Harrison Burton relishes an ambitious schedule of several teams, series and voices in 2017

Leave a comment

Harrison Burton will have many voices in his ear this season.

Competing in four series with three teams in more than 30 races across NASCAR, ARCA and Super Late Models, a trio of crew chiefs will be guiding Burton as he attempts to rebound from a disappointing 2016 season.

It might seem overwhelming and perhaps discombobulating to have so many feedback echoes as the 16-year-old makes the leap into a partial schedule in the Camping World Truck Series.

But the son of NBC Sports analyst Jeff Burton takes the opposite tack.

“It’s going to be an advantage,” Burton told NBC Sports. “I get to learn from so many different people. As a young driver, it’s good to have a broad base that you can get tons of knowledge from, that’s not even from my house.

“My dad obviously knows a lot about racing, and he’s been doing it for many years, but nobody knows everything, so it’s always good to have second opinions. In this case, I have third and fourth opinions, which is really good. I think the more knowledge I can soak up the better.”

After announcing a six-race schedule with Kyle Busch Motorsports last month, Burton revealed Wednesday he also will compete for a championship in the NASCAR K&N East Series while running selected ARCA and Late Model races. He will drive for MDM Motorsports in ARCA/K&N and for Fury Racing in SLM.

Burton will be carrying six sponsors (Dex Imaging, Toyota, Morton Buildings, Hunt Brothers Pizza, Ollie’s Bargain Outlet and Rheem) across the series, which he will be balancing while carrying a full course load as a high school sophomore slated to graduate in 2019.

He concedes the racing career is a difficult balancing act with being a teenager. He attended a high school basketball game Tuesday night to be in the social routine and routinely stays two to three hours after school to make up for the many Fridays he will miss during the season.

“It’s really, really tough to balance it,” he said. “It’s hard to differentiate which is more important, right? Because I want to be racing all the time. And my parents, which they’re probably right, want me to be in school and be focused on that as well. So it’s a hard balance for me, but I’m starting to figure it out as the years go on.”

Burton also will be learning on the job in the truck series this year, though he has experience at some tracks he will race (Iowa Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Dover International Speedway). He is optimistic about taking a KBM truck to victory lane as a rookie and plans to compete for a championship in K&N.

“My expectations are the sky’s the limit, every aspect that I’m racing in, I have a great team around me,” he said. “We had a lot of misfortune and bad luck out of our hands (in 2016), and I also made some mistakes. To look back at last year, it was probably one of the toughest years of my racing career, if not the toughest year.

“It seemed like every week something would go wrong. I got to know how much I wanted to do well in this sport. I think we’re going to be really competitive this year in everything I race in. I’m not nervous about saying that. I’m really confident in my guys and myself.”

The low point of last season was the final race. Burton had a parts failure while contending for a victory in the prestigious Snowball Derby, which has catapulted other prospects such as Erik Jones to high-profile opportunities.

“That was definitely hard on me,” he said. “I’m motivated to get back out there and prove what I can do. I’m very results driven. I want to be bringing home trophies. Last year was really tough. I’m ready to turn that around.”

 

Family affair: Harrison Burton celebrates first K&N Pro Series East win with parents

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Harrison Burton has been to NASCAR’s Victory Lane before. But that was when his dad, NASCAR on NBC analyst Jeff Burton, raced.

Saturday, Harrison Burton was in Victory Lane after winning his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race. Both his mom and dad were there to celebrate his first NASCAR win.

The 16-year-old Burton dominated Saturday’s rain-shortened Zombie Auto 125 at Bristol Motor Speedway, earning praise from current and former NASCAR competitors.

“One of my favorite races I can recall of my dad winning was here at Bristol,’’ Harrison Burton said of his father’s victory in 2008. “Me and my sister were jumping up and down when he won. I was really, really excited to win, and I’m sure he was excited to watch me win.

“It was really cool for me and him both to share a moment like that together. Obviously, my mom, as well, who has traveled the country with me while my dad was racing.’’

So what was the family celebration like this time?

“I didn’t say much,’’ Harrison Burton, a sophomore in high school, said. “I was just kind of laughing and smiling. I gave my mom a big hug and my dad a big hug as well. I think I lifted my mom off the ground. We were just pretty excited.’’

Harrison Burton led 68 of the 70 laps run before rain ended the race early. Ruben Garcia Jr. finished second. Spencer Davis was third, Hunter Baize placed fourth and Chad Finchum was fifth.

“Me and my crew chief were kind of talking like we wanted to run the whole race and win it that way,’’ Harrison Burton said. “We were confident enough to where we felt like our car was good enough that we could win the race. I felt like it would have been kind of cool to cross the line under dry conditions and do it that way. (But) I’ll take it. I was pretty happy when it started raining to be honest. I never wanted it to rain so bad in my life.’’

Harrison Burton leads the series standings with 129 points. He’s followed by Baize (114 points), Todd Gilliland (113), Ronnie Bassett Jr. (111) and Garcia (105).

The race will shown on NBCSN at 11 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 27.

 and on Facebook

Jeremy Clements receives swollen left eye after punch from Ross Chastain

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Jeremy Clements said he was stunned when Ross Chastain “socked me” during a red flag delay during Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinty race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Chastain and Clements had contact during the race and then Clements hit Chastain during a caution for rain. The race soon was stopped and drivers exited their cars. Clements came up from behind Chastain.

“I put my hand on his back and turned him around,’’ Clements said. “I had no intention of hitting him, and he turned around and socked me. I had no intention of fighting the guy.’’

Said Chastain: “Somebody grabbed me and turned me around and I saw red eyes and a face that wasn’t going to talk.

“It was a reaction on my part. I’ve never punched anybody in my life. I don’t know what I’d do if I could do it all over again. I can’t let people come up and grab me. It’s happened before in NASCAR and out of NASCAR. I felt like I had to stand my ground.’’

Clements went to the infield care center to ice his left eye.

“It was swollen up pretty good,’’ Clements said. “He did punch me.”

He returned and finished 17th. Chastain finished 31st after he was later involved in an accident.

NASCAR met with both drivers after the race and will review the matter to decide if there are to be any penalties.

Chastain and Clements both said they’ve had run-ins with each other through the years.

“I’ve talked to him before and it doesn’t get us anywhere,’’ Clements said after the race and before meeting with NASCAR. “I don’t know what to do. I try to race him clean all the time. He cuts you no slack and sometimes we’re running for 22nd and 23rd and (he) just door slams you. It’s uncalled for.’’

Chastain said they talked it out in the NASCAR hauler and shook hands.

“I feel bad,’’ Chastain said. “We run against each other. We work together. We buy motors from them. They build our motors, so it’s not good for me to do that. We’re good and on to Richmond.’’

 and on Facebook

Elliott Sadler leads top-three sweep by JR Motorsports in Xfinity points

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Leave a comment

With a season-best fourth-place finish Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway, Elliott Sadler increased his lead in the Xfinity Series points standings.

Sadler leads JR Motorsports teammate William Byron by 16 points.

Justin Allgaier, who trails Sadler by 60 points, gives JR Motorsports the top three spots in the standings.

The top five is completed by Ryan Reed (76 points behind Sadler) and Daniel Hemric (80 points behind Sadler).

Click here for the full points standings.

Results and stats for Xfinity Series race at Bristol won by Erik Jones

Leave a comment

Erik Jones led the final 21 laps in order to win the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver outran Ryan Blaney and Daniel Suarez for his second win of the year and his second in a row.

The top five was filled out by Elliott Sadler and Daniel Hemric.

Click here for full race results.