Harrison Burton’s future among racing’s biggest stars is bright.
In just a matter of months, the 18-year-old will climb behind the wheel of a Kyle Busch Motorsports truck and compete full-time in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
Before that, though, the son of NASCAR legend and current NASCAR on NBC analyst Jeff Burton wants to add short-track racing’s most coveted piece of hardware to his trophy case.
Harrison Burton took a giant leap toward that goal when he won the pole for the 51st annual Snowball Derby on Sunday at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.
Burton set the fast time during Derby qualifying on Friday with a blistering time of 16.273 seconds, topping 46 of the most elite Super Late Model drivers in the sport.
“We’ve got a great racecar,” Burton said. “I’m honored and humbled. These are some tough guys to beat. I’ve got my dad’s genes, but he lit a fire in me before we qualified. It’s nice to come out and get the job done.”
The 2017 NASCAR K&N East champion with five victories, Burton won the Rattler 250 earlier this year, as well as the ARCA race at Pocono.
He was the seventh car to take to the track Friday and had no troubles topping Preston Peltier’s fast time of 16.344 seconds, which held the top spot early on.
Canadian Cole Butcher, driving a car owned by fellow Derby driver Donnie Wilson, will start outside of Burton on the front row after a lap of 16.327 seconds. Jeff Choquette (16.378), a multi-time late model winner at Pensacola’s high banks, will start inside of Peltier on Row 2.
Logan Boyett was the highest Pensacola qualifier in sixth position, while Chandler Smith was the fastest Georgia driver with a seventh place effort. One of the pre-race favorites, Senoia, Georgia’s Bubba Pollard, will occupy the 12th spot for the one race that has eluded him in 10 previous starts, while another Peach State favorite, Lawrenceville, Georgia’s Casey Roderick, will roll off 13th.
Dawsonville, Georgia’s Spencer Davis timed in 30th, the final spot that’s locked in on qualifying. With two provisionals going to Stephen Nasse and Kyle Bryant, the rest of the field will be set by Saturday’s last chance race. The top four finishers in that event will transfer to the Derby field.
There will be some big names competing in the 50-lap Derby last-chance race. Two-time Derby champion Augie Grill will join the likes of Steve Wallace, another past Derby champ.
David Rogers will also be in the last chance race. The veteran driver is looking to make his 33rd career Derby start, which would eclipse the mark set by short-track icon Red Farmer.
While Derby qualifying was able to be completed, rains moved into the Pensacola area shortly after it completed, raining out the scheduled 75 lap Modified feature. It is not scheduled to run on Saturday, with the time depending on the weather.
Also on Saturday, the Pro Late Model drivers are scheduled for their big race of the weekend, the Snowflake 100. Along with the rescheduled Modified feature and the last chance reace, the Pro Truck division is also scheduled to compete in their 50-lap feature.
That all leads up to Sunday’s 51st running of the Snowball Derby, set to take the green flag at 2 pm CST.
For more information on the Snowball Derby, visit 5FlagsSpeedway.com.
5 Flags Speedway – Pensacola, FL
Snowball Derby – November 30, 2018
Friday’s Qualifying Results
1. Harrison Burton – Huntersville, NC
2. Cole Butcher – Porters Lake, NS
3. Preston Peltier – Brighton, CO
4. Jeff Choquette – Loxahatchee, FL
5. Connor Okrzesik – Mobile, AL
6. Logan Boyett – Pensacola, FL
7. Chandler Smith – Talking Rock, GA
8. Noah Gragson – Las Vegas, NV
9. John DeAngelis – Hubertus, WI
10. Raphael Lessard – St.Joseph, QC
11. Donnie Wilson – Oklahoma City, OK
12. Bubba Pollard – Senoia, GA
13. Casey Roderick – Lawrenceville, GA
14. Stewart Friesen – Sprakers, NY
15. Chase Purdy – Huntersville, NC
16. Perry Patino – Montgomery, AL
17. Jesse Dutilly – Bradenton, FL
18. Jeremy Doss – Upper Lake, CA
19. Ty Majeski – Seymour, WI
20. Derek Thorn – Lakeport, CA
21. Michael Atwell – Naples, FL
22. Dennis Prunty – Knowles, WI
23. Austin Nason – Roscoe, IL
24. Tyler Ankrum – Colton, CA
25. Kaden Honeycutt – Bridge City, TX
26. Derek Griffith – Hudson, NH
27. Kyle Plott – Marietta, GA
28. Derek Kraus – Stratford, WI
29. Corey Heim – Marietta, GA
30. Spencer Davis – Dawsonville, GA
31. Paul Shafer, Jr. Portage, IN
32. David Rogers – Orlando, FL
33. Stephen Nasse – Pinellas Park, FL
34. Steve Wallace – Mooresville, NC
35. Kason Plott – Marietta, GA
36. Chris Davidson – Pearland, TX
37. Carson Hocevar – Portage, MI
38. Boris Jurkovic – Joliet, IL
39. Blaine Perkins – Bakersfield, CA
40. Jerry Artuso – Sault Ste Marie, ON
41. Kyle Bryant – Navarre, FL
42. Augie Grill – Hayden, AL
43. Mason Mingus – Brentwood, TN
44. Patrick Laperle – St. Denis, QC
45. Mason Diaz – Manassas, VA
46. Jack Dossey – Indianapolis, IN
47. Jan Evans – Wenatchee, WA