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

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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.”

 

Ryan Preece is fastest in final Xfinity practice Friday at Kentucky

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Ryan Preece soared to the top of the speed chart in the final Xfinity practice Friday night at Kentucky Speedway.

Preece covered the 1.5-mile oval with a top speed of 181.629 mph. He hit that speed on his first of 38 laps run during the session.

Justin Allgaier was second (180.777 mph), followed by Spencer Gallagher Jr. (180.114), Tyler Reddick (179.832) and Daniel Hemric (179.712).

Sixth through 10th: Matt Tifft (179.665), who was fastest in the first practice session earlier in the afternoon, William Byron (179.605), Brennan Poole (179.581), Sam Hornish Jr. (179.521) and Brandon Jones (179.521).

Five of the 12 Xfinity playoff contenders ended up in the top 10: Allgaier, Hemric, Tifft, Byron and Poole.

Others playoff contenders on the speed chart were Elliott Sadler (12th, 179.194), Ryan Reed (16th, 178.944), Cole Custer (17th, 178.838), Brendan Gaughan (19th, 178.453), Blake Koch (20th, 178.159), Michael Annett (21st, 178.124) and Jeremy Clements (25th, 176. 286).

Qualifying for Saturday night’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 takes place at 5:30 p.m. ET, with the race set to take the green flag at 8 p.m. ET.

Click here for the full speed chart from the final Xfinity practice.

Starting lineup for Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 NASCAR Cup race at Loudon

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Up until this season, Kyle Busch wasn’t necessarily looked upon as a prolific qualifier.

He earned a career-best three poles in 2013 and 2014.

But that’s nothing compared to 2017, as Busch earned a career-best eighth pole Friday for Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

It’s also his second consecutive pole, having won the pole for last weekend’s playoff-opening race at Chicagoland Speedway.

Kyle Larson was next and will join Busch on the front row Sunday.

As for the other 14 NASCAR Cup playoff contenders: Denny Hamlin (134.763) was third, followed by Ryan Blaney (134.720), Chicagoland winner Martin Truex Jr. (134.188), Kevin Harvick (134.108), Kurt Busch (133.985), Kasey Kahne (133.966), Matt Kenseth (133.589), Jamie McMurray (133.680) and Jimmie Johnson (131.989).

Of the top 12 qualifiers, 11 are playoff drivers. The only non-playoff driver was Erik Jones (eighth, 133.971).

As for the other five playoff contenders, Brad Keselowski was 13th (133.422), Chase Elliott (133.357) was 14th, Austin Dillon was 17th (133.133), Ryan Newman was 18th (133.007) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. qualified 24th (131.628).

Click here for the starting lineup.

 

Kyle Busch gets past Kyle Larson to take Cup pole at Loudon

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In a battle between Kyle and Kyle, it was Kyle Busch who emerged with the pole for Sunday’s ISM Connect 300 Friday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The younger Busch brother was the only driver over 135 mph, taking his 27th career Cup pole with a speed of 135.049 mph.

“Just went out there and gave it what she had,” Busch told NBCSN. “It certainly would be great to finish this out in victory lane on Sunday.

“We knew we were going to have a shot for the pole, just didn’t know if we were going to get it. For as ugly as that session looked or felt from my vantage point, it certainly worked out.”

Busch has now won the pole for the first two playoff races, having won the pole last week at Chicagoland.

What’s more, this is the most prolific season of qualifying for Busch in his career: this is his eighth pole in 2017, most of all drivers in the Cup series and his most in a single season. His previous mark for most poles in a single season was three in both 2013 and 2014.

As for the other Kyle, Kyle Larson, he qualified on the outside of the front row with an effort of 134.911 mph.

“I feel overall that my lap was pretty good,” said Larson, who finished second in the July race at New Hampshire. “The 18 has been real fast, especially in qualifying all year. For us to be second to him is not bad.”

Denny Hamlin (134.763) was third, followed by Ryan Blaney (134.720), Martin Truex Jr. (134.188), Kevin Harvick (134.108), Kurt Busch (133.985), Erik Jones (133.971), Kasey Kahne (133.966), Matt Kenseth (133.589), Jamie McMurray (133.680) and Jimmie Johnson (131.989).

Of the top 12, 11 are in the NASCAR Cup playoffs. The only non-playoff driver was Jones.

As for the other five playoff contenders, Brad Keselowski was 13th (133.422), Chase Elliott (133.357) was 14th, Austin Dillon was 17th (133.133), Ryan Newman was 18th (133.007) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. qualified 24th (131.628).

Elliott and Johnson both wrecked their primary cars in the Cup practice session earlier in the day.

While Johnson was able to get back on-track for that practice session with his back-up car, Elliott qualified cold with his back-up, unable to get back on-track during the morning practice.

Joey Logano did not take a qualifying lap after failing pre-qualifying inspection four times. Logano will start last (40th position) in Sunday’s race at NHMS, which he considers his “home track.”

Click here for the full qualifying grid.

Matt Tifft fastest in first of 2 Xfinity practices at Kentucky Speedway

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Matt Tifft ran 25 laps during Friday afternoon’s first of two NASCAR Xfinity Series practice sessions at Kentucky Speedway.

But it was just one lap that mattered the most, as Tifft (180.427 mph) emerged from the 55-minute practice as the fastest in the 36 cars that took to the track.

Brian Scott was second (179.253 mph), followed by Ryan Preece (178.465), Brandon Jones (178.288), Justin Allgaier (178.271), Ben Kennedy (178.136), Elliott Sadler (177.573), Tyler Reddick (177.544), Spencer Gallagher Jr. (177.503) and Brennan Poole (177.381).

Interestingly enough, only four of the top-10 were playoff contenders. The seven-race Xfinity playoffs begin with Saturday night’s VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300.

There will be one more practice session today from 6:30-7:25 p.m. ET.

Qualifying and the race are Saturday.

Click here for the full practice speed grid.