Photo: Aaron Bearden

Harrison Burton Eager for ARCA Wins on Diverse Summer Stretch

By Aaron Bearden, Open Wheel Editor

Harrison Burton’s in an interesting stage of his budding racing career.

At 17 years old, the son of NASCAR veteran Jeff Burton is too young to leap up to the Camping World Truck Series full-time. Burton has already conquered the K&N Pro Series East – he’s the defending champion – and his nine-race Truck schedule for Kyle Busch Motorsports kept him from picking another tour to to contest for the championship in 2018.

The North Carolinian is an upcoming prospect with wins ranging from Bristol Motor Speedway in K&N East to the World Series of Asphalt championship at New Smyrna Speedway in Super Late Models.

But until he turns 18 in October, all Burton can do is chase trophies, gain experience and build his racing resume. That’s led to a wild summer schedule for the Toyota prospect, albeit one he’s grateful for.

“I’ll be pretty busy,” Burton told Motorsports Tribune. “I’ll race Pocono (Raceway) with the ARCA (Racing) Series. I’ll race with the Trucks some, too. In August I’ll be at Bristol. Then I’ll race New Hampshire in the K&N car.

“I’ll be jumping around a bit, having a lot of fun and doing what I love. I can’t ask for much more than that.”

The pursuit of weekly racing led Burton to Iowa Speedway last Saturday night with ARCA for his fifth start of the tour’s 2018 season.

His run was nothing special, at least not by the standards he’s established. A sixth-place finish in the Fans With Benefits 150 served as the NASCAR Next member’s second-worst run of the season, and placed him fourth out of five MDM Motorsports entries in the race.

Teammate Sheldon Creed went on to win the event, with Chase Purdy and Zane Smith following in third and fourth, respectively.

“It was just really tough,” Burton admitted. “We didn’t unloaded very good, worked our butts off and got it fairly good for the start of the race, and then kind of tuned ourselves out a bit. But we’ll be back and better. I’m ready to go win another one, that’s for sure.”

The young star’s brief ARCA run has seen an interesting mix in 2018, with a combination of series standalone events at tracks like Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville and Toledo Speedway mixed in with NASCAR and Verizon IndyCar Series companion races at Pocono, Gateway Motorsports Park and Iowa.

A quick glance at the ARCA field would likely make the casual fan assume Burton to be a favorite to win most races, but his full-time MDM teammates have proven to be a difficult test thus far. Burton has just one win in his five 2018 starts, coming at Pocono in June.

The challenge has been fierce, but Burton’s enjoyed the opportunity. He just hopes he can match the tempo set by teammates Creed and Smith through the first half of the season.

“It’s fun,” he said of running with MDM Motorsports. “You come out and you know you have a shot, and that’s all you can ask for. I know that Sheldon (Creed)’s on a hot streak, and Zane (Smith)’s had a hot streak.

“We won one race, but that’s not quite a hot streak. But hopefully we can fire off on a streak of our own and rattle off a couple wins in a row.”

Burton will be back with MDM Motorsports in ARCA when the field heads back to Pocono on July 27.

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Aaron Bearden is a Contributing Writer for Motorsports Tribune, handling coverage of both the Verizon IndyCar Series and ABB FIA Formula E Championship. A native Hoosier, Bearden has attended races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since he was three years old. He can be found on social media at @AaronBearden93.