By: Ashley McCubbin
Harrison Burton may be focused on having a good run at Kansas Speedway this Saturday, but some fans are still stuck on the scuffle that happened post-race between him and Noah Gragson at Kentucky Speedway.
Following a late-race restart battling for eighth, Gragson would get loose going into turn three, sliding up the track and taking Burton up into the wall with him. Both were able to continue to the checkered, finishing seventh and 12th respectively.
Burton approached Gragson on pit road following the event, ultimately resulting in a confrontation between the pair.
For Burton, it marked his first actual post-race fight on pit road, even with having approached and talked with other drivers post-race before.
“I think the hardest thing about that is you both have an understanding of where the other person is coming from, but you both feel like you are right,” Burton said on Wednesday. “You both feel like you are in the right and so moving on, I don’t expect to race Noah (Gragson) any differently than anyone else because I race everyone as hard as I can.
“I’m trying to just race everyone the same, and hopefully I get that same respect back. I felt like I didn’t in that certain instance, so that’s why I was frustrated and mad. In Texas, we raced around each other, and it was a non-issue. It wasn’t something I was too worried about. You just have to move on. I think it’s a good learning experience for everyone.”
Admittedly frustrated that night, Burton says he can now look back and laugh at the scuffle, enjoying the funny things shared by fans on Twitter.
“Maybe a couple of years ago, maybe even last year, would have bothered me. But now, I just laugh it off,” he commented. “It’s a hard place to be when you are kind of in the center of conflict. It always seems like it grows after the event. Me and Noah, we fought, that’s it, we are just going to move on and be alright, and then all of a sudden, you realize it’s a lot bigger than that. I was on SportsCenter for not the reason I want to be on SportsCenter. There’s maybe a couple of things that I maybe would have done differently, but I’m still really proud of how I stood up for myself and I’m really proud that my team had my back in that situation.”
The incident ultimately magnified the aggressive style of racing that has become apparent in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year, with several drivers being left frustrated with each other at various times. Justin Haley was even handed an aggressive driving penalty by NASCAR for turning Riley Herbst at Pocono Raceway.
For Burton, though, he feels the aggressive nature has always been there, citing his incidents last season with Austin Cindric and Paul Menard.
“It’s awesome. It puts on great races for the fans,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “Obviously, you don’t want to be the guy that gets taken out because of it, but I think NASCAR as a whole has got more aggressive recently. Last year in the trucks, it was really aggressive, and it ramped up as the season went. The same in Xfinity, and now I think we’ve started aggressive and you see Cup guys making moves that are pretty wild and things you wouldn’t see necessarily back in the day. You wouldn’t see guys side-drafting each other all the way down the front straightaway. But you do have to manage that, and I think you have to factor that into how you race, but I think it’s just NASCAR as a whole.
“Every advantage is such a big deal now. Getting track position when you can is such a big deal now, so it’s putting guys in positions where we have to be aggressive. I think it’s good for the fans, and it’s fun for me.”