NASCAR Xfinity Series sophomore Harrison Burton is going Cup Series racing. On Thursday, Gaunt Brothers Racing announced Burton will make his Cup début on 24 April at Talladega Superspeedway, where he will drive the #96 Toyota Camry. DEX Imaging, a longtime sponsor, will join him for his Cup effort.
He will be the first driver born in the 21st century to run a Cup race; the twenty-year-old was born on 9 October 2000.
“From the moment I started racing, the Cup Series was always the goal,” said Burton. “In everything I’ve done, I’ve been working toward this moment. I saw how hard my dad worked to get to Cup and how hard he worked to compete and win races. He instilled that same work ethic in me and I’m just really proud and honored to have the chance to do what he did and compete with the best of the best.”
The son of longtime Cup driver and current NBC commentator Jeff Burton, Burton currently sits third in the Xfinity standings with top-ten finishes in all but two of seven races. After failing to win a race or make the playoffs in his lone full Truck Series season in 2019, he quickly showed his stuff at the Xfinity level with Joe Gibbs Racing as he scored top tens in the first ten races of 2020 en route to four wins and an eighth-place points finish.
Burton’s two career Xfinity starts at Talladega ended with finishes of thirty-second and twenty-third, the former due to a wreck, but he has seen strong runs at fellow superspeedway Daytona with top fives in his three runs there. He finished eleventh in his lone Talladega Truck race in 2019.
“As a Toyota team, we’ve seen firsthand how well Harrison has developed,” commented GBR owner Marty Gaunt. “He’s been racing and winning in Toyotas for years, and yet he’s still only 20 years old. He has a very bright future ahead of him and we aim to make his Cup Series debut a successful one.”
DEX Imaging has sponsored Burton throughout his ascent up the NASCAR ladder. He has three wins in the ARCA Menards Series and won the 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (now ARCA East) championship.
“Our partnership with Harrison goes back to when he was 13 years old racing late models, and DEX Imaging has grown right along with him,” DEX CEO Dan Doyle Jr. said. “We’ve been a part of a lot of firsts with Harrison, from his first Super Late Model start to his first K&N start, first ARCA start, first Truck Series start, first Xfinity Series start and, now, first Cup Series start. We’ve enjoyed a lot of success together and look forward to this next chapter with him.”
GBR downscaled to a part-time schedule in 2021 with Ty Dillon, who is one of Burton’s Xfinity team-mates. After failing to qualify for the Daytona 500, Dillon finished nineteenth at the Daytona Road Course and twenty-sixth at Bristol.
Burton is the second confirmed Cup newcomer for Talladega alongside Truck veteran Jennifer Jo Cobb, who joined Rick Ware Racing for the race on Tuesday.