By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
For the third time in his young NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series career, Harrison Burton equaled his best career finish of third in Friday’s JEGS 200 at Dover International Speedway in Delaware.
The 18-year-old rookie only led a single lap, but the way he put his No. 18 Safelite Auto Glass Toyota Tundra showcased his on-track competitive spirit.
After the caution for Korbin Forrister’s crash on the backstretch, Burton would restart third behind fellow rookie Sheldon Creed and race leader Brett Moffit with just 84 laps to go.
Right out of the gate, Moffit had a bumper length advantage over Creed. That’s when Burton went down low and made it three-wide between he and the top-two. The trio would stay three abreast heading into the third turn until Burton cleared by Moffit, who tucked back in line and also eked out Creed for the lead.
“It’s fun,” Burton on going three-wide for the race lead. “I had an up and down kind of day and was trying to make up for some mistakes in the past. I think that if anyone had the run that I did, they would try it and if not, then I don’t think they should be out here. It’s kind of what race car drivers do, we do things that probably aren’t smart, but they’re fun.
“I enjoy that and enjoy that opportunity to have a truck good enough to get runs like that and put it three-wide.”
However, Burton’s lead was short lived as Creed’s better exit heading into the backstretch gave him momentum to clear him and would lead the next 37 laps.
Creed’s afternoon was cut short after a three-truck accident ended his day just 40 laps from the finish in 27th. Meanwhile, Burton would hang around the front of the field but never amounted a charge on Moffit and race winner Johnny Sauter.
Burton stated that while he felt his No. 18 truck was competitive, he wasn’t able to seal the deal once battling with Sauter’s teammate Ben Rhodes in the closing stages, realizing that he should’ve taken a different lane.
“It was an up and down day for sure. We had a really good Tundra in the second-half of the race and had a chance to win. Made some moves that put us in position to win, but it just never panned out,” said Burton. “I got in second behind Ben Rhodes there that last little bit. Just couldn’t get by him. I should have tried the top, but I ran the bottom thinking he would slip up on two tires, but he never did. He stayed committed to the bottom and I got passed on the top. We lost track position there and that put us in the hole for the finish. Always a learning experience.
Burton’s third-place result marked his best finish of the season and his first top-five since Las Vegas back in March when he wound up fifth.
Furthermore, after dropping from fourth to ninth in points due to an early exit at the last Truck Series race at Texas, Burton’s strong result gained him two spots and sits seventh heading into next Friday’s race at Kansas Speedway.
“I thought this was a good race for us to rebound from Texas,” Burton explained. “Come out of here with good stage points and a good finish and move on to Kansas, which is one of my favorite race tracks.”