Friday, Dec 02

Ford Performance NASCAR: Harrison Burton Richmond Advance

HARRISON BURTON, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang – HOW WOULD YOU SUM UP THE FIRST SIX RACES?  “They’ve been a learning experience for sure.  We’ve had a pretty rough start, there’s no denying that.  I felt like we came out of the gate really strong in L.A. and felt like we had a really good race at Daytona, showed a lot of speed and then from there it’s been a struggle.  We’ve had fast cars at times and we’ve had times where we didn’t have the pace that we needed.  I thought this weekend was a step in the right direction, getting stage points in both the stages was good, and I felt like being fourth in practice – things like that – we’re starting to show the flashes that we need to show, which is good.  It’s a building process and I think everyone at the Wood Brothers and myself understands that this is gonna be a building process.  Obviously, with the good start we had at L.A. and Daytona we wanted to continue that and that hasn’t quite happened, so we’re working really hard to make that happen and I think we’ve got a great racetrack for us coming up at Richmond.”

HOW ARE YOU GETTING ADJUSTED TO 15-20 MINUTES OF PRACTICE AND THEN GOING STRAIGHT TO QUALIFYING WITH NOT BEING ABLE TO CHANGE MUCH?  “It’s tough.  If you unload and you’re a little bit off, what are you going to do?  I mean, you can do some soft things and then you’ve got to go qualify, so I think it’s better than nothing and, honestly, a lot of us got used to nothing so it feels sometimes like a lot of practice.  I know when we had 50 minutes, I think it was at Vegas we had 50 minutes and it felt like forever, which is crazy, but obviously you want more as a rookie.  You want to learn as much as you can as quickly as you can, but I’m certainly thankful that we do have some and we can learn this new car a little bit quicker because of that.”


ARE YOU FINDING YOURSELF SAYING CUP IS TOUGHER THAN YOU THOUGHT OR FEEL LIKE YOU’RE HAVING A GOOD DAY AND THEN YOU LOOK UP AND YOU’RE 25TH-30TH ON THE BOARD.  ARE YOU HAVING THOSE DAYS?  “I think every rookie has some days like that, where you feel like you’re driving really hard and what would be enough to be top five in Xfinity is not top five in Cup, that’s for sure.  I think this weekend was something that was similar to that for me.  WIth the stage points we kind of sold our whole strategy to get stage points, and it worked pretty well, and then you get buried in the back for the last stage and it’s so hard to pass through those guys.  I thought we had a pretty decent car, but they’re just really good so you find yourself really battling to get to 17th, which is where I ended up.  Overall, it’s certainly a challenge and it should be a challenge.  I think that’s what makes it awesome.  I have a lot of things that are going on that I think are good and I’m learning a lot, but also there are those days that can humble you really quick and that’s good.  That’s part of the learning process and it’ll make you better over time.”


DO YOU CHANGE YOUR APPROACH OR MINDSET AT ALL THAT NOW YOU’RE THROUGH SIX RACES YOU FEEL YOU NEED TO DO CERTAIN THINGS BETTER?  “Yeah, I think for me I feel like I needed to be a little bit more aggressive, understanding how important track position is.  As soon as the race starts it’s time to go.  It’s easy to say, ‘Oh, I’ve got 500 miles to go.  I’ll figure it out.’  Well, if you lose a couple spots those guys that passed you are really smart.  They’re really good and they’re hard to pass back, so you end up spending more time trying to pass them than you would trying to move forward or whatever it might be, so more recently that’s been my focus is to get a little bit more aggressive over time and get a little bit more on the offensive instead of the defensive against these guys – just kind of take the fight to them and see what we’ve got.”


WHAT ARE YOU HOPES FOR MARTINSVILLE NEXT WEEK?  “I love racing at Martinsville. I love short tracks in general and I really am looking forward to the next two – Richmond and Martinsville.  Martinsville in particular is cool because my family is from Virginia, I’ve got a lot of connections to Virginia through the Wood Brothers now, so it’s a cool and important race for me personally, plus I love the racetrack so that makes it even better.  You can tie those same things into Richmond as well, so it’s a really really cool couple weekends for me at two of my favorite racetracks.  Last year, I felt like we had the car to win at Richmond in the Xfinity Series, led a bunch of laps and the cautions didn’t fall our way there.  I’m kind of hungry to get back there this weekend and then go to Martinsville.  It’s definitely exciting.”


HAVE YOU EVER HAD ONE OF THE FAMOUS MARTINSVILLE HOT DOGS?  “For sure, yeah.  You have to.  Whenever you’re there you’ve got to go grab a hot dog and enjoy it.  They’re famous for a reason, so you’ve got to go try it out.”


ARE YOU A FAN OF THE SLAW AND EVERYTHING?  “Yeah, you’ve got to do the whole deal.  You can’t halfway do it.  It’s not the same tradition if you’re not doing it all the way.”


WHAT’S IT BEEN LIKE RAISING A PUPPY AND DO YOU HAVE A CAT, TOO?  “No, just one puppy.  One dog is all I’ve got and it’s been awesome.  It’s been a cool experience for me just to have somebody hanging out with you.  I’m in my apartment alone working on my computer pretty much all the time, so it’s nice to have a dog around.  I have a friend and that’s always cool, but no other animals.  That’s all I could handle is one dog, that’s for sure.”


HOW MUCH HAVE YOU BEEN LEANING ON BRIAN WILSON THIS SEASON?  “Brian is obviously a great team leader.  He’s got a championship in the Xfinity Series and I raced against him for quite a while, which was really tough.  He was really good, so when I first got to work with him I was really excited and I still am excited because of the way he’s handled these situations.  He has complete belief in me and I have complete belief in him and that’s really all you can ask for in a driver-crew chief combination is just understanding that, hey, there are gonna be times when maybe he misses it or maybe I miss it.  We’re in our first year in the Cup Series in the positions we’re in.  It’s an awesome opportunity for both of us, so we’re both excited and going to work hard every day.  At the end of the day it’s a good relationship and he’s a great leader, so that’s all you can ask for.”


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