There's not one racer who goes to an event not visualizing themselves winning or if nothing else, making their way to the championship round. As a team, with more than one car in the same class, that thought would then turn to the best case scenario of team cars together in the final, taking it all and if getting one car there wasn't tough enough, managing the feat of two with all the obstacles to overcome and 'planets to align' for it to happen, the odds against it happening are greater yet. For the Burton Racing team, which consists of father Scott and son Brad, they made the ultimate happen when they put their pair of K&N early '70s Formula Firebirds in the Stock final during the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at "The Strip" at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Brad ran an 11.153 on his 11.14 dial and picked up his second NHRA National Event Wally.
"Everything worked out perfectly and somehow we both ended up in the final. It was a way cool deal," said Las Vegas Stock Eliminator Champion, Brad Burton. "Our first goal is to always try to be on opposite sides of the ladder, that's the first step into making that happen is the qualifying game. As hard as we try, it's tough to make it to a final together and I think they said that was only the fifth time that a father-son had run in a final together like that."
Brad qualified his 455ci '72 Formula E/SA ride in at number eleven on the sheet and his dad Scott came in at number 4 with his B/SA '70 Formula and its 400ci motor. "It was pretty difficult for this race to get on opposite sides of the ladder," Brad confessed. "They were running class so everyone is changing everything on their cars and it just kept juggling everything around. More or less, if we can just avoid each other for two or three rounds then that is kind of a win. We try to qualify in the top ten and near each other and then that will usually work out with the way the ladder works that we can avoid each other for quite a few rounds. Being on the opposite sides of the ladder is quite a bonus, but it's nearly impossible to set yourself up for that every time."
Brad qualified his 455ci '72 Formula E/SA ride in at number eleven on the sheet.
The younger Burton, who is an engineer for Boeing and resides in Kirkland, Washington, had a really good feeling going into round one. "Well when the ladder came out and I saw I had a heads up run, I felt really good about it," he said. "My dad is our engine builder and he does a lot of R&D on our stuff so we were pretty confident going into that heads up race that we were going to come out on top."
Brad easily made his way past John Irving in the first round heads up race when Irving went for it on the tree and turned it red. That set him up for Boyce in round two, who also turned it way red and then Brad came out on the good side of a big double breakout in round three over another Jon Irving in his '78 Aspen Wagon. "With the weather and wind the way it was, being able to help each other out really helped," Brad pointed out. "Depending on who ran first, we could share the information about our runs to each other and hopefully that would help me or Dad make decisions about how we would run or dial our car for that round."
Over on the other side of the ladder, father Scott Burton, who is a pilot for United Airlines and based in Boulder, Colorado, was battling his way to the final when he took out Darrell Dietz, Paul Cannan and Randy Bursell in the first three rounds. "Every pass it was difficult to know how to dial the cars," said Brad. "The wind was gusting up and down and different directions and I mean from pair to pair, the wind was different. It was hard to put a number on there that you really felt comfortable with. Once I got past fourth round, which was fellow K&N racer Jimmy DeFrank, I thought to myself that hey this could happen."
Brad gave up the starting line advantage to DeFrank's nice .004 light in round four but drove his K&N Formula down the desert strip and put it right on his dial for the win and in the process earned the bye for the next round and right on into the semi-finals. "When all of these rounds just started coming together for me and my dad, it just started getting really exciting," he explained. "My dad had a chance at getting a bye into the finals and I knew our chances of being able to meet up were getting better and better."
The K&N air filter is definitely a very nice looking filter inside.
Scott Burton, who finished number seven in the 2011 NHRA national Stock Eliminator points standings, pointed out a few rounds during the event where he was really glad he decided not to take the stripe. "Several rounds there where I would run up on the guys and think, 'oh I'm not going to go around this guy and just cut 'em loose and my win light comes on.' Round four was a pretty big round against Jeff Interlicchia and then beating Michael Brand in round five which got me the bye into the final. That was also another really big round. Anytime you come up on one of those rounds that is a potential two-round race like that one with Michael, you need to be able to rise to the occasion."
While they may have helped each other out all throughout the event, one must wonder how these teammates who know so much about the other car, the other driver and their racing "MO" would approach their round against each other. Not that they haven't faced each other before but this was, after all, a NHRA National event title on the line. "Yeah, we joked around in the lanes and were having a good time, but when we put the helmets on and get in the car, sure I want to beat him," Brad said of the final against his dad. "It does make it tough because he knows how I dial my car and how I drive and I know about him. We actually have similar characteristics in our driving, so [laughs] it was kind of like racing myself."
"When Brad and I went into that final together, well with being Dad, there was no way I could lose," Scott admitted. "I knew I was going to win no matter what on that deal. I was actually pretty relaxed going into that final. If it would have been somebody else over there I think I would have certainly been a little more up for it. I certainly didn't give it to him, that wasn't the intent. I was probably not as focused on that round as I could have been."
As the tree came down, Brad took a .028 starting line advantage and turned it into a good race at the stripe, running an 11.153 on his 11.14 dial and picked up his second NHRA National Event Wally, his first coming just earlier this year at the NHRA season opener in Pomona. "It was just a perfect weekend and a win-win situation for our whole family," said Scott of his son's win and his runner-up. "We have raced a lot over the years together with bracket races and everything else and we have ended up in the finals together quite a few times. We are five and six now. I've won five and he's won six. And you can bet the next time, I'll be working a little harder not to hand it to him," he added with a chuckle.
"You know Dad and I not only race very much alike, but we also have the same opinion when it comes to the products that we use and we always want to support the products and people that support us and our sport," said the newest NHRA Las Vegas Stock Eliminator champ. "K&N has always been great to the sportsman racer in every sense of the way. We run the K&N oil filters and air filters and even K&N fuel filter. K&N continues to innovate and always looking for ways to make their products even better and that is very important to us."
Scott, who takes care of building the teams engines, had this to add about their choice to make the move to K&N years ago. "We started playing around with filters years ago. I dyno engines and I started cutting these oil filters apart, you know, to look for metal shavings or whatever to make sure the health of the engine is good. When you start looking at the insides of these filters and you realize that a lot of them are not very well constructed. The K&N oil filter is definitely a very nice looking filter inside."
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