Harrison Burton scored the biggest Late Model victory of his young career Sunday afternoon at Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele, Georgia. The 16-year-old put on a dominating performance against a stout field of Super Late Model drivers to win the 200-lap ARCA/CRA Super Series portion of SpeedFest 2017.
"The car was just amazing. I can't describe what I'm feeling right now," Burton said on the live Speed51.com broadcast. "We had a really, really rough year last year. We broke a lot of parts and had a lot of misfortunes. We're back and we're stronger than ever. To come back and get a win in the first race of the year, I can't explain it."
Burton first took over the lead on a lap 22 restart and from there only gave up the lead on two brief occasions. The Huntersville, North Carolina driver relinquished the lead to visit pit road on lap 106, but quickly drove from fifth to retake the lead in just two laps on the ensuing restart.
Following a lap 132 restart, Burton faced his toughest challenge of the day when NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series rookie Erik Jones mounted a challenge on the outside. Jones took over the lead on lap 133, but Burton battled back on the inside to reclaim the lead for the final time on lap 135.
For Burton, the win against a star-studded field was one that he won't forget anytime soon.
"There's so many great guys in the field today," he said. "We have somebody going full-time Cup next year, Erik Jones, who obviously has made a great name for himself. Guys like Bubba Pollard, they're the best in the business. To come out and beat the best and to experience that is amazing. To be the best you've got to beat the best, and today we came out and beat the best."
Burton's win on Sunday came in his first race behind the wheel of his new No. 12 Fury Race Cars ride, and to say that things went smoothly would be an understatement.
"I've got to thank everybody on my crew. We got this brand new car ready to come here and it's a fast race car. The guys put it together perfectly, no flaws or anything."
Despite battling a tight race car throughout the 200-lap race, Jones held off Stephen Nasse during the later stages of the race to finish second.
"I think Harrison was the only one here with a car that did drive good. They were fast all weekend. We came here and tested on Wednesday, and they were fast on Wednesday as well," Jones stated. "They did a good job bringing a car that good. Overall, we were just too tight today. We had been fighting it all weekend. We just weren't quite good enough in the center to get a good drive off. We just need to make it a little bit better, but second is what it is."
Nasse turned in a strong performance during the second half of the race to finish third, while Zane Smith and Chase Purdy completed the top five.
For an on-demand replay of Sunday's SpeedFest at Crisp Motorsports Park, visit 51's Trackside Now coverage.
-By Brandon Paul, Speed51.com Editor - Twitter: @Brandon_Paul51
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
SpeedFest 2017 Unofficial Results
|23||01||Derek Scott Jr.|