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J. Burton nominated for NASCAR Hall of Fame

South Boston News
Jeff Burton / April 09, 2020
Retired NASCAR driver Jeff Burton has been selected as one of five current nominees for induction to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Other past drivers that were nominated were Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jake Elder and Banjo Matthews. All five are first time nominees.

The South Boston native, who now serves as a NASCAR broadcaster for NBC, said in a Twitter video that he was honored by the nomination. He also noted he was thankful for all the texts, tweets and comments he’d received since the nomination was announced.

“I just want to take a minute to say thank you to everyone for the nomination into the hall of fame and all the comments texts and tweets I’ve received. I find it extremely humbling to be nominated. I have a tremendous amount of respect and reverence for the sport and the people that make this sport what it is and I’ve been extremely proud to be part of it.

“And again I just want to say thank you to everybody and I certainly appreciate it. I am very humbled by the nomination and feel proud to be a part of this sport as I do every day,” Burton said.

Burton entered Winston Cup racing driving for Stavola Brothers Racing in 1994. This would also be the season he won Rookie of the Year honors. Ten other rookies were competing for the title, including his brother, Ward.

Some of his best seasons were from 1997 to 2000 when he had a streak of not finishing any lower than fifth in point standings. Burton ran 695 races over 22 years, won 21 NASCAR Cup Series races, and 27 NASCAR Xfinity Series races over the course of his career.

Burton began racing go-karts while still a young boy. Ward Burton said after go-karts, it was off to the South Boston race track where the Burton family formed its first late model team.

Ward said the nomination of his brother to the Hall of Fame was well deserved.

“Yes, I think it’s very deserving,” said Ward. “Jeff has been involved in racing all of his life. He started racing in go karts when he was seven years old. And he raced go carts for about 10 years and won the state championship almost every year.”

The elder Burton said Jeff had a lot of great mentors as he was coming up.

“Then he worked for other racecar teams like Richard Petty and Jay Hitchcock out of Highpoint,” Ward continued. “Jay built race cars and Jeff learned a whole lot about racecars working with Jay building cars and Richard Petty building cars and as soon as he was old enough to race at South Boston, we formed a late model team and he raced South Boston for probably five or six years.”

After that run, the Burtons formed a Busch Grand National Team. The brothers would team up for approximately the next four years in Grand National. After this time Burton would move on to join other teams and sponsors.

“He went with three other Busch Grand National teams and raced Busch Grand National for about five years and then he signed with the Stavola Brothers in the Winston Cup Series,” Ward remembered. “He was Rookie of the Year in the Winston Cup and he went on to win many races. He won two Charlotte 600’s and he won the Charlotte 500. He won the inaugural race at Texas Motor Speedway, and the inaugural race at Homestead.”

Yet with all that fans know about Jeff Burton’s prowess on the track, Ward said one of his brother’s biggest contributions to racing has been his work in making racecars safe.

“He was really innovative into helping with safety,” Ward said. “He spent a lot of his own money with helping with safety in the race cars — the window nets and all that kind of stuff. But he was really involved in the safety aspect of it. And after races he’s become a broadcaster for NBC for many years.”

Ward said of his brother’s broadcasting abilities that he thinks he does a good there also.

“He does a good job with that,” Ward said. “When the race starts he pretty much calls the race for the whole three or four hours.”

South Boston Speedway general manager Cathy Rice said of Burton’s nomination, “I am truly excited about Jeff being nominated for the NASCAR Hall Of Fame. He accomplished a lot in NASCAR, not only behind the wheel as a driver but also behind the scenes with his work to help improve driver safety and his current work with television. He is a great representative and ambassador for the sport.”

“I have always looked at Jeff as one of my children. Back in the 1980s my husband, Allen, and myself were part of his race team when he was racing in the NASCAR Late Model Stock Car Division at South Boston Speedway. I have watched and followed him as he grew and progressed in NASCAR racing and am very proud of what he has done in and for the sport,” she said.

“To be nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame is a great honor. We at South Boston Speedway join the people of South Boston and Halifax County in congratulating Jeff on his nomination.”

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