Harrison Burton focused on winning to make Xfinity title race


Last October at Texas Motor Speedway, Noah Gragson looked set to turn the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs upside down.

Gragson, who entered the race last in the Round of 8, was on the verge of winning and moving on to the Championship 4.

But in the final laps, Harrison Burton hunted Gragson down. Then, off Turn 4 on the final lap, Burton passed Gragson and won the race.

“There were some playoff guys that gave me high fives after that … Because I won and Noah didn’t,” Burton recalled with a laugh Wednesday in a media teleconference.

Playing the spoiler was all Burton could do that day. He had been eliminated from the playoffs in the opening Round of 12.

But Saturday (3 p.m. ET, NBC), Burton returns to Texas in playoff contention. A 15th-place finish in last week’s elimination race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval was good enough to advance to the Round of 8.

Burton will start the round nine points below the cutline. His Round of 12 was not spectacular. He had the worst average finish (16.7) and the lowest point total (83) of the eight drivers who advanced.

But Burton is the only one of the group with wins at multiple Round of 8 tracks. One week after his win at Texas last October, he won again at Martinsville Speedway.

With AJ Allmendinger (+34 above the cutline) and Austin Cindric (+28) in decent shape atop the Round of 8 standings, Burton’s focus in on winning over the next three weeks to have a title shot in the Nov. 6 season finale at Phoenix Raceway.

“You can’t expect to point your way in from this round,” he said Wednesday. “If you do, I think you’ve gotten, maybe not lucky, but you’ve had a really good few days and didn’t end up winning. But if you do point your way in, you’re gonna have to execute perfectly.

“Having a win in this round is huge, and it really is gonna change if someone other than those top two guys wins a race early. It can really change the cutline and who’s on the bubble. .. It’s all up in the air. No one’s really safe in this round.”

Saturday’s race at Texas will have an interesting wrinkle. Resin will be placed on the 1.5-mile oval, which has been treated with traction compound in recent years.

Burton and the other Xfinity drivers competed with a resin/traction compound “mix” in August at Michigan International Speedway.

When asked about that race, Burton said once the resin heated up, drivers were able to make speed along the top of the track. He expects a similar situation at Texas.

“We saw in the (Michigan) Cup race where they were searching for grip up there and got it rolling really good, so I expect it to come into play pretty quick,” Burton said. “I’m not sure how quick. Hopefully, it’s ready on Lap 1 because I’m on the outside (starting eighth) and probably will be in it.

“… Obviously, we’ve done it, but it’s unpredictable to know exactly what mixture of it will be and how it will affect the race cars.”

Meanwhile, as Burton pursues a championship, he’s also been preparing for his move next season to the Cup Series. He will take over the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford, replacing Matt DiBenedetto.

Burton has stuck around to observe some Cup races this season and has often listened to Kurt Busch‘s team radio while doing so. That’s because Burton’s spotter, Tyler Green, also serves the same role for Busch in the Cup Series. Next season, Green will again be Burton’s spotter in Cup.

“Listening to (Green) and how he operates in a Cup scenario is good and trying to build our relationship as much as a possible is really important,” Burton said. “As you know, with this new car coming, it’s gonna be a lot in the driver’s hands.

“Having every single resource that makes you go faster in tune with you is, obviously, really good.”

Portland Xfinity race results, driver points

Portland Xfinity results
Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Cole Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when the top three cars made contact and went on to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Portland International Raceway. Custer is the 10th different winner in 13 races this season.

MORE: Portland Xfinity race results

MORE: Driver points after Portland Xfinity race

JR Motorsports took the next three spots: Justin Allgaier placed second, Sam Mayer was third and Josh Berry was fourth. Austin Hill completed the top five.

John Hunter Nemechek remains the points leader after 13 races. He has a 14-point lead on Hill. Nemechek leads Allgaier by 44 points.

Cole Custer wins Xfinity race at Portland in overtime


Cole Custer held off Justin Allgaier at the finish to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race in overtime at Portland International Raceway. It is Custer’s first victory of the season.

JR Motorsports placed second, third and fourth with Allgaier, Sam Mayer and Josh Berry. Austin Hill finished fifth.

MORE: Race results, driver points

Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when Parker Kligerman, who restarted third, attempted to pass Allgaier, who was leading. Sheldon Creed was on the outside of Allgaier. All three cars made contact entering Turn 1, allowing Custer to slip by. Creed finished seventh. Kligerman placed 14th.

Custer won the second stage when John Hunter Nemechek made contact with Creed’s car while racing for the lead on the final lap of the stage. The contact spun Creed and Custer inched by Nemechek at the line.

Early in the final stage, Creed gained revenge with contact that spun Nemechek, who went on to finish 10th. A few laps later, Nemechek and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Sammy Smith had issues. Smith spun Nemechek. After getting back around, Nemechek quickly caught Smith and turned into Smith’s car, damaging it.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Despite the contact on the overtime restart, runner-up Justin Allgaier managed to score his fourth consecutive top-three finish. … Sam Mayer’s third-place finish is his best on a road course. … Austin Hill’s fifth-place finish gives him four consecutive top-five results.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Daniel Hemric finished 33rd after a fire in his car. … Riley Herbst placed 32nd after an engine issue. After opening the season with six top 10s in a row, Herbst has gone seven races in a row without a top 10.

NEXT: The series competes June 10 at Sonoma Raceway (8 p.m. ET on FS1).

Truck race results at WWT Raceway: Grant Enfinger wins


Grant Enfinger took the lead when the leaders wrecked in the final laps and held off the field in overtime to win Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway.

It is Enfinger’s second win in the last five races. He also collected a $50,000 bonus for winning the Triple Truck Challenge.

MORE: Truck race results

MORE: Driver points after WWT Raceway

Christian Eckes finished second and was followed by Stewart Friesen, Carson Hocevar and Chase Purdy.

Ty Majeski and Zane Smith wrecked while racing for the lead with six laps to go. Majeski, running on the inside of Smith, slid up the track and clipped Smith’s truck. Both hit the wall. That put Enfinger in the lead.

Smith finished 20th. Majeski placed 30th.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Grant Enfinger

STAGE 2 WINNER: Stewart Friesen

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Grant Enfinger’s victory is his fourth top 10 in the last five races. … Carson Hocevar’s fourth-place finish is his fourth consecutive top-five result. … Stewart Friesen’s third-place finish moved him into a playoff spot with four races left in the regular season. … Matt DiBenedetto‘s sixth-place finish is his third consecutive top 10. … Jesse Love finished ninth in his series debut.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ty Majeski had a chance to take the points lead with series leader Corey Heim out because of illness, but Majeski’s 30th-place finish after running at the front most of the day, leaves him behind Heim. … Hailie Deegan finished 32nd after contact sent her truck into the wall hard. … After finishing a career-high third last week at Charlotte, Dean Thompson placed 34th Saturday due to an engine issue.

NEXT: The series races June 23 at Nashville Superspeedway (8 p.m. ET on FS1)

Xfinity starting lineup at Portland: Sheldon Creed wins pole


Sheldon Creed scored his first career Xfinity Series pole by taking the top spot for Saturday’s race at Portland International Raceway.

Creed, making his 50th career series start, earned the pole with a lap of 95.694 mph on the 1.97-mile road course.

MORE: Portland Xfinity starting lineup

Cole Custer will start second with a lap of 95.398 mph. He is followed by Josh Berry (94.242 mph), John Hunter Nemechek (95.127) and Charlotte winner Justin Allgaier (94.897). Road racing specialist Jordan Taylor, driving for Kaulig Racing, qualified sixth at 94.772 mph.

The green flag is scheduled to wave 4:46 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1.