Harrison Burton had perhaps the fastest car during the 51st Annual Snowball Derby, but at the end of the night he only had a 10th-place finish to show for it.
Burton, who started the race from the pole positions, had blown by Ty Majeski for the lead with fresh tires and looked to be well on his way to the Tom Dawson Trophy before a caution came out with 20 laps to go.
During the caution period, the rest of the field visited pit road for fresh tires and Burton became a sitting duck for the final restart with five laps to go. Burton slipped back through the field as Noah Gragson held off Majeski for the win.
“Yeah we had it, but just needed twenty more laps,” Burton told Speed51.com. “It sucks. That was our only way we could win. We lost track position in the pits a few times and we just couldn’t ever get it back, so we figured let’s try something else and it almost paid off. I don’t know what happened that brought out the yellow while I was out there (leading).
“It’s just part of racing. We gained what we had to take and it didn’t work out for us. I want to win one of these really, really bad, so that part sucked. We’ll move on and get better and learn from it.”
Burton started on the pole for the race and set a blistering pace. By the first yellow of the day, he had put half the field a lap down. However, he lost valuable track position throughout the race on pit road, something his team was having a hard time recovering from. Ultimately, his team had to resort to a “Hail Mary” to try to win the Snowball Derby.
“For sure we had a car capable of winning the race,” Burton said. “Track position is just really big here and it’s so hard to pass. Everyone basically gets a straight exit off and you really can’t do anything once you get a run. We got back there and we just couldn’t ever do anything and started losing track position. It’s just tough, man. We had one play in our book to try to win, unfortunately it was a Hail Mary and we didn’t connect on it. It’s part of racing and we’ll move on.”
In 2019, Burton will move to Kyle Busch Motorsports full-time to race the No. 18 in the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series, replacing the Xfinity Series bound Noah Gragson. He says their pit crews were a major asset in the team winning the Snowball Derby with Gragson, and he knows first-hand how good they are as he looks towards next year’s NASCAR season and the 52nd Annual Snowball Derby.
“Their pit crews were really good. I know that they came out first off pit road every time, and that helps. Hats off to those guys. I know how good they really are, I race with them on a regular basis. They get it done and they’re hard to beat. Pit road is such a big part of this race and our strategy didn’t play out and out pit stops weren’t quite fast enough. We need to adjust on some of that and come back with a different gameplan.”
Race fans who missed Sunday’s Snowball Derby can now watch the on-demand broadcast on Speed51.com by clicking here.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com