By: Ashley McCubbin
Harrison Burton has certainly been put together a memorable year in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, having visited victory lane on two occasions. After a ninth at Darlington Raceway in the spring, he hopes to change that into a W this time around.
“Darlington is one of the toughest tracks that we go to on the schedule,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “You hear people say to just race the race track. You go to somewhere else and you’re worried about someone trying to make a move on your competitor, and trying to outsmart them and make a move they wouldn’t expect. Darlington, it’s like Gosh I just need to get around this place in the first place, and then you start adding the race craft and things like that you need to do there.
“For me, the biggest challenge has been passing, finding the right time to pass at Darlington. Going into turn one and two side-by-side is always kind of scary; it never seems to work out great for one of the two. So, when do push the issue? When you do not push the issue? There are a lot of things that can go wrong at Darlington in a hurry.
“So I think the balance of trying to be aggressive and trying to be beat these guys and take what you deserve, versus let’s just play this safe and make it to the next corner is tough at Darlington.”
Being able to score a victory would mean a lot for Burton due to a couple reasons, including the fact he will be running a throwback paint scheme to his father Jeff.
“Yeah, it’s really cool,” he commented. “My dad won a lot of Xfinity races in that paint scheme. It used to the Gain car – now it’s the DEX Highlighter car, and I’m just excited. My mom (Kim) always said that she loved that car as she could always see where my dad was on the race track all the time and I just grew up hearing about that paint scheme a lot and it was honestly one of my favorites growing up due to how many stories I heard about it. Now to be able to run it as my first Darlington Throwback weekend, I’ve done a throwback before in ARCA – which was my dad’s late model growing up, but now it’s first real deal at Darllington. It’s awesome to do this scheme that he won at Darlington in an Xfinity Series race and do it here.”
Burton noted the scheme easily came together, thanks to co-operation from DEX Imaging in always being open to different designs by Burton himself.
“The main paint scheme, me and my dad just thought of what would look cool,” he added. “We thought a plain white car, with black sideskirts and red accents would look good. So we did that and then this weekend, a fan rendered up the paint scheme on twitter. I didn’t have a JGR rendering, but I literally sent Dan Doyle who’s the CEO at DEX a text and said, ‘Hey, this is my dad’s car from back in the day. Here’s a picture that a fan made. Can we do this for the throwback weekend?’ and he said, ‘Sure, do it.’
“DEX has been really cool to me to have my own personality on my cars and the throwback weekend, too.”
Certainly a good run this weekend could offer some momentum for Burton as the Xfinity Series playoffs are set to kick off just around the corner.
“The biggest thing is to me to treat the races that we’re in right now as the playoffs,” he expressed. “At Daytona, you saw me and my teammates at JGR working together, trying something new. It felt weird letting people in and them letting me in and not getting hung out to dry. We worked better as a team because that was something we felt we needed to be better at in the playoffs.
“Now we’re going to Darlington, we’re treating every stage like it’s playoff points, every position like it’s a point. Because when you’re in that rhythm going into the playoffs, you’ll be ready to go; it won’t feel so foreign. Winning a race is great because you get that tension out that, but it’s a disadvantage if you don’t remain discipline. You have to treat every position like its life or death.”
With the competition being even across the board, it’s anybody guess who will be part of the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway in November.
“I want to say that all of my teammates have a good chance, even though Riley (Herbst) is the last out of us on points,” Burton commented. “He has shown speed at places that will be key in the playoffs. It’s hard to say; that’s what makes the Xfinity Series so fun.
“Obviously, I am going to put myself in there and then the rest of the them can figure it out – as long as I’m there, I’m excited. It’s such a tough field and Brandon (Jones) won at Phoenix. If he gets to the Final Four, he’ll be dangerous. We finished second there, so we’ll be dangerous. It’s going to be fun to figure it out. I wish I could tell you because I would be a really smart guy and get paid to do something else.”