Harrison Burton puts Paul Menard wreck in rearview, now it’s on to Pocono

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While he’s looking forward to Saturday’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Pocono Raceway, Harrison Burton still isn’t completely over his run-in at New Hampshire with Paul Menard.

Appearing on Tuesday’s SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “On Track” show with Danielle Trotta and Larry McReynolds, the 18-year-old Burton, son of NBC Sports’ analyst and former NASCAR racer Jeff Burton, spoke more at length about Saturday’s tangle with Menard in the Xfinity Series race.

Honestly, I was completely surprised when I got wrecked,” the younger Burton said. “I didn’t know if (Menard) had done it on purpose or not. It felt like a hard hit, so I figured he did. I was kind of surprised at the time that it happened.

I went back and watched the race when I got home and tried to look at it as objectively as I could and there were two incidents where I had gotten slight contact with Paul in the race. … I made a later move into the corner, but I didn’t come up into him and thought it was just a racing deal where he came down, thinking we was clear and we weren’t. He didn’t see it that way. Then I got into his door a touch at a short track, which I felt was pretty standard NASCAR racing, just a little touch, nothing really too bad and then I got wrecked.

I tried to be objective as a I could and didn’t feel like I did anything that I would go back and change. And that’s just how I saw it. It’s a tough incident because I felt like we had raced clean all day. The whole race, people were very aggressive and banging into each other, which makes for good racing and cool racing and fun racing. But I guess Paul didn’t see it that way and I got wrecked because of it.”

After the race, Harrison Burton went on social media and quickly saw reaction from fans, both for him and also for Menard in their dust-up.

After incidents like that, I try not to scroll through social media and hear about what people have to say about me or other people because there’s a lot of negativity out there sometimes, and that sometimes is just the takeaway,” Burton said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “But, for whatever reason after this race, I figured I’d look to see what people were saying because I was really confused as to why I got wrecked.

“I saw some people side with Paul and that’s what’s great about this sport, fans debating what’s right and wrong. It creates conversation around this sport and I think that’s a good thing. People are talking about racing and that’s good. So overall, I think there’s some good things you can take away from it from looking at social media, but there’s some bad things you can take away from it as well.”

Harrison Burton not only had to read the fallout from his wreck with Menard on social media, he also empathized with his father, Jeff, who called the race on TV.

He went really quiet after that because he didn’t want to interject and say anything that was biased, and I think he did a really good job at that trying to be as neutral as he could be and be the best broadcaster he could be for NBC,” Harrison Burton said. “He had to kind of take his dad hat off that day, did a really good job and handled it well.

I’m sure it was a difficult situation for him up there, but I’m pretty happy with the way he handled it and let me do my own deal.”

Burton has moved on from the incident with Menard and is ready for Saturday’s Truck race at Pocono, a place where he has three previous starts in the ARCA Series, including a win there last year.

I’m excited to go to Pocono and have an opportunity to go race again, especially after something like that, you can put it past you and go do your job again, which is great,” Burton said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Even though he is fifth in the Truck Series’ standings, Burton comes into the race outside a playoff position with three races left — Pocono, Eldora and Michigan.

Five of the eight playoff spots have been locked in by virtue of a win for the driver, with three others (points leader Grant Enfinger, Stewart Friesen and Matt Crafton) ahead of Burton in the standings. Burton is 44 points behind Crafton for the eighth and final playoff spot.

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