16-year-old Harrison Burton is off to a strong start in his sophomore NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season, leading the points standings by 28 markers after scoring three victories and six top-five’s in six races.
The MDM Motorsports driver took some time to speak with Popular Speed’s Ashley McCubbin about his thoughts on the year so far, and more.
Popular Speed: How would you characterize your season so far?
Harrison Burton: It’s been a really good season, so far. We’ve had speed everywhere we’ve went. We’ve been able to come out of the truck fast, and perform well. But, we’re still looking for more. At Memphis, we were fast, but I don’t think we were quite good enough. Even though we won the race, we weren’t quite good enough to have the short run speed that we needed. We just played out cards right and ended up winning the race, still. I think we need to go to work a little bit, but I’m still really proud of my guys. They’ve put a great effort into the car, and we show up at the track with a good car. Really excited to be apart of MDM Motorsports. They’re on a little win streak here. Hopefully we can keep it alive.
PS: What’s a key difference you’ve found with the style of racing between the late model to the K&N car?
HB: I think it’s aggressiveness. The series is really aggressive as a whole. There’s a lot of drivers that work hard for every position, and there’s a lot of beating and banging going on in the field. I think I need to adjust a little bit to that, whereas in the late model it’s not like that as much due to how the bodies line-up. If you touch someone in a late model, you’ll end up wrecking them. I think there’s just being a little bit aggressive.
PS: You’ve raced a variety of series this year, including a truck for Kyle Busch. How had that experience been for you?
HB: It’s been really fun. All of the guys at KBM always bring me good trucks and I’m trying to learn as fast as I can there. It’s a different volume. Really, how the trucks drive vs. the K&N cars vs. the super late models vs. ARCA cars – everything is all over the place, it seems. So it’s a little bit hard to get a handle on it, but we had really good speed at Dover and we’re running top-five all day, just caught off-sequence on pit road. One of those deals that we couldn’t do much about it, but really excited to get back in it at Iowa. Hopefully I can continue the good runs like we’ve been having in K&N and in the trucks, as well.
PS: You’re part of an elite group of drivers in the NASCAR Next program. How have you benefited most from it?
HB: Well, the NASCAR Next program is huge for a number of reasons. First off, it’s huge because you’re one of nine drivers selected by executives, drivers, crew chiefs, people in the sport that recognize the work that you do, and to see that is gratifying. Then as far as the aspect of NASCAR Next, they help you a ton. They help you so much with media training, and things like that, but at the end of the day, they help you a long with notoriety. They get your name out there, which is really cool.
You know, when we released it last year and this year, both times it got a huge response on social media and everyone got a huge boost of followers. It teaches a lot, gives you notoriety, and it’s a lot of fun to be apart of. It’s cool because the group gets along well; we haven’t wrecked each other, yet. I guess when we do, it may be a little awkward, but no, I’m really excited to be in it.
PS: Of course your dad (Jeff Burton) has been influential in your development. What’s the best advice he has given you so far?
HB: Just to be yourself. It’s a sport where I have people pull me in one direction or another direction – you end up having to stay true to your own path. You have people wanting you to be like Jimmie Johnson or Kyle Larson, or someone that’s made it. At the end of the day, you’re not those people. You may be a talented racecar driver, but you don’t need to act like Jimmie Johnson does. I think the biggest thing is to be yourself and have fun. If you do that and do your job, you’ll go a long way just off of making everything fun.
PS: It’s natural for second generation drivers to sometimes feel they’re being measured. Do you feel any extra pressure at all to perform better as a result of that?
HB: I don’t really feel any extra pressure. I feel like I have – something you see a lot is we put on our team shirts that we have something to prove. I feel I have something to prove every time I am at a race track because a lot of people say that I get the opportunity that I have because of my dad. I want to go out every week and prove those people wrong, and prove to them that I’ve worked my butt off to get to where I am. I think I believe that I have the talent to get it done. I think that it doesn’t put any pressure on me, but rather a motivation factor actually, to have people that don’t believe you can do it, and to go out and prove them wrong makes it a lot of fun, that’s for sure.
Burton will look to win the inaugural K&N Pro Series East event at Berlin Raceway on July 1.
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