There is no denying that Jeb Burton has worked hard to be full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Driving the No. 10 for Kaulig Racing, the 29-year-old is contesting his first full season in the series, with help from Nutrien Ag Solutions, Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, and LS Tractors, among others.
However, as the Xfinity Series prepares for their annual post-season on Saturday, the son of Daytona 500 winner Ward Burton finds his future to be uncertain. It’s not a weird feeling to the Halifax, Virginia-native, who has switched organizations in nine of 10 seasons that he’s competed in NASCAR’s top-three series.
“I’ve been on the phone non-stop trying to figure it out,” Burton said in a media availability. “It’s definitely a unique situation, I’m not sure what my future holds right now, but we’re working hard on it every day.”
Burton’s statistics with Kaulig Racing this season haven’t been anything to scoff at, with seven top-fives and 15 top-10s, along with a breakthrough victory at Talladega Superspeedway this spring. His 12.9 average finish is ranked sixth-place of all full-timers in the series, ahead of Daniel Hemric, and Noah Gragson.
“Right now we’re focused on the playoffs, we need to go win some races, that’s not going to hurt anything, and try to win a championship,” Burton continued. “These could be my last seven races for right now. I don’t know what’s going to happen. We’re working hard on it, I’ve got a bunch of good partners behind me still, we’ll figure something out.”
Jeb Burton on where he thinks his team is right now entering the playoffs and his future. “These could be my last seven races for right now. I don’t know what is going to happen.” pic.twitter.com/EBXWEkdbRn
— Bob Pockrass (@bobpockrass) September 21, 2021
But Why The Uncertainty for Jeb Burton?
Just a few months ago, things seemed to be reasonably stable for Burton, until a report from the Associated Press indicated that Nutrien Ag Solutions, a 19-race primary sponsor of the No. 10 Chevrolet Camaro, wouldn’t be returning to Kaulig Racing – or NASCAR — in 2022.
The departure of Nutrien Ag Solutions, which has been a partner of Kaulig Racing for three seasons, leaves a significant gap in funding for the No. 10, one that will likely need to be replenished if Burton is to be re-signed with the organization for a second season.
According to a quote from Chris Rice, Team President of Kaulig Racing, the company is currently in the process of upper management changes, and isn’t leaving for any reasons related to performance or finances, but rather have chosen to exit the sport. However, Rice didn’t close the door to the possibility of the company returning down the road, saying “But they’ll come back, it’s just a matter of time.”
It's getting completely out of #NASCAR amid changes among its executives.
Quote below: pic.twitter.com/4nmGWcN0DQ
— Daniel McFadin (@danielmcfadin) September 21, 2021
In seasons prior, Burton has struggled to find the funding to run full-time in any of NASCAR’s National Series, something he’d only done twice before this year. State Water Heaters, LS Tractors, and Rocky Boots have all been loyal sponsors of the journeyman, but the chances those three companies make up a full-time slate for Burton seem low.
The other implication of Nutrien decided to leave NASCAR, is Kaulig Racing’s NASCAR Xfinity Series program for 2022, and the number of entries they’ll field. If sponsorship isn’t located for the entry, it’s quite possible the team could downsize to a two-car operation for 2022.