Raindrops were thumping off the No. 27 Jordan Anderson Racing hauler at Dover Motor Speedway on a wet Friday morning. In the lounge sat Jeb Burton, who was sprawled out, blasting Fall In Love by Bailey Zimmerman.
Burton was only six days removed from winning at Talladega Superspeedway — his second career Xfinity Series triumph, with both coming at the 2.66-mile oval. What made this one special was it was the first NASCAR win for Jordan Anderson Racing.
“It just helps us with sponsorship, momentum and trying to build this team,” Burton said, reflecting to Jayski.com of his Talladega win. “It helps with all of our partners and supporters. I don‘t have a deal done for next year, so I think it helps with that. It allows us to change our focus and takes the pressure off of making the playoffs, so now we can focus on the playoffs.”
Anderson, who began his NASCAR ownership journey with a dually and a gooseneck trailer, wasn‘t sure if he‘d ever get to experience the thrill of victory. He‘s faced the agony of defeat many times, including runner-up finishes as a driver in the season opening Craftsman Truck Series races in consecutive years.
But now, he can watch as his drivers, Burton and rookie Parker Retzlaff, wheel his racecars around the track. That‘s a proud moment for the 32-year-old.
“I thought I would see myself win one of these as a driver, but I think having the owner hat on has been more fulfilling because you‘re able to see guys like Jeb come in, who had a tough year last year and win a race and give him that opportunity,” Anderson stated. “Shane [Whitbeck], our crew chief, that was his first win. Guys on the team that had been in the sport for a while hadn‘t won one and gave them their first win. Being a part of all these people‘s lives and giving them the tools and opportunities to succeed has been a different kind of fulfillment that is on a whole other level.”
In all likelihood, Burton will be one of the 12 playoff drivers come the fall. It will mark the second time in three full seasons that he‘s qualified for the postseason. But it wasn‘t long ago that he was unsure if he‘d get another opportunity.
After Burton‘s opportunity with Kaulig Racing went awry following the 2021 season, he moved to Our Motorsports for a multi-year deal. Not even halfway through the 2022 season, he knew he wanted out of that opportunity so he could get back on track with what he believed could be a more competitive race team.
“I went to all of my partners and told them about what Jordan had been building and they all believed in it,” Burton said. “I met with Jordan and John [Bommarito, co-owner] in the middle of the year last year because I knew I needed to make a change.
“The great thing about coming here to race is they believe in me. Things are just good.”
In the first race of 2023 at Daytona, Burton didn‘t think he had a car capable of winning and finished 11th. The No. 27 team struggled at Auto Club Speedway — the first intermediate race of the season — and it made Burton rethink his decision to join the third-year Xfinity Series team.
“I called my dad (Ward Burton) and said this was going to be a long year,” Burton said of his feelings after leaving California. “I was really concerned — it was horrible. The car was not good. Then, we went to Vegas and we ran 14th and thought it was a big improvement. That showed me that we can do something.”
Through the opening eight races of the season, Burton was a weekly top-15 threat. In those events, he posted four top-15 finishes and recalls losing seven positions on the final lap at Atlanta Motor Speedway to place 16th.
With no full-blown alliance to any Cup Series team, Burton believes a top 15 is a successful outing, no matter the track layout. Sure, at superspeedways he has a fighting chance of coming out with a victory, as he did at Talladega while also snapping a 46-race skid with zero top 10s.
Anderson is a believer that the first victory is the hardest one to get. It took his Xfinity team 74 starts to capture its first checkered flag. But dating back to 2018 when he started his truck team, it took 169 starts overall (95 truck races). He believes that the Talladega win can be the snowball effect that gives his team more staying power in the series.
His last win before Talladega was in 2014 at Southern Nationals in a super late model.
“You work so hard to try to earn respect from people in the sport and make your footing there for a long time,” Anderson noted. “My team and I are in this for the long haul; it‘s not just a one and done deal. Hopefully, we‘ll be here 20 years from now and continue this journey. That‘s hopefully the first of many for us.”
Burton hopes that the snowball effect is accurate. He wants to build a foundation with the No. 27 team and get more resources in the years to come. Currently, the No. 27 team has a handful of races open for sponsorship this season.
“I told [the team] at the shop, if we can make that kind of speed at a superspeedway, we can do it anywhere,” Burton said. “The problem is that technology is always changing. [Our competitors] are doing a lot of things with a lot of resources with bodies and that‘s where the downforce comes into play.”
The final 60% of the regular season bodes well for Burton. The Talladega victory allows the No. 27 team to gamble on strategy, which is exactly what it did in the series‘ most recent event at Dover Motor Speedway. Instead of following the leaders down pit road during a green flag pit cycle, Anderson wanted Burton to make a pit stop late in the race, risking the loss of a few positions.
Even though the win is still recent, the No. 27 team is already focused on the playoffs. If nothing at all goes right in the postseason and there aren‘t 13 different winners, the worst the JAR team can do is finish 13th in the owner‘s standings.
“We‘re constantly learning and figuring out what works,” Anderson said. “The way that I‘ve tried to run this team the last several years is to surround myself with guys that are smarter than I am. I‘m fortunate to have guys working on this team that are hungry and focused, that are smart and see the details all the way through and let me focus on the bigger picture. They get into the nuts and bolts of everything and figure out how to get these cars to drive as good as they can.”
Looking ahead, Burton is focused on the now and the immediate future.
“I don‘t know if I‘m just hungry, and I enjoyed the win, but I want more,” Burton said. “I‘ve been doing it long enough that I just want to win and be in a good situation. I know I can do it. When I was in Victory Lane, I was looking at the car and the trophy, and I was already thinking about the next race. I probably didn‘t enjoy it as much as I could have, but I‘m ready.
“I‘m 30 years old and I want to race for another 10 to 12 years, but my knowledge with the racecar is better than it‘s ever been. Knowing what I need in my racecar is good. I‘m the best I‘ve ever been, so I want to build this team where this time next year, every week we are in the top 10.”
The Xfinity Series heads to Darlington Raceway this weekend where Burton finished fifth in 2021.