By Jerry Jordan, Editor
INDIANAPOLIS – Rookie driver Harrison Burton has never had a single-digit finish in the NASCAR Cup Series until Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course when he brought the No. 21 Dex Imaging Wood Brothers Ford home in the Top 3.
As an Xfinity Series driver, he had four wins and contended for a championship. But his Cup Series debut has had more downs than ups. As a rookie, he’s probably been knocked around some by the other drivers and he has definitely seen his share of bad luck but he is always focused on his on-track performance. And the third-place finish, in what was an extremely chaotic road course race, could be the boost he needs to go out and contend for more upfront finishes.
“We will take it,” Burton said.
Burton concedes it wasn’t a pretty run, his car was all over the place and he took a few licks, especially driving into Turn 1 but he persevered. The third place finish also makes him part of a historic trio of rookies to finish inside the Top 5, something that had not been done since 1994 at Pocono Raceway, according to NASCAR. That rookie contingent included Joe Nemechek, Jeff Burton (Harrison’s dad) and Ward Burton (Harrison’s Uncle).
“I mean, we were up and down and sideways and spun-out at one point, just not a clean day for us,” Burton told Kickin’ the Tires. “So, that’s almost more encouraging that we can finish third on a day that we didn’t execute well.
“We did our job late when it mattered the most, got aggressive, and it ended up working out for us.”
Burton said he tried to stay clear over everyone dive-bombing Turn 1 but that wasn’t always easy, so when he could, he positioned his car in the middle of the pack with another car on his left to use as a buffer to keep from being knocked off the track.
“I tried to make my not the bat or the ball,” Burton said, referencing a statement by Bubba Wallace on what happened during the Verizon 200 at Indy. “I just put myself in a spot where I could do neither and try to get in the middle and if I got hit, I’d get hit into someone else and not into the grass.
“That was my plan of attack. Normally, you’d fight to dive-bomb on the inside or somebody but I was like, I am just going to move this guy over a little bit and it so I can get to the middle and it ended up working it for the last two restarts. I think we went from 17th to ninth and from ninth to third, so that is cool how it worked out and I am really happy for our team, these guys deserve it.”