DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – Harrison Burton, the 18-year-old son of retired NASCAR great Jeff Burton, won the Lucas Oil 200 Driven By General Tire Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway, in the opening event of this year’s DAYTONA Speedweeks Presented By AdventHealth.
Burton, driving the No. 20 DEX Imaging Toyota for car owner Billy Venturini, decisively pulled away from runner-up Todd Gilliland (No. 4 Frontline Enterprises Toyota) on the 86th and final lap. A multi-car incident on Lap 79 forced the race into an overtime situation beyond the scheduled distance of 80 laps. The race was restarted on Lap 86, giving the field one chance and one last lap to finish the event.
Burton won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship in 2017; this year he will drive full-time in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports. His victory Saturday – his first career race at DIS – led him to a place his father visited when he won the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at the famed race track back in July 2000: Gatorade Victory Lane.
“To win at Daytona is so special … it was really cool and a really humbling experience to win here, for sure,” Burton said. “Everything’s kind of a blur. The one thing that really sticks out to me is coming out of [Turn] 4 and looking up and seeing that no one has a huge run coming, and thinking, ‘Wow, that really happened,’ and crossing the line and screaming my head off for a long time.”
“Not only because this is Daytona, but the work it’s taken to get this win [also makes it special],” added Jeff Burton.
Gilliland planned on riding at the back in the early stages of the race then charging to the front at the end. He was able to team up with Brandon McReynolds (No. 28 US Work Boats Toyota) but McReyolds was involved in a crash that sent the race into overtime. From there, it was a one lap dash to the finish, and Gilliland tried to outduel Burton, but couldn’t make it stick on the final lap around.
“There’s still a lot to be learned,” Gilliland said. “I think I learned a lot for next week. It would have been great to get up there and race Harrison tonight but I think what I learned will be a huge help when we get back here in the Truck next week.”
Grant Quinlan (No. 30 Jones Demolition & Abatement Ford) finished third. Quinlan’s team owner, Terry Jones, finished second here in 2017, and Quinlan, a former ARCA/CRA Super Series late model champion also capitalized in a rare superspeedway start.
“I don’t do a lot of superspeedway racing,” he said. “It’s a lot different than what I am used to. We hooked up with Todd (Gilliland) and went to the front late in the race. We had some debris on the grille and had to make a second pit stop but thankfully he was back there too and we could work our way up to the front together.”
Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota), the General Tire Pole Award winner, lined up second on the final restart and ended up fourth.
“I thought we had a little bit better car than Harrison did but that’s speedway racing,” Eckes said. “We just weren’t in the right line on the restart. As far as the points are concerned it was a good day. It would have been good to win here but we’re happy to get a good start on the championship.”
There were five cautions for incidents which consumed 30 laps, the final one of which sent the race into overtime. The first accident of the night involved defending race winner Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota) and last year’s runner-up finisher Willie Mullins (No. 3 County Waste Systems Ford) tangled on the back stretch, cutting their day short.
Other incidents involved Eric Caudell (No. 2 Caudell Consulting & Marketing Ford), Thad Moffitt (No. 46 Performance Plus Oil Chevrolet), Paul Williamson (No. 36 Vizion Motorsports Toyota), J.J. Pack (No. 61 IceBoxx Customs Toyota), Brandon McReynolds, and Bret Holmes (No. 23 Holmes II Excavation Chevrolet). There were no injuries in any of the incidents.
Burton led three times for 48 laps. Other leaders included Eckes, who led 9 laps from pole, Gus Dean (No. 32 CAB Installers Chevrolet), who led 29 laps. There were five lead changes among three drivers.
The next race for the ARCA Menards Series is the ARCA Pensacola 200 at Five Flags Speedway, scheduled for Saturday, March 9. The race will be live on MAVTV at 8 pm ET; ARCARacing.com will have live timing & scoring, live chat, and live track updates free for registered users.
It was a big day for the ARCA organization overall at the “World Center of Racing.” Prior to the Lucas Oil 200, the series announced a multi-year extension of its long-running sponsorship contract with the home improvement chain Menards. The extension elevates Menards from a presenting sponsor role to the important role of series entitlement sponsor. (NASCAR acquired the series, which was founded in 1953, last year.)