Harrison Burton led just two laps in Saturday’s Hooters 250 at NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway – the final two laps.
Burton powered past Austin Cindric and Noah Gragson with a three-wide pass with two laps to go to collect his second-career Xfinity Series victory, and punch his ticket to the Xfinity Series Playoffs.
Cindric came home second, followed by Gragson, Anthony Alfredo and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Burton, the son of former Cup Series driver and current NBC Sports analyst Jeff Burton, flew under the radar for the entire race after starting on the pole position but kept his Toyota Supra off the wall and put himself in a position to win on the final restart following a caution flag with just five lap to go.
“I'm so excited. That's so awesome,” said Burton in Victory Lane. “I gave away the lead on the first restart in the same position and I didn't really want to do that again. I knew the 9 (Noah Gragson) was going to drive in real deep and slide up so felt good about that.”
Saturday’s race the first of two Xfinity Series races in a rare doubleheader weekend. The second event is scheduled for noon on Sunday, giving the 19-year-old series rookie a chance for a two-win weekend.
“This track is so much fun. Really puts it in the driver's hands, especially at the end there,” said Burton, “I'm just ready to go again tomorrow to be honest with you, I want to get two.”
For much of the race, the drivers up from were Gragson, Cindric, Ross Chastain and Ryan Sieg, who combined to lead every laps of the first two 40-lap segments, with Sieg taking the win in the opening stage, and Gragson taking the top spot in the second.
In the third stage, it was Sieg and Chastain up front until the final round of green-flag pit stops with 31 laps to go put Gragson up front.
Gragson quickly pulled away from the field, opening up a 13-second lead and looking on his way to an easy victory.
But, as always in the Xfinity Series, it’s never that easy.
With seven laps to go, Sieg cut a tire down and spun in thrum three, bringing out the yellow flag for fifth time on the day.
Gragson and the rest of the top ten drivers came to pit road, with Gragson leading the charge off pit road, followed by Burton, Earnhardt, Jr., Brandon Jones and Cindric.
On the restart, Gragson launched to the front with a strong push from Earnhardt, Jr., while Cindric came around the high side to take third behind Burton.
Coming through turn two, Burton dived low under Gragson and the two raced side by side before Cindric dived to the bottom and make it three wide to take the lead.
As three came out of turn four, Burton ducked too the low side and made it three wide at the white flag, going door to door with Cindric before clearing him and taking over the top spot as they came out of turn two.
From there, it was a drag race as Burton raced back to the checkered flag, crossing line two car-lengths ahead of Cindric to claim his second victory of the season.
Cindric was able to post his fifth top-five finish of the season but his first in the last three races.
"Finish-wise, I think we overachieved a little bit,” said Cindric. “I think I could have made some better moves on the short run to try to get a stage win or two there, but, overall, another great performance as far as unloading close with something brand new. I think we've done that three times successfully and I'm proud of my team.
“It was definitely a frustrating day, but we can't hang our heads.”
Earnhardt, Jr. came up short of the victory in his only scheduled Xfinity start of the year and his first since last August 31st at Darlington.
“I was rusty, all the way through,” said Earnhardt, who hinted in his post-race interview that this may have been his last Xfinity Series start.
“I don’t know how many more of these I’ll do. This might be the last one. I don’t know if it’s getting to the point where I’ve gotta decide whether I’m helping things or I’m not helping the team. How can I help the team in other ways? I don’t know. I really enjoy it. I really do. But I think there’s gotta be a point to where I decide to make the change to broadcasting entirely.”
Chase Briscoe came into Saturday’s race as the points leader but lost six laps before the race even started after losing a piece of ballast off of his Ford Mustang during the pre-race pace laps.
Briscoe managed to fight his way back to a seventh-place finish, but lost the points lead to Gragson, who now leads by 18 points. Burton holds onto the third points position, 36 back from Gragson.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Homestead-Miami Speedway – Homestead, FL
26th Annual Hooters 250 - June 13, 2020
1. (1) Harrison Burton #, Toyota, 167.
2. (9) Austin Cindric, Ford, 167.
3. (2) Noah Gragson, Chevrolet, 167.
4. (21) Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 167.
5. (12) Dale Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet, 167.
6. (17) Michael Annett, Chevrolet, 167.
7. (8) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 167.
8. (4) Brandon Jones, Toyota, 167.
9. (3) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 167.
10. (6) Riley Herbst #, Toyota, 167.
11. (14) JJ Yeley, Chevrolet, 167.
12. (23) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 167.
13. (10) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 167.
14. (5) Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, 167.
15. (26) Myatt Snider, Chevrolet, 166.
16. (32) Joe Graf Jr #, Chevrolet, 166.
17. (31) Colby Howard, Chevrolet, 166.
18. (16) Jesse Little #, Chevrolet, 166.
19. (15) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Chevrolet, 166.
20. (18) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 166.
21. (37) Colin Garrett, Toyota, 166.
22. (27) Stefan Parsons, Toyota, 165.
23. (28) Timmy Hill(i), Toyota, 165.
24. (25) Bayley Currey(i), Chevrolet, 165.
25. (36) Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 165.
26. (22) BJ McLeod, Chevrolet, 165.
27. (35) Matt Mills, Chevrolet, 165.
28. (7) Ryan Sieg, Chevrolet, 165.
29. (24) Caesar Bacarella, Chevrolet, 163.
30. (19) Chad Finchum, Toyota, Power Steering, 160.
31. (34) Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, 148.
32. (11) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 146.
33. (29) Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, Transmission, 67.
34. (20) Vinnie Miller, Chevrolet, DVP, 58.
35. (13) Brett Moffitt(i), Chevrolet, Accident, 56.
36. (33) Stephen Leicht, Toyota, Handling, 49.
37. (30) Kody Vanderwal #, Chevrolet, Engine, 32.
Average Speed of Race Winner: 118.752 mph.
Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 6 Mins, 34 Secs.
Margin of Victory: 0.179 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 5 for 25 laps.
Lead Changes: 18 among 7 drivers.
Lap Leaders: N. Gragson 1-23;R. Chastain 24-27;R. Sieg 28-41;N. Gragson 42-45;R. Chastain 46;A. Cindric 47-61;R. Chastain 62-71;N. Gragson 72-83;D. Earnhardt Jr. 84-87;R. Chastain 88-92;A. Cindric 93;R. Chastain 94-99;A. Cindric 100-107;N. Gragson 108-121;B. Jones 122;R. Sieg 123-135;N. Gragson 136-165;H. Burton # 166-167.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Noah Gragson 5 times for 83 laps; Ryan Sieg 2 times for 27 laps; Ross Chastain 5 times for 26 laps; Austin Cindric 3 times for 24 laps; Dale Earnhardt Jr. 1 time for 4 laps; Harrison Burton # 1 time for 2 laps; Brandon Jones 1 time for 1 lap.
Stage #1 Top Ten: 39,10,9,22,36,47,8,11,19,08
Stage #2 Top Ten: 9,22,10,8,19,11,20,21,39,7