Harrison Burton entered Dover International Speedway knowing he would need a top effort in order to claim the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship.
Not only did Burton respond in kind, he claimed his first Monster Trophy and a NASCAR title as he wheeled his way to victory in the “National Fallen Firefighters Foundation 125 presented by Carl Deputy And Son Builders” NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season finale on Friday at the Monster Mile.
Burton, the 16-year-old son of former NASCAR Cup Series driver Jeff Burton, secured his fifth victory of the 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season and topped Todd Gilliland by eight points in the final standings.
“What an honor,” Burton said. “I’m pretty pumped up about taking home two trophies.”
Burton led the final 18 laps. He took the lead after executing a pass on Ruben Garcia Jr., who led a race high 71 laps, on lap 111.
Burton was greeted in Sunoco Victory Lane by his father, mother and ecstatic crew as they celebrated a championship. Previous NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champions include Joey Logano (2007), Kyle Larson (2012), William Byron (2015) and Justin Haley (2016).
“That’s a good list to be on,” Burton said. “Winning a championship is something that is really hard to do. There’s a lot of things that can go wrong.”
Gilliland, the 17-year-old son of former NASCAR Cup Series driver David Gilliland, entered Friday with an eight-point lead over Burton but saw his day end in heartbreaking fashion when het cut a tire on lap 55 before slamming hard into the wall.
“I watched [Gilliland] hit the wall and it was a pretty hard hit,” Burton said. “I was glad to know he was OK. We had a lot of hard hits but everyone ended up safe and that’s a credit to NASCAR.”
Gilliland had four victories in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Series this season, and also holds the lead in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West point standings. Gilliland finished in 13th place.
Veteran Eddie MacDonald came in second, with Tyler Dippel, Sheldon Creed and Jay Beasley rounding out the top five finishers. Pole winner Collin Cabre, who won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at the Monster Mile in 2015, finished eighth, while Garcia placed 10th after a late crash.
Burton averaged 92.978 mph over the race, which extended to a green-white-checkered finish following a late caution flag. The 128-lap race took 1 hour, 22 minutes and 36 seconds.