The field of future NASCAR Cup drivers looks great…and young.
The K&N Pro Series East championship just crowned its youngest winner in 16-year-old Harrison Burton. If the name sounds familiar, he’s the son of 21-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winner Jeff Burton.
Burton took advantage of Todd Gilliland hitting the wall in lap 56 to take control of the race. He and the 17-year-old Gilliland have been battling all year for top position in the standings. In their 28 combined starts in 14 total races, they combined for 9 wins and only 6 finishes outside the top five. Gilliland led by 8 points going into Friday’s race.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Burton tells NASCAR.com. “I’m pretty pumped up about it. It’s kind of one of those moments where, last year I remember looking at my teammate Justin Haley who won the championship and I wanted to be on that podium making a speech at the ceremony. Now I get to be that guy.”
Gilliland was disappointed, but has another shot at a championship. The defending Pro Series West champion leads the standings in that division and was flying right from Dover to Meridian Speedway for Saturday’s race. There are three races left in that season.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Gilliland told NASCAR.com. “We had a fast enough car out here to win the championship. We have all year. I hate that we didn’t have a bigger points lead than this coming in here. … It’s about learning. It’s what we are here to do. We are just going to get better for my future.”