Harrison Burton had just started dating his current girlfriend, Jenna, when he won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship. He posted a photo on his Instagram of himself kissing the trophy with the caption, “Best kiss I’ve ever had!” Burton got in a little bit of trouble for that caption, and he quickly remembered that his first kiss with her was in fact the best kiss he’s ever had.
In about a week, Burton is hoping he can knock that K&N championship trophy kiss down one position and have a new “second best kiss I’ve ever had” by winning the 51st Annual Snowball Derby and getting to kiss the Tom Dawson Trophy on Sunday, December 2.
“That would be the best way to keep me out of trouble,” Burton said with a big laugh. “But it would definitely be high on the list of important things I’ve done in my life and I’m proud of because of all of the work that you have to do to get there.”
The months of preparation, the week of build up, the live pit stops, the 300 laps, and of course beating the competition in the field make up the work that Burton is talking about. After finishing fourth one year ago, Burton said he feels that his Wimmer Motorsports team is as prepared as ever to be able to go out and get the win.
“I think the biggest thing that we did that was good was we didn’t over adjust to having bad luck. We didn’t have mechanical failures that were the result of a bad pit stop where the lug was cross-threaded or something like that. We’ve been winning Super Late Model races, and big ones at that. We feel that our team is good enough to win anywhere. Now we’re going back off of a little bit of momentum from last year. We ran fourth, and that’s not a bad finish in the toughest race of the year. Now we’ll just move on and get better.”
To get better, Burton has to beat the likes of Bubba Pollard and Jeff Choquette, two of the three drivers that beat him in last year’s race. That’s no easy task, but Burton said he strongly believes that he and his team are up to the task and deserve to be in the conversation as favorites for the Snowball Derby win.
“I hold myself to that expectation because we’ve showed that we can do it," Burton stated. "We know that the cars are capable of it. Now it’s just time to go out and execute. When you hold yourself to that level you’re frustrated when you don’t win or finish really well, but it’s definitely a good thing to be able to hold yourself to a high level and go in thinking I’m one of the guys to beat. I truly believe that we’re one of the best teams in the country and we’ll be really hard to beat on Derby Sunday.”
The 18-year-old Burton was recently announced as Noah Gragson’s full-time replacement in the No. 18 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2019. Even though Burton will have a much busier schedule next year, Burton said this year’s Derby is definitely not his Super Late Model swan song.
“I’ll be back. I love Super Late Models. I love the competition aspect of it. Just driving them is a blast. This isn’t my last hurrah or anything like that. I have a special place in my heart for Super Late Models. I really enjoy it. I’m always about having fun when I’m racing. That’s what I do it for, and Super Late Models are a lot of fun, so I’ll be back.”
But before he gets ready to pilot that KBM truck at Daytona in February, Burton has a race to win. And if he does win, he already knows that the Tom Dawson Trophy will have a forever home in his bedroom.
“I want to look at that thing every morning when I wake up and before I go to sleep every night. I can find a good place in front of my bed. That’ll be good.”
Race fans unable to make it to Pensacola, Florida will be able to see all of the unique paint schemes by watching Speed51.com’s live pay-per-view broadcast throughout the week. Five-day video tickets are currently available at a discounted price of $74.99 ($35 savings) by clicking here.
The 51st Annual Snowball Derby will take place on Wednesday, November 28 through Sunday, December 2 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL. For more information regarding the event, visit Snowball Central presented by Schaeffer’s Specialized Lubricants.
-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Associate Editor - Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Speed51.com