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Harrison Burton looks to extend Xfinity’s best rookie start since 2005

Parker Kligerman takes a virtual spin around Atlanta Motor Speedway and joins Steve Letarte and A. J. Allmendinger to preview this weekend's slate of NASCAR races there.

What a difference a year makes.

In 2019, seven races into the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season, Harrison Burton had four top 10s and two top fives while racing for Kyle Busch Motorsports, arguably the best team in the series.

By the end of a very disappointing year, Burton would be winless in his only full-time season on the circuit.

Flashforward to June. With seven races down in the Xfinity Series season, the son of NBC Sports analyst Jeff Burton is putting together a historic campaign.

Entering today’s Xfinity Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Harrison Burton is the lone driver to have finished in the top 10 in all seven races. That includes winning at Auto Club Speedway in March to claim his first career victory in a national NASCAR series race.

His fourth-place finish Monday at Bristol made Burton just the second Xfinity Series rookie to ever finish in the top 10 through seven races. The first was Carl Edwards in 2005. That season Edwards finished in the top 10 in the first nine races.

Burton is also the first Xfinity Series rookie of the year candidate - and the fifth driver overall - to ever have an average finish better than fifth place through seven races.

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“That’s obviously a great thing to have a win to kind of lean back on,” Burton said Thursday. “There are races where I felt like I could have done a better job. There are always things to work on, which is great. That’s something that’s really great about my team. We are really honest with each other – with everyone at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing). It’s ‘Hey, the car needs help here, but here is what I could (have) done too.’ Then you kind of formulate what your plan of attack is for the next week to kind of build on that.

“So yeah, it’s obviously a good start to the season. You want to win every single weekend, and that’s not always completely possible. You try your hardest and try to make it work the best you can. Fortunately, we have a win to kind of lean back on and hopefully, we can get some more.”

Today sees Burton making his first Xfinity start at Atlanta (4:30 p.m. ET on Fox). He’ll start fifth.

He has one Truck Series start on the 1.54-mile track, finishing eighth there last year. That same day, Christopher Bell dominated the Xfinity race at Atlanta while driving Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota. He led 142 of 163 laps before claiming the win.

“My biggest expectation is to just go out and perform like we always do,” Burton said. “I think there is an added bit of pressure with the Dash 4 Cash and things like that are going on that are super exciting. I think my expectations of my race team are at the highest level in any given situation, and for me as well. It starts with the driver and it starts with the crew chief; and then we can all work together and have the right mindset for this race. There’s obviously a little race in the race with the Dash 4 Cash, which is exciting, but the main goal is to win the race and do as well as we can no matter what.”

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