2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton jumps back behind the wheel to turn laps at South Boston Speedway
SOUTH BOSTON, Va. — The busiest pre-season testing day of the new year at South Boston Speedway ended late Wednesday afternoon with something of a surprise.
Former NASCAR Cup Series star and 2002 Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton took a brief turn behind the wheel of a late model stock car co-owned by his son, NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Jeb Burton, and H.C. Sellers.
“It was really fun,” the elder Burton said with a smile. “I appreciate Jeb and H.C. Sellers allowing me to play for a moment. It brings back a lot of memories because I was immediately telling them what I need to get myself comfortable and feeling right. I know what I need to go faster.”
Burton, the winner of two of NASCAR‘s most prestigious Cup Series races, the 2002 Daytona 500 and the 2001 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway, admitted it had been quite awhile since he last piloted a late model stock car.
“I think it was 1991,” he replied when asked when he last drove a late model stock car. “The late ‘Goo’ Fallen had me go to Orange County Speedway with him. Eddie Hatcher was still working for him. He wanted me to drive the car. The car was fine. It was just the motor wouldn‘t run.”
Burton explained it was hard to compare the experience of driving a late model stock car years ago with driving one on this afternoon.
First laps on track for @WardBurtonWBWF and he was right up to speed. Hasn‘t been in a race car in 10 years. 💨😜#SellersBurtonRacing pic.twitter.com/qXKGFTXfyH
— Jeb Burton (@JebBurtonRacing) February 23, 2023
“I raced once (NASCAR) Busch Series race here in 1995 when the front pit wall was built,” noted Burton. “The track has been reconfigured a little bit since then.”
It was Burton‘s son, Jeb, that persuaded him to climb behind of the wheel of the late model stock car.
“Jeb has been after me pretty hard to get back racing and run some races somewhere,” Burton explained. “We‘ll see what it leads to down the road.”
Jeb Burton and Sellers had spent the day at South Boston Speedway working with driver Andrew Patterson. Patterson is scheduled to drive the car in the twin 75-lap Sentara Healthcare Late Model Stock Car Division races that will headline the Danville Toyota ‘23 Opener racing program on Saturday afternoon, March 18, at South Boston Speedway.
Patterson is a member of the Jordan Anderson Racing Team, the NASCAR Xfinity Series team for which Jeb Burton is driving this season.
The season-opening event will also include twin 30-lap races for the Budweiser Limited Sportsman Division, a 25-lap race for the Southside Disposal Pure Stock Division and a 20-lap race for the Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets Division. The first race of the day will get the green flag at 2 p.m.