Burton Victorious in Bristol
Survives Rain-Shortened K&N Pro East Race
BRISTOL, Tenn. – It may have been a short day at Bristol Motor Speedway, but it was a sweet one for Harrison Burton.
After qualifying for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East was cancelled due to rain on Friday, Burton and his No. 12 DEX Imaging Toyota started from the pole for the Zombie Auto 125 and led all but two of the first 70 laps before the rain began.
Unable to dry the half-mile surface, NASCAR called the event short, handing the victory to the 16-year-old NASCAR Next driver. In his 17th career start, the win is his first on any NASCAR K&N Pro Series.
“I feel like every team circles this race on their calender,” Burton said. “We kind of wanted to run the whole race and win it that way. We were confident our car was good enough that we could win it that way. I feel like it would’ve been cool to cross the line in dry conditions. But, I’ll take it. I never wanted it to rain so bad in my life.”
Finishing second, NASCAR Drive 4 Diversity and NASCAR Next veteran Ruben Garcia Jr. showed potential all weekend after leading the way in Friday’s lone practice session. The Mexico City, Mexico, native drove back into the runner-up spot before coming up short of a win.
“Really, really happy,” Garcia said. “Probably one of the best [cars I’ve ever had]. Between this car and the one we had last race, certainly two of the best cars I’ve ever had in the K&N East.”
Spencer Davis completed the top three while the Martin-McClure Racing duo of Hunter Baize and Chad Finchum rounded out the top five.
With off-and-on precipitation and a hectic NASCAR XFINITY Series race, the start of the race was delayed for nearly two hours. This led to more urgent racing in the opening laps, which saw lead changes and accidents.
“I was pretty agressive to start,” Burton said. “After seeing a few guys blow tires, we wanted to conserve tires. One we heard rain was in the area, we started running a little bit harder.”
For the one and only lead change of the race, Collin Cabre took the top spot before losing it after only two laps. Burton led the rest of the way en route to the win.
It was a troublesome day for Ryan Truex, who started in the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments, taking his No. 11 Otics USA Chevrolet to the garage after only 10 laps. In what was his first series start since 2010, it ended in the 25th position.
Vinnie Miller spun in Turn 3 after contact from Chad Finchum to bring out the race’s second caution flag before Ronnie Bassett Jr. cut a tire while racing Todd Gilliland for eighth spot.
Collin Cabre came home sixth followed by Julia Landauer, Todd Gilliland, Zane Smith and Eddie MacDonald in the top 10.