Saturday, September 10, 2022

XFINITY: Jeb Burton’s difficult summer continues with transmission issue in Kansas

ALL PHOTOS: @DnfRacers

by Brock Beard Editor-in-Chief

Jeb Burton picked up the 2nd last-place finish of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday’s Kansas Lottery 300 at the Kansas Speedway when his #27 IT Consulting St. Pete Chevrolet had a transmission failure after 51 of 93 laps.

The finish, which occurred in Burton’s 101st series start, was his second of the year and first since Indianapolis, five races ago. In the XFINITY Series’ last-place rankings, it as the 21st for the #27, the 50th from a transmission issue, and the 604th for Chevrolet. Across NASCAR’s top three series, it was the 59th for the #27, the 168th from a transmission, and the 1,859th for Chevrolet.

In a very competitive LASTCAR XFINITY Series Championship, this single finish also vaulted Burton into a three-way tie for the most last-place finishes in 2022 with Brennan Poole and Rajah Caruth. He remains second overall, just one Bottom Five behind Poole.

Since he was last featured on this site, Burton and the third Our Motorsports entry have continued to struggle. He’s finished no better than 21st since the July race at Atlanta, and in those seven races failed to finish four times, including Indianapolis, where a track bar system failure kept him from taking the green flag. But Kansas looked to be a chance for a turnaround, as in his only previous XFINITY start at the track last year, he finished 12th with Kaulig Racing.

Burton’s ride for Kansas welcomed new sponsorship from cybersecurity firm IT Consulting St. Petersburg, LLC. The black-white-and-red Chevrolet showed promise early, running fastest of the three Our Motorsports cars in both practice and qualifying. He ran 15th in the former, then secured 19th on the grid with a speed of 169.486mph (31.861 seconds).

With 39 drivers entered for 38 spots, the lone DNQ fell to Akinori Ogata, who was attempting his first XFINITY race on a track longer than one mile in length in Motorsports Business Management’s #13 Kyowa / SEAVAC Toyota. Ogata ran a lap faster than four other drivers in qualifying, including two drivers who didn’t turn a lap due to incidents during the session. Kris Wright lost control on his warm-up lap and made slight contact with the left-rear corner of his #68 Wright Chevrolet. Making harder contact was Ryan Vargas, whose #6 Chevrolet aborted his run to cool off the engine, then on his warm-up lap spun and struck the inside wall, sending him to a backup car. 

Vargas’ backup car and the repairs to Wright’s #68 put them 38th and 37th in the lineup, and both incurred redundant tail-end penalties. Jesse Iwuji would surrender the 18th-place starting spot Kyle Weatherman earned the #34 Equity Prime Mortgage Chevrolet, plus seven other drivers docked for unapproved adjustments: 20th-place Brandon Brown in the #02 Larry’s Lemonade Chevrolet, 28th-place J.J. Yeley in the #66 Coble Enterprises Ford, 29th-place Josh Williams in the #36 Alloy Employer Services Chevrolet, 30th-place Brennan Poole in the #47 Inspire Real Change Chevrolet, 32nd-place C.J. McLaughlin in the #38 Sci Aps Ford, 34th-place Stefan Parsons after spinning B.J. McLeod’s unsponsored #78 Chevrolet in practice, and 36th-place Joey Gase in the #35 Explore Branson Ford.

Threatening rain that would ultimately end the race after Stage 2 forced a move-up of the start, during which time Jesse Iwuji was among those competing for last place. By Lap 8, Mason Massey made an unscheduled stop in his #91 Anderson Power Services Chevrolet, who dropped him two laps down, and he was last on Lap 22. Iwuji remained in 37th until Massey climbed past o Lap 36, his #91 faster than most of the other cars around him. 

Brennan Poole during one of his two trips to the garage.

When Stage 1 ended on Lap 45, Iwuji remained last, and called for no changes with his water temperature at 190 degrees. During the yellow, Iwuji’s crew suggested he change his line around the track, saying he was turning into the corner too early. They suggested he arc more into the corners and hug the bottom. During this caution, Brennan Poole reported his #47 Chevrolet was shutting off. As the race restarted on Lap 52, Poole went behind the wall and immediately took last place from Iwuji. “I don’t have enough power to turn it over,” said the driver as Mike Harmon called for more fuel.

Seconds later on Lap 54, Jeb Burton joined Poole in the garage area, and the crew told him to shut off the engine. On Lap 55, Poole’s own engine re-fired, and the #47 returned to the track eight laps down. Poole finally completed his next lap on the 58th circuit, his own car showing nine laps down, and just three laps from dropping Burton to last. This was done on Lap 62, as the crew told their driver to try re-firing the engine. But while moving the car through the gears, Burton’s team discovered the input shaft had broken on the transmission. “How does that happen?” asked the driver. “That’s parts, man,” said the team. By Lap 64, the team said they were done.

On Lap 82, Poole went to the garage a second time, and the crew told him to pull up to the hauler. “Somethings with the battery,” said the driver. “I shake it and it comes back.” With rain as close as the end of Stage 2, Poole’s crew was still able to make repairs under yellow and sent him back out on Lap 87, 15 laps down. “Lights are off, I don’t know what the hell’s going on,” said his spotter. But Poole said the car’s engine was still skipping badly, and he pulled into the garage before the restart on Lap 88, this time done for the day. The rain held off just long enough to reach the end of Stage 2 with eventual winner Noah Gragson reaching the finish line first. After 93 laps, with the cars stopped on pit road under red, and with rain now picking up, NASCAR declared both Burton and Poole out of the race. The race was called – first unofficially, then officially – soon after. They were the only two drivers who failed to finish.

Curiously, the published results did not correctly reflect the garage official's report, switching Poole's reason out with Burton's. This may have been because both were reported at the same time during the final rain delay.

Iwuji took 36th, four laps down, and one lap behind 35th-place Bayley Currey in the #4 Hy-Vee Chevrolet. Rounding out the Bottom Five was C.J. McLaughlin, another lap ahead of Currey in his #38 Sci Aps Ford.

38) #27-Jeb Burton / 51 laps / transmission
37) #47-Brennan Poole / 73 laps / engine
36) #34-Jesse Iwuji / 89 laps / running
35) #4-Bayley Currey / 90 laps / running
34) #38-C.J. McLaughlin / 91 laps / running

*This marked the first last-place finish for the #27 in a XFINITY Series race at Kansas since October 8, 2011, when J.J. Yeley’s 31-W Insulation Ford had electrical issues after 2 laps.
*This was the first XFINITY race where the last-place finisher fell out with transmission issues since July 25, 2020, when Stephen Leicht’s #66 Jani-King Toyota also dropped out at Kansas.

1st) Alpha Prime Racing (4)
2nd) JR Motorsports (3)
3rd) B.J. McLeod Motorsports, JD Motorsports, Mike Harmon Racing, Motorsports Business Management, Our Motorsports (2)
4th) Big Machine Racing, Jesse Iwuji Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Kaulig Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Sam Hunt Racing, SS-Green Light Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing (1)

1st) Chevrolet (19)
2nd) Toyota (4)
3rd) Ford (2)


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