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Feb 11, 2014 - 02:24 PM
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Smokey Mountain backs Burton for Daytona ARCA opener
Posted by: newsla on Feb 11, 2014 - 02:20 PM
NASCAR News
Smokey Mountain backs Burton for Daytona ARCA opener


Jeb Burton will make his second career ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards start Saturday at Daytona International Speedway in his ThorSport Racing debut in a No. 13 Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff Toyota Camry fielded by the 2013 Truck Series and ARCA championship team.

 

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Smokey Mountain, America's original and best-selling tobacco-free smokeless brand, will sponsor Burton in the Lucas Oil 200 presented by MAVTV American Real, the ARCA season opener that also kicks off Speedweeks 2014.

Burton, who finished fifth in the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship as a 21-year-old Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate, is eager to improve on his last Daytona experience -- a fifth-place finish in last February's Truck Series race.

"The way I'm looking at this ARCA race is, it's another chance to win a trophy," said Burton, who last week signed a deal with ThorSport for 2014. "In so many ways we're not sure where our season is going to go, so we're entering the ARCA race to win it and set the most positive stage that we can for the rest of the season.

"Most of all, it's another way for me to go down there and to bond with my crew, and my crew chief -- but I want to win the race. That's why we're going, and it's great to have Smokey Mountain along for the ride."

The deal with Smokey Mountain on Burton's car is the product of a blossoming business-to-business relationship between Smokey Mountain Chew and ThorSport, and will run in conjunction with a six-race deal for Smokey Mountain as the primary sponsor of Johnny Sauter's No. 98 ThorSport Toyota Tundra in the Truck Series.

"Smokey Mountain Herbal Snuff was looking for a competitive team and a specific type of driver to fit our brand identity," Dave Savoca, president of Smokey Mountain Chew, Inc. said on Monday. "We believe both ThorSport and Johnny Sauter are a great fit for the Smokey Mountain brand. Further, the association with Curb records, Carolina Nut and Nextant Aerospace provides some ancillary opportunity for cross promotions.

"Additionally, having the chance to partner with a great young talent like Jeb Burton for the ARCA race in Daytona was something we couldn't pass up."

Burton has run two superspeedway Truck Series races. He made his ARCA debut on the Berlin Raceway short track in Marne, Mich., in the summer of 2012.

"A couple years ago when I ran my first ARCA race it was my first time in that type of car and I had had no practice," Burton said. "So I over-drove it in practice and made it handle terrible in the race.

"That race alone made me a 10 times better driver. After that race I won a bunch of races in the late models and I ran really good in the truck at the end of that season. When the green flag dropped in that (ARCA) race it was not pretty -- but it taught me a lot about driving a race car."

Those skills will come into play competing against a number of "young guns" trying to make a name in ARCA, including Justin Boston, defending race winner John Wes Townley, two-time K&N Pro Series champion Dylan Kwasniewski, Mason Mitchell and young phenom Chase Elliott.

"Chase and I have raced around each other a good bit in trucks and we have a good relationship," Burton said, smiling. "We're good buddies, so I'm looking forward to racing against him and trying to beat him -- not to mention some of those other veterans that are so good at Daytona, like Bobby Gerhart."

Any variance between a car and a truck on the massive Daytona facility isn't a major concern to the confident Burton.

"A race vehicle is a race vehicle," Burton said. "A truck is a truck but if you put a (different) body on it, it's a car... It's got a steering wheel and a seat and a clutch and a gas pedal so that's the way I'm looking at it and I'm just happy to be there."

Four hours of practice, from 1-5 p.m. ET Thursday, will give Burton an opportunity to find out just how good his primary chassis is in 2014. Last season the same car scored a fourth-place finish at Daytona then won April's ARCA superspeedway race at Talladega.

The 46 enterd ARCA cars will qualify at 2 p.m. Friday, ARCA's only on-track activity that day.

Final practice for the Lucas Oil 200 is from 9:30-10:15 a.m. ET Saturday. The ARCA garage will be open to fans from 12:30-2 p.m. The 80-lap, 200-mile main event will be telecast live on FOX Sports 1 at 4 p.m.

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