Harrison Burton wins ARCA race in Daytona debut
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) Harrison Burton opened SpeedWeeks at Daytona International Speedway with a victory in the ARCA Series season opener.
Burton turned 18 in October to meet the age requirement to race on the biggest and fastest NASCAR-sanctioned tracks. Venturini Motorsports signed him to a five-race ARCA deal with Saturday's opening event first on the schedule.
He was the leader when a crash with 10 laps remaining brought out a caution and set up two final restarts, one in overtime. Todd Gilliland finished second and gave Burton a push on the restart in overtime that sealed Burton's victory. Burton and Gilliland will be teammates in the Truck Series this season for Kyle Busch Motorsports and will race again in that series' opener Friday.
"I knew I wanted Gilliland behind me," Burton said. "We work good together."
Burton, the son of former NASCAR driver and current NBC analyst Jeff Burton, was hoarse from his celebratory screaming when he reached victory lane. He was greeted there by his father, who won a Cup race at Daytona in 2000, as Jeff Burton was the first to lean inside Burton's window.
"I lost my voice I was screaming and yelling for a long time. I don't even know where that ranks in my life. I can't put it into words," Burton said. "I'm ready to get more of this."
Burton made special note of sponsor Dex Imaging, which has backed him since he began racing late models when he was 12.
"And now we put them in victory lane," Burton said.
Burton came through the NASCAR NEXT program, won the 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Championship and two previous ARCA races.
The series before the race announced a multi-year extension with Menards that elevated the company to entitlement sponsor with the rebranded name ARCA Menards Series.
ARCA last year was acquired by NASCAR and series president Ron Drager said that move strengthened ARCA's ability to land Menards.
"We would not be sitting at this table and making this announcement had we not been a NASCAR property," Drager said.
More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
Updated February 9, 2019