Harrison Burton, 22-year-old son of former NASCAR driver Jeff Burton, gears up for New Hampshire Motor Speedway

By ERIC RYNSTON-LOBEL

Monitor staff

Published: 07-06-2023 4:11 PM

Harrison Burton was so young the first time he went to the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, he doesn’t even remember how old he was. 

“Probably 1 or 2,” he estimated.

A native of Huntersville, North Carolina just outside of Charlotte, Burton grew up around racing, especially racing in New Hampshire where his father Jeff is tied with Kevin Harvick as the winningest NASCAR Cup Series driver at the NHMS.

Now 22 years old, the younger Burton is preparing for his latest chance at the NHMS when NASCAR comes to Loudon next Friday through Sunday. It’s the only NASCAR event held in New England, so Burton understands the value it brings in possibly drawing new eyeballs to the sport.

“I think our sport is one that is easily written off without giving it a fair shot,” Burton said. “When people will tune in and see it, it tends to be something they really enjoy or have fun going to.”

Look no further than last weekend’s events held in Chicago, the NASCAR Cup Series’ first-ever street race, where Burton finished in 30th.

“The fans were really curious and asking questions and just willing to learn and show up,” Burton said of that experience. “When there are race cars running around in the city street, that’s something that’s cool. There was a natural interest there that was really neat to see.”

In addition to the possibility of bringing new fans into the NASCAR fold, Burton’s also well aware of the passion he’s seen throughout his experiences watching his dad race in New Hampshire.

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It’s something, he said, that’s stuck with him as he’s embarked on his own professional career.

“The coolest thing about it is the fans in New Hampshire are really devout and really care about it and have been watching for a long time,” he said. “I remember when my dad went there, he was kind of like a fan favorite up there because he ran really well in New Hampshire.”

In his second full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series, Burton entered this year after finishing second in the 2022 rookie of the year standings; he finished the season with one top-five and two top-10 finishes. So far in 2023, Burton’s finished in the top 15 three times, at Fontana, Bristol Dirt and Darlington.

As he prepares for his trip up to New Hampshire, he’s certainly excited to race, but he’s also excited about enjoying what the state has to offer.

“I love seafood,” he said. “So that’s always great.”

He also has some friends who have a house on Lake Winnipesaukee where Burton loves to go fishing. 

“It feels kind of like home away from home,” he said.

And while Burton almost certainly hopes he finds some success on the lake, turning in a successful performance on a track where his dad made so many of his fondest NASCAR memories would only make next weekend that much more special.

“Just excited to get there,” he said. “Excited to run at New Hampshire and enjoy a good weekend and try and go win the thing.”

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