Harrison Burton knocks chip off his own shoulder with first NXS win

FONTANA, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 29: Harrison Burton, driver of the #20 Dex Imaging Toyota, applies the winner's sticker after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Production Alliance Group 300 at Auto Club Speedway on February 29, 2020 in Fontana, California. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

When Harrison Burton stepped up in class to the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year, there was talk the 19-year-old driver hadn’t earned the opportunity to drive some of the best equipment available at Joe Gibbs Racing.

After all, Burton had just spent a winless 2019 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season at Kyle Busch Motorsports, whose Toyotas are consistently among the best trucks in the garage.

Burton heard the talk, and the chip on his shoulder to start the Xfinity season was about the size of a fire log.

“The biggest one in my career,” Burton acknowledged. “I’ve never gone a year where I didn’t win. I won last year, right, but in an ARCA car. I’ve never, I don’t think in my life – well yeah, in K&N my first season I didn’t win, but I won late model races, I won a lot that year. I won races that kind of made me still know I could do it and be confident in myself. At the time, that was probably the roughest year, but last year was probably the roughest I’ve had in my entire career.”

After finishing second in the season opener at Daytona and fifth at Las Vegas, Burton got a breakthrough victory last Saturday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., in his first start at the abrasive two-mile track.

“There’s a huge chip on your shoulder to come out and be better, win races and prove to yourself and others you can do it,” Burton said. “I always believed in myself that I could do it, but it’s hard to say that when you’ve not won yet. Getting that win… now it was only a season (last year), but it felt like forever for me. Getting that win definitely made me feel a lot better.”

The win at Fontana vaulted Burton into the series lead, and he’ll have a chance to extend his streak of top-five finishes in Saturday’s LS Tractor 200 at Phoenix (4 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Greg Engle