Harrison Burton experienced “a lot of learning” in his first NASCAR Cup Series start at Talladega Superspeedway, which he turned into a top-20 finish.
Burton, 20, brought the Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota home cleanly in the 20th position. He restarted inside the top 10 on the overtime attempt and was in the main pack coming to the finish of the GEICO 500.
“It was pretty fun, just a different level of competition when you’re against these guys,” Burton said. “It makes you better when you go back to Xfinity, hopefully, and it makes me a better driver. Just happy I had the chance to come out here and do it.
“I very rarely get emotional or that excited before races because I’m so focused, but this weekend was pretty neat. I’m thankful for the opportunity to do it. It was pretty awesome, and I can’t wait to do it again someday.”
Without the aid of qualifying, Burton started on the last row but was unafraid to mix it up in the draft. Sixth was the highest Burton ran on the leaderboard, and was scored 10th at the end of the second stage. He also experienced his first Cup Series pit road penalty and had to come from the rear of the field once more when he was penalized for leaving his pit stall with the fuel can under the competition caution.
Crazy experience… Not the finish I thought we deserved but I think this experience will make me better! Pretty rare for me to get emotional but strapping into a cup car today definitely got me!
— Harrison Burton (@HBurtonRacing)
On what surprised him about his debut Burton said, “I think just the way the runs come. Talladega is so tough in general. It’s just a lot going on at once. Learning a new team, spotter, and crew chief with all of that going on too is a big challenge, but it was the same but different if that makes any sense at all.
“It was definitely different. The level of intensity was different, but the main fundamentals are basically the same.”
A championship contender in the Xfinity Series with Joe Gibbs Racing, Burton finished 10th in the Saturday race at Talladega.