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Burton Spoils Xfinity Contenders’ Day – Again

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 1 2020

Harrison Burton and his crew added to their checkered flag collection at Martinsville on Saturday. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Andrew Coppley)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Harris Burton’s two straight victories in the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs’ Round of Eight forced three of the four title contenders to earn their way into the championship round via points.

Burton, an Xfinity Series rookie, was eliminated from the playoffs after the first round. However, that only served to make him “more hungry and my race team more hungry to prove we’re deserving of a spot in the Championship Four.” At Texas, he passed playoff contender Noah Gragson exiting the fourth turn on the final lap to claim his third victory this season. Then Saturday at Martinsville Speedway he led five times for 81 laps in the Draft Top 250 to earn his fourth victory this year, a goal his Joe Gibbs Racing team set for itself at the season’s beginning.

“We thought if we won four races that would be plenty to get us to the Championship Four,” Burton said after winning two consecutive races for the first time in his career. “It just turned out it wasn’t at the right times to do that.”  

Burton’s 0.355-second victory over Justin Allgaier forced regular season champion Chase Briscoe, Allgaier and Justin Haley to gain entrance into the title round at Phoenix next weekend via points. Briscoe advanced with his victory at Kansas. 

I feel like we’ve had to points race the entire playoffs and it’s been really annoying,” said Cindric, who led once for 42 laps. “It’s a year’s worth of work and I think the team of guys that I’m around, the driver that I’ve become the last three years, I think it’s a championship effort. Obviously, Team Penske is a place that expects to win championships, so for us to be in that fight is important and it’s what we expect out of ourselves.”   

Even though the 250-lap race on NASCAR’s shortest track was relatively calm when compared to the Truck Series slugfest the previous evening, it still was nerve racking for Haley.

“The motor started to let go about halfway through the race and I just kinda had to survive,” Haley said. “The engine just kept getting worse and worse. I couldn’t pass anyone just getting out of the corner. It would stumble all the way down the straightaways.”  

Saturday’s event marked the first time the Xfinity Series had appeared at the half-mile track since 2006 when it was known as the Busch Series. And for the Burton family the series return to Martinsville was a memorable one. The 20-year-old competitor became the youngest driver to win at Martinsville, breaking a record his father, Jeff Burton, set in 1990. The elder Burton claimed his inaugural victory in the series at age 23. It also is the track where Burton made his first start in NASCAR’s Truck Series.

“There are just so many things that make Martinsville special to me,” the young Burton said. “I know it took a lot out of my family to get me to this point. Now I have a great family with Joe Gibbs Racing … and now it’s fun to just kinda go home as my dad’s not a car owner anymore. He’s just my friend and my dad.”

The Xfinity Series season finale, which will determine the champion, is scheduled for Nov. 7 at Phoenix.


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Sunday, November 1 2020
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