Toyota Racing – Harrison Burton
NASCAR Xfinity Series Quotes
CHARLOTTE (September 22, 2020) – Joe Gibbs Racing driver Harrison Burton was made available to media via videoconference during the NASCAR Playoffs Media Day:
HARRISON BURTON, No. 20 DEX Imaging Toyota Supra, Joe Gibbs Racing
Do you think you could be a dark horse going into the Playoffs?
“Yeah, we kind of feel like we have that mentality of we have a chance to kind of fly under the radar and be aggressive. I think we are in a good spot honestly to progress through the rounds. If we get through this first round, I’m so excited for the next few tracks. They are all places that I feel like we can win. We can really win at the other ones as well. This first round is a little bit crazier with the two wild card races in the first round, but Vegas is another good track for me as well. Yeah, I think so. I think we have a great race team. I think that we are hitting on all cylinders here at the end of the year with our overall lap time, and now it’s just time to execute a little bit better and find was to put ourselves in position for the win at the end. If you can do that, put yourself in that situation, you generally have a pretty good shot.”
What would you consider a successful first Playoffs?
“I don’t know. I don’t tend to think about it as I want it for the first Playoffs. The way I want to think about it is just Playoffs in general. For me, I want to get Phoenix for the chance to win a championship, and that is probably the answer you get every single driver saying, but I really think we are capable of that as a race team. If you get there, and things come up short, hey, you did your job and you got there. It’s a tough, tough format to win in and I think it brings out the best in people and it’s honestly really fun to watch, but if you put yourself in situations where you can win whether that is single races or the championship, you can lay your head down at night and be pretty happy with how the season went. Obviously, I want to be there, and I want to be the guy that hoists a championship trophy, but to do it you have to get there first. So, if we can get do that, I would be really, really happy.”
What are you and your team doing to avoid contact with COVID-19?
“Yeah, it’s crazy. That could take your whole season and kind of put you in a spot where if you don’t get healthy within a week if it’s the first round, you could be out of the Playoffs because you got sick. That’s just as important, obviously, for the health and safety of our guys and people that we care about that we go on the road every week with. Those guys are like family. Obviously, you are worried about that first and foremost, but after that, it’s kind of a responsibility you have to take on yourself. A, is it smart for me to be in this situation? I have to do everything by the book, and obviously, there is a bit of an unknown factor around that. You have to put yourself in good situations and make smart decisions to try to limit your risk as much as possible because obviously, number one you don’t want to catch it because you don’t want to have it, but number two, is it could take away your whole season in a blink of an eye. That’s a big what if and that’s a big thing that might rear its ugly head. Hopefully, it doesn’t. Hopefully, we can go all the way through and have all of our guys health. I think NASCAR has done a great job to keep us in good situations and keeping us healthy and hopefully, we can continue that.”
Talk about the experience driving for Joe Gibbs this season.
“Yeah, it’s been fun. Coach has a lot faith in me, I think, and we talk pretty often on the phone, which is really, really cool because he’s a legend. He’s Coach Gibbs. He’s someone that believes in me. That’s really cool for my confidence and cool for me as a person. And going back to Kyle Busch Motorsports, I had a tough time there to be honest with you. I didn’t run as well as I wanted too. I didn’t win races, didn’t contend for championships like I thought we would. That made me a better race car driver though. That kind of opened my eyes to how hard everything is, and you come in as a young driver and you think that you are the best thing to ever walk the earth, right? And you get humbled really quickly in this sport . You find out how hard you really have to work and how hard it is to execute at this level of the sport. Man, that made me such a better race car driver and now today, I think I’m getting the benefits of that.”
How would you access your first Xfinity Series season?
“Well, it’s been a challenge. We’ve had good fast race cars and that’s been really fun to be fast and to feel like almost like it’s back in late models again. Every time you go somewhere you have a chance to win, and that’s been super fun for me knowing, man, we have good cars. If we go and we go execute, we can win this thing. I believe that every single weekend. I don’t expect that to change throughout the Playoff. What I do think about our season so far is, we’ve won races and ran well, but we’ve fallen short on a couple of our goals as well. We wanted four regular season wins. That was something that we wrote on paper that we wanted as a team going into the Playoffs. So, hopefully we can make up for that during the Playoffs and just win a bunch of them in there. I think that our team as a whole has been strong and we have been building a lot of great things. Hopefully, that all shows up when it matters the most.”
You are the youngest driver in the Playoffs this season. Have you sought any advice from family or teammates on how to handle these next few weeks?
“Yeah, for sure. I’m in a great situation because of the resources I have. I can talk to a guy that’s won a Super Bowl. I can talk to a guy that has been in the Xfinity Series Playoffs in my teammate Brandon Jones. I can talk to my teammate Riley Herbst, who is doing it for the first time as well. My dad (Jeff Burton) never really had – was never in the Playoff format, but he’s been in the Chase before. He’s been in the hunt for championships before. He knows what it takes to be close, and my uncle Ward (Burton) is the same way. I have a great opportunity to talk to all of these people and kind of learn from them. People that are my mentors and people that I look up to a lot having experience in this. On top of that, my driver coach, Blake Koch, is a past Playoff guy in the Xfinity. He almost made it to the Final Four and got barely beat by Justin Allgaier. He knows what that’s like. He knows what it’s like to be close and come up a little short. I think that will kind of help me get over the hump. Knowing all the resources that know the mental side of the game is going to be an advantage for me hopefully.”
Do you feel like you are coming in with people not necessarily looking at you?
“I don’t know. I know what I think of our team, and I think we have a chance to win it all and that’s all that matters. Internally, you have seen sports teams that no one believes in and they make it happen because no one believes in them. Hopefully, no one believes in us. I love that mentality of trying to find a way to prove people wrong. I feel like that is what this year has been about for me. When I signed this deal and came to Joe Gibbs Racing, I was confident in myself but there were people that doubted whether or not I should even be here. I think we’ve proven that we should, and we have a lot of things to build on for the future. For now, it’s all about these next seven races and making the most out of our opportunity. If I could win a championship, that would change my entire career. It would change my whole life. You are racing for everything. It’s everything. Yeah, I’m excited to go to battle with my guys and I know that they are going to bring their best and I’m going to bring mine, and no matter what, I’m going to be able to lay my head down at night and know that I put the effort in that I needed to and I know whatever happens I tried my hardest.”
Have you had conversations about next year yet?
“It is kind of one of those things that will come later. You are so focus, especially now-a-days. We’ve been going weekend after weekend after weekend for so long. We haven’t had an off weekend in quite some time. For me, I’m so focused on doing my job the right way and winning races and contending for wins and the other stuff tends to follow suit. You see over and over, winning matters and in this sport, if you can win, you put yourself in a good situation for the future. That’s a big thing. If I focus on that and complete that, hopefully, the rest will follow.”
What has it meant to you to win races this season and have a solid rookie season?
“It’s been awesome. It’s been a dream come true for me to win in the NASCAR level in the Xfinity level on top of that, where you are close to achieving your lifelong dream of being in Cup and kind of proving that you can win races in the Xfinity level and run well is really cool for me as a race car driver. It’s what you’ve dreamed of as a kid. I’ve watched my dad (Jeff Burton) run in Xfinity when I was young and win races and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world and I wanted to be like that one day. To do it was amazing, and something I will never forget. My first win at California and Homestead, winning there as well. You can’t describe winning. Winning is amazing, so I can only imagine what contending for a championship and winning races when it’s crunch time, what’s that going to be like. Hopefully, I don’t have to imagine that, and it happens. It’s just an awesome opportunity to be able to do what I love and to be able to do that for a living is amazing.”
How do you believe you get to the championship?
“I think it depends on what situation you are in a race. I think your mindset going into every single race is that we need to dominate. We need to win every stage and win the race. If you have any less expectations than that, then you are cutting yourself short. That’s my mindset. Obviously, it’s easier to say that. We haven’t really dominated a race yet. Even the two races we won, we didn’t lead a ton of laps in, but we executed when it mattered. For me, I don’t look too much into our past success or failures. I know one thing is we have speed. I know that we are able to execute in times where it matters the most and we’ve done it in the past. I don’t necessarily know one way or another that we are going to do it. Whenever the situation arises, whether we are in second racing for a lead or leading trying to hold off second or in fifth trying to make the best out of a bad day or whatever it may be, it all matters. I think that for me as a driver, I just have to try to take advantage of every opportunity that I can.”
Overall, how would you describe your year?
“I think it’s been a pretty good year so far. We fell short of a couple of our goals and stuff like that but for me, it’s been about proving myself and that I belong and trying to do it for myself and my team. Looking at it week to week, I think we’ve done a good job at running well and having speed at a time where there is no practice and being a rookie is probably one of the hardest years to be a rookie that I can imagine. I think that as a driver it’s been alright. I’ve made mistakes like any driver has and I’ve had great races like any other drivers have as well. There’s a lot to build on. I feel really confident in my abilities. I know that I have a lot to learn and a lot to work on, and so does people who are winning Cup races too. It’s a tough sport. If you are not constantly evolving and constantly getting better, you’re going to find yourself falling behind. I’m always trying to work hard and put my best foot forward.”
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