Harrison Burton looks to extend Xfinity’s best rookie start since 2005

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What a difference a year makes.

In 2019, seven races into the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season, Harrison Burton had four top 10s and two top fives while racing for Kyle Busch Motorsports, arguably the best team in the series.

By the end of a very disappointing year, Burton would be winless in his only full-time season on the circuit.

Flashforward to June. With seven races down in the Xfinity Series season, the son of NBC Sports analyst Jeff Burton is putting together a historic campaign.

Entering today’s Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Harrison Burton is the lone driver to have finished in the top 10 in all seven races. That includes winning at Auto Club Speedway in March to claim his first career victory in a national NASCAR series race.

His fourth-place finish Monday at Bristol made Burton just the second Xfinity Series rookie to ever finish in the top 10 through seven races. The first was Carl Edwards in 2005. That season Edwards finished in the top 10 in the first nine races.

Burton is also the first Xfinity Series rookie of the year candidate – and the fifth driver overall – to ever have an average finish better than fifth place through seven races.

“That’s obviously a great thing to have a win to kind of lean back on,” Burton said Thursday. “There are races where I felt like I could have done a better job. There are always things to work on, which is great. That’s something that’s really great about my team. We are really honest with each other – with everyone at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing). It’s ‘Hey, the car needs help here, but here is what I could (have) done too.’ Then you kind of formulate what your plan of attack is for the next week to kind of build on that.

“So yeah, it’s obviously a good start to the season. You want to win every single weekend, and that’s not always completely possible. You try your hardest and try to make it work the best you can. Fortunately, we have a win to kind of lean back on and hopefully, we can get some more.”

Today sees Burton making his first Xfinity start at Atlanta (4:30 p.m. ET on Fox). He’ll start fifth.

He has one Truck Series start on the 1.54-mile track, finishing eighth there last year. That same day, Christopher Bell dominated the Xfinity race at Atlanta while driving Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota. He led 142 of 163 laps before claiming the win.

“My biggest expectation is to just go out and perform like we always do,” Burton said. “I think there is an added bit of pressure with the Dash 4 Cash and things like that are going on that are super exciting. I think my expectations of my race team are at the highest level in any given situation, and for me as well. It starts with the driver and it starts with the crew chief; and then we can all work together and have the right mindset for this race. There’s obviously a little race in the race with the Dash 4 Cash, which is exciting, but the main goal is to win the race and do as well as we can no matter what.”

Xfinity race results, point standings after Bristol

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Chase Briscoe led the final six laps and won Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol for his seventh win of the season.

Briscoe beat Ross Chastain for the win. The top five was completed by Austin Cindric, Harrison Burton and Justin Allgaier.

Click here for the race results.

Playoff standings

The 12-driver field for the playoffs has been set with Briscoe’s win in the regular-season finale.

Brandon Brown placed 12th and clinched the 12th and final spot.

Here are the re-seeded point standings entering the playoffs.

Chase Briscoe – 2,050 points

Austin Cindric – 2,050

Justin Allgaier – 2,033

Noah Gragson – 2,025

Brandon Jones – 2,020

Justin Haley – 2,018

Harrison Burton – 2,014

Ross Chastain – 2,010

Ryan Sieg – 2,002

Michael Annett – 2,002

Riley Herbst – 2,001

Brandon Brown – 2,000

Click here for the re-seeded standings.

Click here for the normal point standings.

Chase Briscoe wins Xfinity race at Bristol Motor Speedway

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Chase Briscoe took the lead with six laps to go and won Friday night’s Xfinity Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, which marked the end of the regular season.

Briscoe passed Austin Cindric to assume the lead and went unchallenged to the checkered flag. The victory is his series-leading seventh of the season.

“I was so mad after last week (at Richmond),” Briscoe told NBCSN. “I told all the guys there ain’t no way we’re getting beat today. I was so mad after how we ran last week and I get on the internet all the time and see guys count us out after one bad race and I know what this team is capable. … I finished second here the last two races and I wanted to win here so bad and it’s awesome that I can actually celebrate it with all these race fans.”

The top five was completed by Ross Chastain, Cindric, Harrison Burton and Justin Allgaier.

More: Race results, playoff standings

Allgaier dominated the early portion of the race, leading 126 laps and winning the first two stages. But he lost the lead for good in the pits during the Stage 2 break.

Brandon Brown finished 12th and clinched the 12th and final playoff spot.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

STAGE 2 WINNER: Justin Allgaier

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Ross Chastain led three times for 117 laps, but had to settle for his fifth runner-up finish of the season without a win … Austin Cindric earned his 13th top-10 finish in the last 14 races … Harrison Burton earned his 13th top five of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Brett Moffitt finished 27th after he had to pit three times in the opening laps and was penalized for taking fuel before the competition caution … BJ McLeod finished 34th after he was eliminated in a multi-car wreck that began when he made contact with teammate Jeffrey EarnhardtMichael Annett finished 31st and Joe Graf Jr. placed 27th after they were involved in an incident on Lap 120.

QUOTE OF THE RACE: “I hit pit road and I wanted to cry.” – Ross Chastain after he finished second for the fifth time this year. He is winless entering the playoffs.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Xfinity playoffs open at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sept. 26 on NBCSN.

 

Fans not allowed at Las Vegas races

Fans not allowed
Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Spectators will be not be allowed for any of the NASCAR playoff races next weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the track announced Friday night.

A press release said only essential personnel will be allowed to attend the Cup, Xfinity and Truck playoff races there.

“To say we’re disappointed that we will conduct the South Point 400 playoff weekend without fans would be a gross understatement,” said Las Vegas Motor Speedway President Chris Powell. “Our staff has been working – many of them remotely – since the February Pennzoil 400 to prepare the speedway for our playoff tripleheader.

“But we must adhere to Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak’s directive that limits gatherings due to COVID-19.  While we disagree with this policy, we have no choice but to oblige.  We certainly regret this situation for the thousands of race fans who won’t be able to attend our NASCAR-weekend events.”

Nevada’s re-opening plan does not permit fans at sporting events, concerts. Groups are limited to 50 or fewer people.

The Las Vegas Raiders announced last month that they would not have fans at any of the team’s home games in its inaugural season there.

The Truck playoff race will be at 9 p.m. ET Sept. 25 on FS1. The Xfinity playoff opener will be at  7:30 p.m. ET Sept. 26 on NBCSN. The Cup playoff race will be 7 p.m. ET Sept. 27 on NBCSN.

Fans holding tickets for those events will be contacted by the speedway ticket services department to discuss credits for future races or refunds.

Pit crew change for Alex Bowman, Jimmie Johnson teams

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Hendrick Motorsports teammates Alex Bowman and Jimmie Johnson each will have a pit crew change for Saturday night’s playoff race at Bristol.

The change is the result of an injury to one pit crew member.

Dustin Lineback, jackman for Bowman’s team is out with an injury, the team stated. Kyle Tudor, who has been Johnson’s jackman, moves over to that role for Bowman’s team. Eric Ludwig, a backup for Hendrick Motorsports, moves up to be the jackman for Johnson.

MORE: Saturday Cup race at Bristol: Start time, forecast, lineup

Bowman enters the elimination race 27 points ahead of teammate William Byron, the first driver outside a transfer spot to the second round. Bowman opened the playoffs by finishing sixth in the Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. He followed that by placing ninth at Richmond. Bowman was collected in a crash and finished 37th in the May Bristol race.

Johnson, who is in his final full-time Cup season, seeks his first victory of the season. He finished third at Bristol in May.