Harrison Burton scored a hometown victory at South Boston Speedway (VA) Saturday night, taking the win in the second NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race in a twin-100 doubleheader for the series after Chase Purdy was penalized for jumping a late restart.
Burton, whose father Jeff and uncle Ward cut their teeth on the 0.400-mile Virginia oval, was surrounded by family and friends in victory lane afterwards, making this win a very special one for the 16-year-old.
“It almost brought me to tears, stopping by my family [during the post-race victory lap],” Burton continued. “I’ve never been that emotional inside a race car. I’m at a loss for words.”
Purdy dominated the second race of the evening, taking the lead on a lap 12 restart. Todd Gilliland took the lead from him on lap 82, but a late caution offered Purdy a second chance at the victory.
However, that chance was squandered as Purdy jumped the restart. NASCAR penalized Purdy, opening the door for Burton and Gilliland to battle for the victory, with Burton taking the win.
“I knew when Purdy jumped the start, it wasn’t necessarily intentional,” Burton said. “I didn’t really know how to play it, because I didn’t know how I would be judged if I beat [Gilliland] to the line. It worked out in our favor and let us make the move.
“When something intense like that happens, you don’t really remember it,” Burton added. “It’s all instinct.”
NASCAR declined comment to Speed51.com regarding the penalty, but Purdy admitted to jumping the restart, accepting NASCAR’s penalty.
“Yeah, I just jumped the start and blew the whole race away,” Purdy said.
Travis Miller won the first race of the evening, outdueling Purdy for the victory. Miller assumed the lead in that race on a lap 59 restart.
“He chose the inside there on that restart,” Miller said in victory lane. “That played to our advantage."
“We had a good run going, he just got us on that restart,” said Purdy after the first race. “The top got going better than we did. It was a fun race. It was nice to be competitive and battle for the win.”
Todd Gilliland picked up a third-place finish in the first race before coming home second in the nightcap. It was an eventful evening for last season’s K&N Pro Series West champion, recovering from a mid-race incident in the first race before battling for the win in race two.
“It definitely covered it all,” said Gilliland. “From running down the leader to blowing a tire and pounding the fence [in the first race]. We had to drive from last up to third, which made me very happy. My whole team worked so hard on this. They gave me the best car we could have had, definitely the fastest one out here.
“I let them down a little bit on that last restart,” Gilliland said about the decisive moments of race two. “I’ve just got to move on from here and win the rest of them.
“We had two dominant cars tonight,” Gilliland said about his team’s effort. “It’s really terrible to not be able to take a trophy back to David Gilliland Racing. We came here, we tested, and our cars were really fast. I think we showed everyone what we are capable of.”
Burton’s victory marked his second in three races on the K&N Pro Series East circuit, as he won their last event at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) prior to Saturday night’s doubleheader. Burton reflected on his breakout season in victory lane.
“I’m just so happy,” Burton said. “This is something I’ve wanted my whole life, to be successful in a NASCAR series. It’s starting to come to me, I’m starting to win races and run better. It’s so cool, it’s so much fun.”
The K&N Pro Series East returns to action on June 3, when they visit Memphis Motorsports Park (TN). That race will be the first in series history at the 0.750-mile oval in the Volunteer State.
Race fans can find on-demand coverage of Saturday's twin 100s at South Boston by visiting Speed51.com's Trackside Now coverage.
-By Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Race #1 Unofficial Finish
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Race #2 Unofficial Results