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NASCAR on NBC podcast, Episode IX: Jeff Burton, Eddie Gossage

Pure Michigan 400 - Practice

BROOKLYN, MI - AUGUST 15: Jeff Burton, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 15, 2014 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

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On the day of Mark Martin’s last NASCAR race – the 2013 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway – Jeff Burton visited his old friend while confronting a grim reality.

It might be Burton’s last race, too.

“I went down to see him, and I started crying,” Burton said on the ninth episode of the NASCAR on NBC podcast, which was released Wednesday morning. “Walking back to my car, I couldn’t help it. I knew how hard he had worked. I knew the things we had done together. I didn’t know what was happening with me. I wanted to experience what he was experiencing.”

The retirement plan didn’t work quite how it had been envisioned by the NASCAR veteran, who had wanted to race for one more full season in 2014 before retiring to join NBC Sports. But he also explains on the podcast why the timing still couldn’t have worked any better for him and his new and former employers.

It’s one of many insightful anecdotes and perspectives offered by Burton, who brings analysis to the daily “NASCAR America” on NBCSN and will return to the booth with Rick Allen and Steve Letarte in July to call the final 20 Sprint Cup races of the season.

Among the topics discussed by the South Boston, Virginia, native who scored 21 victories in NASCAR’s premier series in a career stretching from 1993-2014:

--Putting Kyle Busch’s victory at Martinsville Speedway and the likelihood of the defending series champion winning at every track (“He’s in uncharted territory. There’s nothing to compare it to, and that’s what makes it difficult.”);

--The mental anguish that has been Matt Kenseth’s 2016 season (“They can put their shoes on, but they can’t tie them. They just can’t seem to finish a race off.”);

--The postrace media obligations of a Cup driver;

--What the transition to being in the media has entailed;

--How does a driver know when to retire? (“I didn’t.”);

--Why the 2006 Chase still haunts him;

--What’s new for NBC Sports’ NASCAR coverage in 2016;

--Who the favorites are at Texas Motor Speedway, where NASCAR races this weekend.

Wednesday marks 19 years since Burton won the inaugural Sprint Cup race at Texas, and he’ll be inducted Thursday night into the track’s Hall of Fame as its first two-time winner.

Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage was on hand to present Burton with that first winner’s trophy, and he provides his memories from the past 19 years during the second half of the podcast, including those inauspicious first two seasons.

Texas Motor Speedway Media Day

FORT WORTH, TX - MARCH 19: Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage speaks during the press conference for the unveiling of “Big Hoss” the largest HD video board in the world at Texas Motor Speedway on March 19, 2014 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Gary Miller/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

Gary Miller

“I don’t know who said a good thing about this place” when it opened, cracked Gossage, noting he “spent tens of thousands of dollars in therapy trying to forget it.” Other topics:

--The moment he couldn’t tell if Jeff or Ward Burton won the first race;

--How Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s opinion changed Texas’ surface;

--The impact of the new lower downforce package;

--Gossage’s case for 500-mile races;

--The impact of the absence of Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart on ticket sales, and why Gossage is optimistic about the future stars of NASCAR.

You can listen to the podcast by clicking below or download and subscribe to it on iTunes by clicking here. The free subscription will provide automatic downloads of new episodes to your smartphone. It also is available on Stitcher by clicking here.

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