BRISTOL, Tenn. — Audio and recap by Race Chaser Online Northeast Correspondent Kyle Magda — Getty Images for NASCAR photo —
A familiar name graced atop the leader-board Friday evening at Bristol Motor Speedway.
15-year-old Harrison Burton ran a lap of 15.71 seconds to secure the pole for Saturday’s PittLite 125 and become the youngest pole-sitter in BMS track history. Burton led the first practice and when the lights began to illuminate around the .533-mile track,the second-generation driver set a new track record at 122.139 mph, breaking the previous mark set by Jesse Little last season.
“The track was really, really good tonight, a whole lot of grip,” Burton said. “It was just hammer down for me. The car was almost perfect, so I had a great race car to go out and qualify on the pole with and my dad is always chiming in with tips. He’s been doing it for so long and has so many great insights on what this sport is like and I’m still just kind of learning it, so it always good to get his advice.”
Burton’s best finish so far this season is seventh at Mobile, but looks to improve on that once the green flag falls Saturday afternoon. He didn’t turn a lap on the Bristol high banks until first practice, a little while after the stars and cars of the Sprint Cup Series finished pole qualifying for their race.
“This place is a whole lot of fun, it’s just that simple,” Burton said. “It’s a lot of banking, you’re in the gas way over the majority of the racetrack. You get out, you just barely breathe it in these K&N cars around here in qualifying, so it’s just a lot fun.” “I think our car will be really, really sporty for the race tomorrow. I think we have a pretty good shot to finish where he start.”
Starting alongside the No. 12 DEX Imaging Toyota is Rette-Jones Racing driver Dominique Van Wieringen as she tied her best-career starting spot with a second coming only a month before at Mobile and led the first 30 laps, the most-ever by a female driver in the K&N East Series.
Two rookies share the front row for Saturday’s PittLite 125, but a familiar face starts in row two. Most notably, he’s the defending race winner and looking to add another Bristol trophy to his collection.
Kyle Benjamin qualified third at 15.835 seconds and was one of three drivers to eclipse the old K&N East track qualifying record which was set by Jesse Little last March at 15.891 seconds.
“The track was really fast compared to what we had today,” Benjamin said. “Everybody ran like at least two-to-three tenths faster than what we did, so that changed things a little bit, but everybody is in the same boat anyways. Car was good, we just a little snug getting in, a little free up off and we’ll be fine in the race. We started eighth last year, so it doesn’t really matter. You can pass here, that’s the most important thing.”
“I think it’s pretty good. We didn’t get a lot of practice today, but I think we’re on the right track and we should be fine.”
Martin-McClure Racing makes their 2016 debut this weekend at Bristol with not one, but two entries for the PittLite 125. Chad Finchum put up the fourth-fastest time at 15.895 seconds, as veteran driver Caleb Holman slotted in 13th and ran strong in last August’s Camping World Truck Series race before being taken out in a crash while running strong.
2015 Motordrome winner Dillon Bassett completed the top-five at 16.038 seconds. The top-four cars all ran in a lap faster than 16 seconds during the twilight hours at the Tennessee track. Brother Ronnie Bassett Jr. was sixth, followed by Collin Cabre, Todd Gilliland, points leader Spencer Davis and Justin Haley to round out the top-10.
Friday evening’s 21 Means 21 Pole Qualifying session was also the first time to feature group qualifying at an oval. Cars ran in groups of 10 for five minutes to set their starting spot for Saturday’s race.
There was one incident during qualifying when Tyler Dippel lost control of his No. 38 Chevrolet and slid down the banking as Jesse Little tried to avoid the 15-year-old, but lost control of his own car and sustained heavy damage to the second Rette- Jones Racing entry.
Little said on Twitter after the session ended:
“Feel terrible for my sponsors and guys. No back-up for us so I’m heading back to the house. We’ll be back.”
The green flag for Saturday’s PittLite 125 drops approximately at 4:30 p.m. ET and you can follow @RaceChaserNews for live race updates from Bristol Motor Speedway.
STARTING GRID: NASCAR K&N Pro Series East; PittLite 125; Bristol Motor Speedway; April 15, 2016
- Harrison Burton
- Dominique Van Wieringen
- Kyle Benjamin
- Chad Finchum
- Dillon Bassett
- Ronnie Bassett Jr.
- Collin Cabre
- Todd Gilliland
- Spencer Davis
- Justin Haley
- Kaz Grala
- J.A. Junior Avila
- Caleb Holman
- Noah Gragson
- John Holleman IV
- Trey Hutchens
- Hunter Baize
- Gracin Raz
- Tyler Dippel
- Riley Herbst
- Codie Rohrbaugh
- Reid Lanpher
- Austin Theriault
- Ruben Garcia Jr.
- Sarah Cornett-Ching
- Eddie MacDonald
- Christian Celaya
- Ali Kern
- Clayton Green
- Jesse Little
Audio with pole-sitter Harrison Burton:
Audio with third-place qualifier Kyle Benjamin: