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Patient Derek Kraus Earns Second Rain-Delayed Victory With South Boston Win

The extra day was worth the wait for Derek Kraus.

After being postponed to Sunday due to rain at South Boston Speedway, the second WhosYourDriver.org Twin 100 belonged to the 17-year-old from Wisconsin.

Kraus took the lead from Max McLaughlin at the halfway juncture and didn’t look back, claiming his seventh overall K&N Pro Series checkered flag.

“It was a really good day overall,” he said. “Today was. Yesterday we were pretty good, too, but we ran out of brakes early and kind of had to ride around and manage your day, which we did for those first 100 laps. But these second 100 laps, we got the first 20 laps in and I knew we were pretty good. Really happy with my Bill McAnally crew.”

The win was Kraus’ second overall in the K&N Pro Series East this season. His first came in the season opener at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway, a race that was also postponed due to rain.

Chase Cabre came home in second-place for the second time in the last three races – sandwiching an eighth-place run in the first twin 100 Saturday night. The Rev Racing driver was catching Kraus’ No. 16 in the closing stages Sunday, but wound up running out of time.

“Just came up a little bit short” he said. “I think if we had a caution we might have had something. Really drove as hard as I could go there. It was a guessing game when it rains out like that and goes to the next day; not bad, but not what we wanted.”

Hattori Racing Enterprises’ Max McLaughlin scored his second third-place finish in a row after battling flu-like symptoms the night prior and led a handful of laps. Tanner Gray, winner of Saturday’s 100-lapper, finished fourth and Spencer Davis rounded out the top five.

Drew Dollar was sixth, followed by Rev Racing teammates Ruben Garcia Jr. and Nick Sanchez. Garcia’s car was piloted by Colin Garrett Sunday after Garcia had to depart for a race commitment in the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series. Garrett had wrecked out in the first 20 laps Saturday night, leaving him available to fill in for Garcia. Sanchez was on the pole for the second race by virtue of his fast lap Saturday, and was making his series’ debut. Travis Milburn and Justin Carroll rounded out the top 10.

Race No. 2 of the WhosYourDriver.org Twin 100s is scheduled to be broadcasted on NBCSN Thursday, May 9 at 6 p.m.

The next K&N Pro Series East events will take place on Saturday, June 1, at Memphis International Raceway.

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OBSERVATIONS: WhosYourDriver.org Twin 100s Race 1 at South Boston

As the fans continue to preach for more short tracks on the NASCAR National touring schedules moving forward, the NASCAR Home Tracks divisions are continuing to showcase why this needs to happen.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series has proven to be a great division for young stars to showcase why they should compete against the stars in the national tours. As they’re pushing those envelopes, they are continuing to put together stellar finishes.

A late caution set-up a green-white-checkered finish to the WhosYourDriver.org Twin 100 Race 1 for the K&N Pro Series East at South Boston Speedway, and it impressed every fan watching the free stream on FansChoice.tv.

After giving up the lead to Sam Mayer over the course of the long run, Tanner Gray took full advantage of the restart, with a well-timed bump to the back of the No. 21 Chevrolet, followed by some rubbing well alongside on the tight track to take over the lead. He then held on through the final lap for the victory.

It’s always been stated that “racecars have bumpers for a reason,” as well as the classic stories of the “chrome horn.” Gray perfected the move in that moment as he got the position on Mayer, however he didn’t go over the limit by wrecking his competitor. 

Gray’s transition into stock cars has been interesting to watch thus far as Saturday’s event only marked his third career series in the start. He also does not have an asphalt oval background like many of his competitors, coming from the drag racing world into NASCAR. His quick ability to adapt to stock cars could prove critical moving forward.

If the caution does not fly, Mayer easily had the event in hand as he had been able to put a couple car lengths on Gray after taking the lead with a stronger car on the long run. Meyer has been equally as impressive as his counterpart, as evident by his dominating performance at Bristol Motor Speedway a couple weeks ago. 

Although everyone looked forward to seeing both of these young drivers go head-to-head once again in the second event starting up front, they also showed why they still have things to learn. Gray jumped the initial start, while Meyer made contact with the outside wall. With both being in the title fight, being able to gain ground when the race does go back green on Sunday could be a pivotal part of the season.

Certainly the youth and needing to learn showed through with other drivers, as well.

Drew Dollar gave up a top-five run in the first 100-lapper following contact with Chase Cabre as they both fought for the same piece of real estate.

Hailie Deegan may be applauded for her aggressive ability, but she showed the need to learn patience in driving over Colin Garrett in the first 18 laps of the second event before it was postponed to Sunday due to weather. Garrett showcased his frustration to his fellow competitor, resulting in shock from the fans in not being able to see a replay of the incident despite FansChoice.tv using that feature for other previous incidents. 

Garrett is not totally done for the weekend, as the rain will see him jump behind the wheel of Ruben Garcia‘s entry when the field goes back green as Garcia travels to Mexico to race in the NASCAR Mexico Series. With some time to think over what happened and running for a different team than his own, does revenge happen?

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Tanner Gray Breaks Through For First Win At South Boston

SOUTH BOSTON, Va. — Tanner Gray wasn’t leaving South Boston without a trophy.

He made sure of it in race No. 1 of the WhosYourDriver.org Twin 100s, as he nudged Bristol winner Sam Mayer out of the way in overtime to win his first career K&N Pro Series race.

In race No. 2 on the date of his first career series start, Nick Sanchez led the field to green by virtue of his quick lap in race No. 1. He led the first 18 laps after Gray was black flagged for jumping the initial start. Then, unfortunately, the rain came.

And it stayed, forcing the postponement of the remainder of the second WhosYourDriver.org Twin 100 to Sunday.

For Gray, though, getting that inital checkered flag in NASCAR was the thing. The 2018 NHRA Pro Stock Champion has already shown to be a quick study to stock cars and oval tracks.

“It feels really good to get that first win,” Gray said, exhausted after the first twin 100. “I tried to screw it up throughout the race the whole time. I just kept getting loose, chasing it up the race track and made some adjustments there under caution before the green/white/checkered.”

The overtime finish didn’t disappoint, as Gray and eventual second-place finisher Sam Mayer were beating and banging around the entire track.

“We took off and I was hoping I could get a little better jump, hold him tight down there to the bottom,” the DGR-Crosley driver said. “But I missed it a little bit. Tried to follow behind him and got into him, and in (Turn) 3 just moved him, got underneath him, side-by-side going on the frontstretch. After that I’m not too sure what happened to him.”

Gray had come up just .030 seconds short on March 30 at California’s Irwindale Speedway, losing out on a drag race off Turn 4 to Trevor Huddleston. This time, it was Gray who was .32 seconds faster than the runner-up.

Following Gray and Mayer across the finish line was another rookie, Max McLaughlin, in third. Spencer Davis and Ruben Garcia Jr. where fourth and fifth, respectively.

Colin Garrett, Travis Milburn, Chase Cabre, Derek Kraus and Hailie Deegan rounded out the top 10.

WhosYourDriver.org Twin 100 Race No. 1 Results

The field for the second twin 100 was set by fastest lap time per driver in the first 100. That allowed Sanchez, who was 14th in his series’ debut, to assume the point alongside — albeit temporarily — Gray.

Twin No. 1 will be broadcast Wednesday, May 8 at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Twin No. 2 will be streamed live on FansChoice.TV on Sunday and air on NBCSN on Thursday, May 9 at 6 p.m.

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OBSERVATIONS: Zombie Auto 150 at Bristol Motor Speedway

If you did not know who Sam Mayer was before today’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event, then you certainly got your eyes wide open after watching him at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The Driver’s Edge Development member was perfect across the Zombie Auto 150 weekend, as he paced both practices, before winning the pole and leading flag-to-flag en route to victory. Despite a couple different restarts, Mayer was unchallenged throughout the entire event as he easily pulled away from the field, slicing his way through the lap traffic while maintaining a healthy advantage over the field.

For the rest of the field, it was mostly a calm event though, too. The race started off with a bang in the form of a multi-car crash on the opening lap, but then saw the field string out through the course of each stage, with a couple small battles between drivers at times to keep you occupied.

The biggest disappointment of the weekend probably would be the luck endured by Hailie Deegan. She was fast in practice, but blew an engine late in the session which caused her to miss qualifying. She would start from the tail of the field, and patiently worked her way up to eighth by Lap 40.

However, contact during the second half of the event resulted in an unscheduled trip down pit road for overheating issues, and a finish outside of the top-10. While she’s been the star of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West tour, she has yet to score a top-10 in the east division in eight starts.

The real talking point following the event wasn’t Mayer’s domination, though, but rather an interview fail.

Hannah Newhouse was pegged to speak with Riley Herbst following his crash for the at-track public address system, and FansChoice.tv’s broadcast. She made the comment in which she wasn’t sure what took Herbst out of the race, to which he replied, “The car is killed. Look at the right side of this thing.”

Although improper etiquette to not fully know what happened entering the interview with a comment like that, the discussion point did not come from there. Rather, she left her microphone open following the interview, calling Herbst a “douchebag.”

Although honesty is appreciated from the on-air talent, that certainly is not the best look to have. 

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Sam Mayer Dominates Bristol For First K&N Pro Series Victory

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Round No. 2 of the K&N Pro Series East season belonged to Sam Mayer in every sense of the word.

The 15-year-old was quickest in both practice sessions, set the new track record by qualifying on the pole and won the Zombie Auto 150, leading all 150 laps en route to his first career K&N Pro Series victory.

“The race played out completely different than the way I thought,” Mayer said. “I thought it was going to be pretty solid on the top. But the top wasn’t there at all, it was pretty much all on the bottom. It was really good on the bottom, but once you got out of the groove to pass lapped cars you really had to feather the throttle and be easy into the corner.”

K&N Pro Series East regulars Chase Cabre and Brandon McReynolds came home second and third. Cabre finished 3.634 seconds behind Mayer’s No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet and McReynolds scored his second straight third-place finish.

Drew Dollar and Spencer Davis rounded out the top five finishers with Colin Garrett, Mason Diaz, Raphael Lessard (first series start) and Tanner Gray completing the top 10.

On the first lap, multiple drivers were involved in a crash on the frontstretch including Ruben Garcia Jr., Natalie Decker, Riley Herbst and Gray. Garcia, Herbst and Decker were forced behind the wall and finished 17th, 18th and 19th, respectively.

It was the eighth career start for the 15-year-old from Franklin, Wisc. He’s collected four top fives, with his previous best finish of fourth coming in the season finale last year at Dover International Speedway and then matched in this year’s opener at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway.

Mayer leads Kraus by three points and McReynolds by six in the driver standings. The first K&N Pro Series East regular after Mayer is Garrett in fourth, 11 points back.

The Zombie Auto 150 is scheduled to be broadcasted on NBCSN Thursday, April 11 at 4 p.m.

The next K&N Pro Series East events will take place on Saturday, May 4, at South Boston Speedway with twin 100-lap championship points races.

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OBSERVATIONS: ENEOS NAPA Auto 150 at Irwindale Speedway

As fans continue begging for better racing in NASCAR’s top series, the manta has been “more short tracks,” with other Motorsports enthusiasts encouraging people to check out their local home track. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West is backing up this statement, opening the season with two of the best races of the season already.

Following an exciting trip to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway dirt oval, fans played witness to a photo finish at Irwindale Speedway. Derek Kraus rarely makes mistakes and appeared to be ready to cruise to another victory, but he would get outside of the groove in turn three – opening the door for one of the most exciting battles in series history.

Both Trevor Huddleston and Tanner Gray would be able to clear Kraus in the process, with Huddleston beginning to stretch out an advantage. However, as the laps begin to count down, Gray was able to close the gap. Gray would get to Huddleton’s bumper with two to go, diving underneath in both ends as he tried to clear him. The battle would go all the way to the checkered flag. 

Any race can have an exciting finish, but the ENEOS NAPA Auto 150 went beyond that.

Throughout the entire event, drivers were battling side-by-side for position, something electing for the preferred top groove, while others utilized the traction strip put down in the bottom lane. No matter when you tuned into the event, you could see drivers alongside each other, while working their way around the lap traffic.

The doors have been threatening to close on Irwindale Speedway, but this event proved alone why that should be allowed to happen.

Hailie Deegan was in the conversation for her second straight victory, until contact with Gray sent her around in turn one. She was able to make her way back through the field back to the top-five relatively quickly and got a chance to try her hand against the top-three on a restart, but ultimately used up her tires with her rebound. As a result, the early race top-three runner and pole sitter finished fifth.

FansChoice.tv will be carrying every single NASCAR K&N Pro Series West event this season live for free through their website, and that couldn’t come at a better time. With a wide variety of young talented drivers vying for the top spot each week, combined with the push for short track racing as mentioned above, expect fans to continue to tune in to get their fix.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Trevor Huddleston Earns First Victory at Home Track in Photo Finish

IRWINDALE, Calif. — There’s nothing like your first.

Trevor Huddleston has been knocking on the door of his first career K&N Pro Series West victory for some time, and he earned it, barely, at his home track of Irwindale Speedway in a photo finish over Tanner Gray in the ENEOS NAPA Auto 150.

“I’m still in shock,” Huddleston said. “That was absolutely insane. Me and him were bouncing off each other, we were bouncing off the wall, I mean I didn’t know if we won. I hit the wall and got the freakin’ wind knocked out of me and I was like ‘did we win?’ and we won. Unbelievable.”

Huddleston battled a hit-or-miss transmission for the final 100 laps, forcing him to drive for most of the race with one hand on the steering wheel and one hand on the shifter.

Huddleston and Gray banged doors off Turn 4 to the start/finish line and the Augora Hills, California native was able to inch his No. 9 Sunrise Ford ahead of Gray’s No. 15 DGR Crosley Toyota. After claiming the checkered flag, Huddleston hit the wall and was unable to drive his machine back to Victory Lane.

Huddleston’s three track championships at Irwindale Speedway gave him a “one up on the field” leading into the 150-lapper. This event has been circled on his calendar for some time and to win his first race at the facility his father, Tim, operates made it that much sweeter.

“We’ve been preparing for this moment for a long time. I know this track hopefully better than anybody. I’ve been raised here. To get this win means so much. To win in the K&N Pro Series is unbelievable. it’s got a stacked field. And to win like that, even better.”

In only his second career series start, Gray almost put it in Victory Lane. Coming from a drag racing background, he knew immediately he didn’t beat the No. 9 to the line but did all he could leading up to that.

“It was just really good racing between me, the No. 9 and the No. 16 (Derek Kraus),” Gray said. “This racetrack produces really good racing, Them putting PJ1 down on the bottom really helped. That was a lot of run. I feel like I was the only one who was really able to get down there and be as fast as I was. The deal we had coming to the line was unfortunate, but it was just both drivers coming using up all the race track trying to get there first. It wasn’t intentional […] it’s racing.”

Kraus came home third after leading a handful of laps, but he lost brakes with around 30 laps to go, allowing Huddleston and Gray to get by. Jagger Jones and polesitter Hailie Deegan rounded out the top five finishers.

Cole Cabrera, Matt Levin, Brittney Zamora, Dylan Garner and Jack Wood completed the top 10.

The ENEOS NAPA Auto 150 is scheduled to be broadcasted on NBCSN Wednesday, April 3 at 6 p.m.

The next K&N Pro Series West will take place on Saturday, May 11 at Tucson Speedway.

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NASCAR Awards Spotlight 2018 Titlest

International, Regional & Local Champions Honored In Charlotte

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Winless streaks, long layoffs and uncertain plans was how the seven drivers that gathered on stage at the end of the evening Friday entered the 2018 season.

The culmination was vastly different. They were NASCAR Champions.

“Today is my favorite victory of the year – to celebrate your accomplishments,” Philip Morris told his crew after accepting the trophy and ring for his record-tying fifth NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I national championship.

Morris was joined by Alon Day (NASCAR Whelen Euro Series), LP Dumoulin (NASCAR Pinty’s Series), Ruben Garcia Jr. (NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series), Justin Bonsignore (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour), Derek Thorn (NASCAR K&N Pro Series West), and Tyler Ankrum (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East) on stage in the Grand Ballroom of the Charlotte Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame as the culminated their championship seasons with the NASCAR Awards Charlotte.

“As you can see, racing in NASCAR is alive and well,” said Vice Chairman of NASCAR Mike Helton, “and the future of it is going to be pretty spectacular.”

They shared common themes: Dominance (Bonsingore had eight wins and Day seven), repeat performances (in addition to Morris, Dumoulin, Thorn, Day and Garcia won their second titles) and championship teams that helped carry their drivers to the sport’s ultimate heights.

“This year was probably the hardest of my racing career,” said Day. “Winning back-to-back champ is a huge accomplishment in any sport, and I couldn’t make it happen without all the people that helped me.”

“This trophy, this ring, would be worthless without all that competition,” Dumoulin said, in a nod to his fellow series drivers. “It’s a lot of challenge, a lot of fun.”

Bonsignore entered the season off a bitter end to 2017 that saw him come up just short to five-time tour champion Doug Coby. But an offseason to regroup and refocus paid off, and the 30-year-old from Holtsville, New York, produced a season to remember.

“(Car owner) Ken (Massa) and I, we didn’t give up on each other. We just went to work,” said Bonsignore, who won half the tour races in 2018 and finished in the top five in all by four. “That’s all you can do as a race car driver, be the best on who you’re racing against.

“That’s what it’s all about – having fun at this level. And we def have a lot of fun.”

The two K&N Pro Series champions entered the year with different goals. Thorn, the 2013 West champion, reunited with longtime series car owner Bob Bruncati in an effort to unseat Bill McAnally Racing from the top spot. Ankrum? He wasn’t even sure of his racing plans past April.

“At the beginning of the year, I said I was happy with a top 5 – I wasn’t expecting much,” said Ankrum, who initially only planned to run a couple K&N races and some Late Model races.

The 17-year-old from San Bernardino, California, had three straight top fives to start the year and take the points lead. That led to a change and a full season slate lined up. He responded with four wins and became just the fifth driver to win the series’ title and Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the same season.

“The thing I learn the most was the value of hard work – how hard you had to work,” said Ankrum.

And Thorn made good on his goal, too. In his first full season since his title run, Thorn won three times and had 13 top fives in 14 starts as Bruncati’s Sunrise Racing went 1-2 in the championship points standings.

Dumoulin hadn’t been to Victory Lane since 2013. He ended that drought in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series opener at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and won twice more en route to his second Canadian stock car championship.

“We do this for winning,” said Dumoulin. “We started the season that way, and it was perfect for my team.”

Garcia had an impressive year in two countries: He finished third in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship standings and became just the third Mexico-born driver to win an oval race in the series, and he used a three-race win streak in the summer to pull away for his second NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series title.

The most experienced of them all, Morris, also overcame a layoff from his winning ways. The 53-year-old from Ruckersville, Virginia, went into semi-retirement after his fourth NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I national title in 2011. He came back to full-time competition in 2016, and resumed his spot at the top just two years later on the strength of 23 wins in 35 Late Model Stock Car starts.

He tied the late Larry Phillips, a NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee, for the most titles in series’ history.

Together with Day, Garcia, Dumoulin, Bonsignore, Thorn and Ankrum, they were able to celebrate their hard-won success Friday night. And finally reflect on a season of triumph.

“It’s a humbling experience like no other,” said Thorn.

  • Friday night’s NASCAR Awards Charlotte also recognized the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division II through V top five finishers, the U.S. state and Canadian provincial champions, as well as the championship car owners and crew chiefs, and series’ rookie of the year winners. Brittney Zamora, a Super Late Model driver from Washington’s Evergreen Speedway, received the Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award.
  • On the red carpet before the NASCAR Awards Charlotte show, NASCAR Whelen All-American Series U.S. state and Canadian provincial and track rookies of the year, as well as regional and international series special award winners were recognized for their achievements.
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ASHLEY ASKS…… Julia Landauer

This past season, Julia Landauer made the trip north of the border to take part in a select number of NASCAR Pinty’s Series races.

The New York native spoke about that experience with POPULAR SPEED and more recently.

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts looking back on your Pinty’s Series season?

JULIA LANDAUER: I wish we could’ve been ran stronger, but we had some mechanical issues. I was thankful for the opportunity and the ability to go racing this past year, and it was nice to be able to try something different.

PS: What was the biggest surprise?

JULIA: Quite a bit different than I was expecting it to be so it took a little bit. I was surprised that it took several sessions to get comfortable in the car, and I was speaking with Brandon McReynolds who had also raced in the K&N cars, and he was also surprised by how different they were.

PS: A lot of people like to compare K&N and Pinty’s. Now having driven both, what are some of the differences and similarities?

PHOTO CREDIT: Canada’s Best Racing Team

JULIA: I think they’re a lot different. Obviously how they drive is very different, but there’s similarities. The number of races per year, and how competitive both series are. A couple things that were different are the people who race in Pinty’s Series have been racing there for years so a lot of people know each other well, whereas K&N a lot of drivers spend two years and then move up.

Also, how the car drives is very different as the K&N car, you can attack the corners more as you have better brakes. So it’s a different styles, but the racing is competitive and the races are longer in the K&N Series, so there’s more of a preservation going into there and pacing yourself back. It’s really hard, clean racing in the Pinty’s Series, and I was surprised by how few crashes there were and caution laps there were.

PS: Could we see you back in the Pinty’s Series again next season?

JULIA: I would love to, and I think we’re trying to figure how to get our plans in place and are talking to a bunch of people. I love racing up there and I’d love to do a street course in a stock car and I’d love to do that so we’re working on it. But I think that’d be really cool to run again.

PS: How did you get started in racing originally?

JULIA: My parents were looking for an activity all of their kids could do on the weekends and were looking for something with girls and boys, so they liked the idea of go-kart racing so that’s how I started. Then I fell in love within a year or two, and wanted to figure out how to do it as a career. So we’ve been working together to climb the ranks.

PS: Who is your racing hero?

JULIA: I have a couple. So on the NASCAR side, I’ve always liked Mark Martin and Carl Edwards. On the Formula 1 side, I really like Michael Schumacher – obviously he’s been really impressive, and Lyn St. James. She’s been a great mentor and obviously very accomplished herself. I look up to Paul Newman and the fact he was able to do many different things. He’s not known primarily for his racing, but he led such a cool life that he got to do a lot of things he loved.

PHOTO CREDIT: Canada’s Best Racing Team

PS: You mentioned Lyn St. James. A lot of talk lately about female racers has been happening due to the W Series announcement. What is your take on the W Series?

JULIA: So on the one hand, anything that gives woman the opportunity to get into good equipment, that’s good. I think that’s important. On the flip side, I love racing is co-ed and when you win in racing, you get to prove you’re the best – not the best female, not the best male, but the best. I’m a little worried that making a female only series, it might hurt the overall progress of seeing more woman in co-ed racing.

It might not, it might help and if it does help woman get into Formula 1 – which we haven’t had a woman full-time in a long time, that’s great. I’m just a little worried that it won’t.

PS: Being a spokesperson yourself, what would be your advice to females aspiring to get into racing?

JULIA: I think this advice applies to any field you want to get into, but do a lot of research and see what makes the sport happen. I think everyone is surprised at how expensive it is to go racing. I think having a concrete idea of what that’s like and the business side is really important because so many great racers and only a handful racers do make it. So if you’re trying to figure out what you have to do on and off the track to really progress, and obviously you need results on track and talent and work with a team. But learning the other things that go into racing is very important.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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ASHLEY ASKS…… Harrison Burton

16-year-old Harrison Burton is off to a strong start in his sophomore NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season, leading the points standings by 28 markers after scoring three victories and six top-five’s in six races.

The MDM Motorsports driver took some time to speak with Popular Speed’s Ashley McCubbin about his thoughts on the year so far, and more. 

Popular Speed: How would you characterize your season so far?

Harrison Burton: It’s been a really good season, so far. We’ve had speed everywhere we’ve went. We’ve been able to come out of the truck fast, and perform well. But, we’re still looking for more. At Memphis, we were fast, but I don’t think we were quite good enough. Even though we won the race, we weren’t quite good enough to have the short run speed that we needed. We just played out cards right and ended up winning the race, still. I think we need to go to work a little bit, but I’m still really proud of my guys. They’ve put a great effort into the car, and we show up at the track with a good car. Really excited to be apart of MDM Motorsports. They’re on a little win streak here. Hopefully we can keep it alive.

PS: What’s a key difference you’ve found with the style of racing between the late model to the K&N car?

HB: I think it’s aggressiveness. The series is really aggressive as a whole. There’s a lot of drivers that work hard for every position, and there’s a lot of beating and banging going on in the field. I think I need to adjust a little bit to that, whereas in the late model it’s not like that as much due to how the bodies line-up. If you touch someone in a late model, you’ll end up wrecking them. I think there’s just being a little bit aggressive.

PS: You’ve raced a variety of series this year, including a truck for Kyle Busch. How had that experience been for you?

HB: It’s been really fun. All of the guys at KBM always bring me good trucks and I’m trying to learn as fast as I can there. It’s a different volume. Really, how the trucks drive vs. the K&N cars vs. the super late models vs. ARCA cars – everything is all over the place, it seems. So it’s a little bit hard to get a handle on it, but we had really good speed at Dover and we’re running top-five all day, just caught off-sequence on pit road. One of those deals that we couldn’t do much about it, but really excited to get back in it at Iowa. Hopefully I can continue the good runs like we’ve been having in K&N and in the trucks, as well.

PS: You’re part of an elite group of drivers in the NASCAR Next program. How have you benefited most from it?

HB: Well, the NASCAR Next program is huge for a number of reasons. First off, it’s huge because you’re one of nine drivers selected by executives, drivers, crew chiefs, people in the sport that recognize the work that you do, and to see that is gratifying. Then as far as the aspect of NASCAR Next, they help you a ton. They help you so much with media training, and things like that, but at the end of the day, they help you a long with notoriety. They get your name out there, which is really cool.

You know, when we released it last year and this year, both times it got a huge response on social media and everyone got a huge boost of followers. It teaches a lot, gives you notoriety, and it’s a lot of fun to be apart of. It’s cool because the group gets along well; we haven’t wrecked each other, yet. I guess when we do, it may be a little awkward, but no, I’m  really excited to be in it.

PS: Of course your dad (Jeff Burton) has been influential in your development. What’s the best advice he has given you so far?

HB: Just to be yourself. It’s a sport where I have people pull me in one direction or another direction – you end up having to stay true to your own path. You have people wanting you to be like Jimmie Johnson or Kyle Larson, or someone that’s made it. At the end of the day, you’re not those people. You may be a talented racecar driver, but you don’t need to act like Jimmie Johnson does. I think the biggest thing is to be yourself and have fun. If you do that and do your job, you’ll go a long way just off of making everything fun.

PS: It’s natural for second generation drivers to sometimes feel they’re being measured. Do you feel any extra pressure at all to perform better as a result of that?

HB: I don’t really feel any extra pressure. I feel like I have – something you see a lot is we put on our team shirts that we have something to prove. I feel I have something to prove every time I am at a race track because a lot of people say that I get the opportunity that I have because of my dad. I want to go out every week and prove those people wrong, and prove to them that I’ve worked my butt off to get to where I am. I think I believe that I have the talent to get it done. I think that it doesn’t put any pressure on me, but rather a motivation factor actually, to have people that don’t believe you can do it, and to go out and prove them wrong makes it a lot of fun, that’s for sure. 

Burton will look to win the inaugural K&N Pro Series East event at Berlin Raceway on July 1.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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