In 2017, Harrison Burton established himself as one of the top talents in short track racing. He won CRA SpeedFest, a CARS Tour race at Concord Speedway, he scored two wins and the championship at New Smyrna Speedway during their World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing, an ARCA Racing Series win, five NASCAR K&N Pro Series East wins and the series championship. But it all started at CRA SpeedFest in January, and now he’s heading back to Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele, Georgia as the defending winner of the prestigious race.
Sometimes there can be added pressure on a driver when they go back to a race as the defending winner. Sometimes people will say it was a fluke performance and they want to see if that driver can do it again.
“You’ve proven to yourself that you can do it and you’ve proven to everyone else that you can do it,” Burton told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “When you go back to these races you have a feeling of confidence. It gives you a level of confidence knowing that you’ve won this race before. Hopefully that plays into our favor.”
Burton said the biggest issue that being a defending winner gives a driver is a false sense of security. To overcome that, Burton said he and his team have been working hard to make sure that they’re faster than they were in 2017 when they won because they know that everyone else has been working harder to try to beat them.
The humble teenager is very quick to mention the hard work by his team members when he discusses his win in 2017 and his hopes of going back-to-back, and he made sure to credit his team for his success.
“The biggest thing was the effort by my guys who are behind me,” Burton said. “We put a lot of effort into that car and we unloaded fast. Some of it had to do with me as I was driving it, but a lot of it had to do with those guys. I had a really good race car. It was a dominant race car. If we can go back and unload as good as we did then, then we’ll have a shot at it.”
Burton also joked that he got a little bit of help from an unlikely source just before the race last year. Burton was eating a pizza when a wasp stung his lip. Even with a swollen lip he was still able to concentrate on the task at hand and put in 200 flawless laps to score the win.
“Getting stung on the lip by a wasp was a good touch,” he said with a laugh. “I think that helped a little bit.”
So now the question on everyone’s mind is if Burton will be sprinkling wasps on top of his pizza before this year’s SpeedFest on Saturday. If it worked once it may work again, right?
“It sounds like a good plan to me, man,” he joked. “It worked. I guess I’ll have to get stung again.”
Race fans can watch Harrison Burton go for the repeat win at CRA SpeedFest live on Speed51.com on Saturday, January 27 for just 24.99 by purchasing a live video ticket here.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo credit: Speed51.com