Harrison Burton discovered the highs and lows of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee in April.
Harrison Burton is ninth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East standings after 11 races. He has three top 10 finishes.
The 15-year-old rookie driver, one of the NASCAR Next class of drivers, won his first pole of his K&N Pro Series career at one of the toughest stock car racing tracks in the country. He led the first 13 laps of the race. In many ways, it was a breakthrough race for Burton and his team.
“Our best race, it doesn’t show up on paper, was Bristol,” said Burton, who drives for the HScott Motorsports team with Justin Marks. “We were leading the race and qualified on the pole and ended up blowing a motor. We’ve had a lot of things like that happen to us. It made our stats look on paper not where we want them to be. I think that would be our high point.”
Burton said the race at Bristol was the high point of his rookie season in the K&N Pro Series East. It was also his low point. All the hard work his team put into the car and the race didn’t pay off the way he wanted it to.
“It’s tough. Racing is a sport like a roller coaster,” Burton said. “It’s a lot of ups and a lot of downs. It was pretty heartbreaking for me. We struggled in the week before. We broke through and we were leading the race. To have something like that happen was really heartbreaking. It was really tough to deal with. At the same time, we were happy that we had run well. We were also sad that we blew a motor. We were running well and what we did didn’t affect what happened. It was really tough.”
He ended up 23rd in the race at Bristol. The race before, at Greenville Pickens Speedway in South Carolina, he was 15th. He had a rough start to begin the K&N Pro Series East season, with a 13th place finish in the opener at New Smyrna Speedway in Florida. He posted a seventh-place finish at Mobile International Speedway in Alabama in his second K&N Pro Series East start, the one bright spot in his first four races. Learning his way around new tracks in the K&N Pro Series East was only part of the development for Burton. As part of the NASCAR Next class, he was also learning how to deal with the media and delivering for his sponsors and supporters.
“It’s really cool being a part of the program,” Burton said. “I have a lot of friends that were a part of it. I am making friends with a lot of the people that are a part of it that I didn’t know so well. To me that’s what really helped me.”
Harrison Burton, one of the NASCAR Next drivers, won the pole for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway in April.
He added that he learned the business of racing as well as the sport by being a part of the NASCAR Next class.
“It’s kind of tough,” Burton said. “I have done a lot of things that a lot of 15 year olds can’t say they’ve done. I have gone to businesses to ask them for money to help me go race.”
Burton posted his first top-five finish of the season at Columbus Motor Speedway in Ohio. He added a seventh-place finish at New Hampshire International Speedway in the next race. But he had some poor results at Virginia International Raceway, a road course, and Dominion Raceway. He was 11th at Virginia and 21st at Dominion. He said not only was it a challenge learning new race tracks, but the style of some of the other drivers caught him by surprise.
“Something that really surprised me a lot was the aggressiveness of a lot of drivers,” Burton said. “The body styles we have now, it allows you to bump someone without wrecking them. The late models, where I came from, if you hit someone from behind, they’re probably going to spin out. They get the rear tires off the ground. But now I can hit someone and they won’t wreck and you can move on from that. It’s been kind of an adjustment period for me to get used to that.”
Harrison Burton finished fourth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Columbus Motor Speedway in Ohio in July. It is his best finish in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series this season.
He was 26th in the K&N Pro Series race at Iowa Speedway, a race that combined the drivers and teams from the East and West Series. Among the East Series drivers, Burton was 15th. He posted a 12th place finish in the race at Watkins Glen International in New York, another road course. He is ninth in the K&N Pro Series East standings with three races to go.
“I am never really fully happy unless I have won the race,” Burton said. “I’m not really satisfied with top 10. It’s a real competitive series though. It’s pretty cool to be part of the top 10 in points, but to me, I am never satisfied unless I am winning whatever category we’re talking about. I will not say I am satisfied with that, but I will say it’s really hard, it’s really hard to win in this series. That’s for sure.”
The K&N Pro Series East visits Greenville Pickens Speedway again, New Jersey Motor Sports Park, and Dover International Speedway in Delaware before the season ends.
“We just want to be more competitive,” Burton said. “We want to be in position to win races. Even if you’re in position to win the race, you’re not always going to win the race. To me, just getting in position to win, being fast everywhere we go, is the big goal for me.”
Burton said he appreciates having the K&N backing in the series. He said he understands how much K&N’s support means to giving young drivers a chance to gain experience and move up in the world of NASCAR.
“K&N is a huge supporter of the series. It’s really awesome,” Burton said. “We get a lot of support from K&N as far as marketing and getting the name of the series out there. It’s really cool to have a company that’s interested in helping the up-and-coming drivers.
“Without a company like K&N, the series couldn’t happen. If I didn’t have my sponsors, I couldn’t race. K&N has helped every single driver in the K&N East or West field just by being the sponsor. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we love to do.”