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Harrison Burton outduels Jeff Choquette in Rattler 250 thriller

51 Sports

Leading up to the final restart of Sunday’s Rattler 250, Jeff Burton told his young son “do what you need to do,” and that’s exactly what he did.

Harrison Burton outdueled Jeff Choquette over a series of restarts and emerged victorious with a bump-and-run of sorts in the final corner at South Alabama Speedway. Burton was leading late but lost the lead to Choquette on a restart with 14 laps to go, but was saved by a Stephen Nasse solo spin in Turn 4.

This time, Choquette had lane control and won the initial battle into Turn 1, but Burton stayed in his tracks. Burton got under Choquette coming to the white flag and drifted up the track in Turns 3 and 4, into Choquette and into the lead.

Burton says he learned from a mistake he made in the K&N Pro Series East season-opener, in which Burton made his move too soon on Todd Gilliland. In that race, he moved Gilliland out of the way with two laps to go, but that allowed Gilliland to get him back coming to the checkered flag.

This time, he was the last driver to apply the nudge, and it won him the race.

“I actually learned from what happened at New Smyrna,” Burton told Short Track Scene after the race. “Me and Todd, we had a good race but I made my move too early that night. It didn’t play to my advantage. You come here, we’re racing Choquette for the win, beating and banging, giving it all we got. Instead of being the guy on the outside, I was the guy on the inside and I did what I had to do.”

Choquette was able to hold onto his car and crossed the finish line second. Despite getting roughed up a little bit, he didn’t hold the move against Burton after the race.

In fact, he kind of admired it.

“It was good hard racing and I would have done the same thing,” Choquette said. “Car was too free all day. I’m not 100 percent sure that the nudge was 100 percent from him or our free in.

“Like I said, just good hard racing. He did what he had to do and I would have done what I needed to do.”

Asked if he was satisfied with the day, Choquette offered a stereotypical racer’s answer.

“Second don’t do it for me,” he said.

Since Burton is 17-years-old, he is not eligible for a full ARCA or NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season yet. He’s the defending K&N East champion so a repeat full-time effort doesn’t make sense, either. So the Burton have decided to race all over this season, becoming trophy hunters of sorts.

The Rattler 250 is arguably the most prestigious Super Late Model race he’s won yet.

“This trophy is cool, right,” Burton said. “I mean, this is why we do it. We want cool trophies. We want to race against the best. That’s how I’m going to keep improving as a driver. So to win this one, against Jeff and Bubba and these guys, this is as excited as I’ve been in a long time.”

Tyler Ankrum overcame a topsy-turvy day to finish third. Polesitter Raphael Lessard finished fourth after an up and down day that saw him penalized for passing the pace car while leading on lap 112.  In his first Super Late Model start, Corey Heim turned heads with a fifth-place finish.

The Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco will be back in action on April 7 for a tri-sanctioned event with the Champion Racing Association (CRA) and CARS Tour at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville (TN).

The complete results can be found below.

  1. Harrison Burton
  2. Jeff Choquette
  3. Tyler Ankrum
  4. Raphael Lessard
  5. Corey Heim
  6. Steve Wallace
  7. Augie Grill
  8. Chase Purdy
  9. Garrett Jones
  10. Kyle Plott
  11. Carson Hocevar
  12. Eddie Van Meter
  13. Dustin Smith
  14. Steve Dorer
  15. Corey LaJoie
  16. Stephen Nasse
  17. Kyle Bryant
  18. Scotty Ellis
  19. Bubba Pollard
  20. Steven Davis
  21. Dalton Armstrong
  22. Cole Anderson
  23. Bobby Knox Jr.
  24. Anthony Sergi
  25. Casey Roderick
  26. Chandler Smith
  27. Connor Okzesik
  28. Jerry Artuso

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Matt Weaver is the owner and founder of Short Track Scene. Weaver grew up in the sport, having raced himself before becoming a reporter in college at the University of South Alabama. He is also the associate motorsports editor of Autoweek Magazine and its website, which allows him to cover the highest levels of the sport.

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