MARTINSVILLE, Va. — It’s been a while since a pair of Burtons hit the track for a NASCAR national series race — nearly a decade to be exact.
That will change Saturday as Harrison Burton and Jeb Burton, sons of former drivers Jeff and Ward Burton respectively, will race in the Texas Roadhouse 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Martinsville Speedway (1 p.m. ET, FS1).
The two cousins haven’t raced alongside each other in NASCAR, but grew up watching their fathers battle it out all over the country. This small Virginia town is home away from home for both drivers, and a win for either Harrison, 17, or Jeb, 25, would be cause for celebration.
“I would rather lose to him (Harrison) than someone else,” Jeb Burton said ahead of the first Camping World Truck Series practice. “At least we are keeping it in the family, the Burton name. Hopefully, we can both be sitting here on Sundays. That’s our goal. That’s why we are here. I think we can both get the job done.”
Despite never going for the same checkered flag in a NASCAR race, the two cousins aren’t new to a little family rivalry. Saturday will be no different than a friendly game of Madden on the Xbox, except perhaps for bigger stakes — and a potential uncomfortable holiday season on the horizon.
“I think I’m going to race Jeb just like anyone else, and he will race me just like anyone else,” said Harrison Burton, the 2017 K&N Pro Series East champion. “Once you strap into that race car you’re there to do the best you can. You’ll race everyone the same hopefully. … It’s not going to be like I get to Jeb and punt him out of the way. I think that would be an awkward Thanksgiving dinner.”
The two young drivers will use the Camping World Truck Series opportunity to boost their resumes for the 2018 season.
Harrison, who can’t run tracks longer than 1 mile in length for another year due to age restriction (must be 18), wants to improve himself as a driver with sights set on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. A win among his potential peers would be more than satisfying, especially on a track he knows well.
Jeb, the ‘veteran’ of the two cousins, has yet to secure a full-time ride for next year, but has several runs in all three national series.
“We are really close to getting something done,” Jeb Burton said about next season’s outlook. ” … We are working hard on it.”