Eyes on Xfinity: Have Jeb Burton’s Fists Talked Too Much?

After the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Portland International Raceway, series fan favorite Jeb Burton and Chandler Smith got tangled up in a match of fisticuffs

Burton allegedly initiated the incident and cited his reasoning as Smith running him over in a few key moments during the race. Burton mentioned he was unhappy with how Smith has been racing people.

“I respect a lot of those guys on that team (Kaulig Racing),” said Burton in a post-race interview with Frontstretch. “So I really don’t want to crash their racecars, so I had to hit him upside the head a couple times to get his attention.”

Burton also said he “let his fists do the talking” in the same interview when asked if he would reach out to Smith later to work on these issues.

You can watch the full interview, including Chris Rice’s portion, below.

The question I have is this: have Burton’s fists done too much talking? What has it done for his career, and is he a little too old school for the modern era of NASCAR?

To really paint the picture, we first have to go back to how Jeb got his start in NASCAR to begin with. Think back to 2011, when a young Jeb Burton was emerging into the world of the ARCA Menards Series, and his father, the famed Ward Burton, was attempting to find sponsorship for his son to compete full time.

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Usually, a former driver with a track record like Ward could secure it easily, and probably would have, but an on-track incident in 2011 during a race in the Whelen All-American Series left Burton with a measly $250 fine after he threw a traffic cone at another driver’s car.

Yes, you read that right.

Ward was also placed on probation after he entered another driver’s pit stall during the race. It wouldn’t be until 2013 that Jeb Burton would secure a full-time ride in one of the main series.

That season, Burton ran the No. 4 Chevrolet truck for Turner Motorsports and notched his first ever NASCAR win that same season at Texas Motor Speedway. Burton’s sponsor for that year, however, began defaulting on payments, and Turner had to close shop on the No. 4 team.

Burton was yet again without a ride, but luckily signed with ThorSport Racing for the 2014 season. He would never win again in the Craftsman Truck Series, though.

Enter — NASCAR Cup Series driver Jeb Burton.

Burton made the jump straight from the Truck Series to Cup in 2015, a move that rarely turns out well, and Burton was no different. Burton posted nine DNQs that year for BK Racing, and never finished higher than 27th.

Into the shadow realm of racing we go.

Burton spent four years racing part-time in various series trying to earn back some credibility and respect, hoping to get a full-time opportunity, and then Chris Rice of Kaulig Racing picked up the phone to offer Burton a full-time seat in the No. 10 Chevy.

Burton notched his first ever Xfinity Series win that year, but due to (shocker here) more sponsorship issues, had to leave the team and drive for Our Motorsports in 2022. He left that team and joined Jordan Anderson Racing, where he now drives alongside rookie teammate Parker Retzlaff.

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There you have it, a full career up to this point marred by personal beef, fisticuffs and sponsorship struggles for a last name that is likened to the epitome of our sport. So why is that?

Simply put, Burton doesn’t deliver enough on the track to back up his antics. This is a driver who, in over a decade of racing in the sport’s three highest series, has only three wins — two in Xfinity and one in a truck, and one of those wins came because of a rain delay.

Burton has been the epitome of a journeyman in NASCAR, and his antics off the track, or more specifically, on pit road, haven’t exactly made it easy for him.

He is himself, though. He doesn’t apologize for it, and lots of fans love him for it. However, last I checked, fans don’t sign the checks, and the UFC isn’t lining up to sponsor a racecar yet.

Burton has a competitive fire that burns brighter than most in the sport, but if he wants to keep racing in the Xfinity Series, or potentially make another run at Cup, he needs to burn rubber instead.

About the author

Tanner Marlar is a staff writer for On3 Sports' Maroon and White Daily covering Mississippi State Athletics, an AP Wire reporter, an award-winning sports columnist and talk show host and master's student at Mississippi State University. Soon, Tanner will be pursuing a PhD. in Communicative Research.

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WJW Motorsports

Not long ago I watched Boris Said’s Greg Biffle interview for a laugh. Boris complains Biff won’t fight him like a man, but explains that he won’t settle it on track, because it is not right to wreck cars. The old guys got it, and Jeb is old-school and gets it too. Hundreds of people’s lives are affected by the driver’s decisions. It’s cowardly to use a race-car as a weapon. Drivers need to stop shopping at Target and grow a pair.

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