Burton claims first national series win at Auto Club Speedway

Burton claims first national series win at Auto Club Speedway
Meg Oliphant/Getty Images

FONTANA, Calif.—Harrison Burton is California Dreaming no more.

On Saturday the 19-year-old second-generation racer collected his first Xfinity Series win in his 12th-career start on the tour.

Burton took the lead from last weekend’s winner Chase Briscoe on Lap 117—and with the exception of relinquishing the point under caution on Lap 130—held serve to win the Production Alliance Group 300 at Auto Club Speedway

“Let’s go boys,” Burton screamed over the radio on his cool-down lap. "I knew we had a fast car today. I just didn't need to screw it up."

Burton held off his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Riley Herbst by .455-seconds at the line. Austin Cindric, Ryan Sieg, Justin Haley, Anthony Alfredo, Daniel Hemric, Ross Chastain, Jeremy Clements and Josh Williams rounded out the top 10.

"Heck yeah, man, this is awesome," Burton said. "All we've heard is that we can't do it - we'll never do what last year's (No. 20 team) did but we're off to a good start. It feels so good to win. There's times when you go through a little bit of a drought and you doubt yourself. But to get a win feels so good, especially after last year. We struggled a little bit (in Trucks).”

In 38 Gander Outdoor Truck Series starts, Burton was winless. But he finally broke through with a national series win behind the wheel of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

“Harrison is a rookie but he’s good,” said crew chief Ben Beshore. “We saw a lot of that last year. We have high expectations for him."

Polesitter Brandon Jones dominated the first two stages. Jones led the first 73 laps before a rash of cautions—and misfortunes slowed the pace of the second half of the race.

Burton captured the lead for the first time on Lap 78. Four laps later, flat tire sent Haley spinning in Turn 4 while running 11th. He dropped to 20th on the restart. Before the field completed the first Brett Moffitt lost control of his car in Turn 2 and bounced off of Michael Annett. He collected Brandon Brown and Joe Graf Jr., in the process.

Justin Allgaier assumed the point on Lap 91 before Matt Mills spin in Turn drew Caution 5. Haley cycled up to the front under yellow, but Chase Briscoe took the lead on Lap 97. As the field rolled through Turn 2, Noah Gragson cut off Chastain on the backstretch and plowed into the wall. Jones had a tire issue which resulted in multiple trips to pit road. He finished 30th, four laps down.

Briscoe took control but caution was called again on Lap 110—just not before Allgaier ran over the debris in Turn 4 and dropped to 19th. The veteran salvaged a 12th place finish. Briscoe led the field to green again on Lap 114 but his handling began to deteriorate. That opened the door for Burton, who capitalized on Lap 117. After struggling to stay off the wall, the No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford spun off of Turn 4 and into the grass.

“We had a pretty good Production Alliance Group Ford Mustang and just couldn’t ever get track position early in the race," Briscoe said. "When we finally got the track position, we had a voltage issue where the motor kept shutting off. I kept overdriving it trying to make up for it and then I just spun out off of four and that buried us, obviously. That one is on me. We definitely had a car capable of winning, or for sure running second at the absolute worst. I don’t even know where we ended up. We will have to just go to Phoenix and try to not do that again.”

Briscoe finished 19th and lost the points lead by 10 to Burton in the process.

Over the final 20 circuits, it was smooth sailing for Burton who had extended his lead to 10 seconds with 10 laps to go. While Herbst attempted to challenge, his hands were full just trying to keep Cindric at bay.

“Once we moved up to the top (lane) at the end, it was going to be really hard for (Herbst) to pass us,”  Burton said. “I was trying to be smart and not put it in the wall. The whole team was huge. I'm just so happy, man. This is something I've worked so hard for and my team's worked so hard for.

"Hell yeah, we won—that’s awesome."

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