Harrison Burton did what he needed to do to win the 42nd Annual Rattler 250 Sunday afternoon at South Alabama Speedway. The 17-year-old rising star from Mooresville, NC swapped paint with veteran Jeff Choquette on the final lap and pulled away off the final turn to win the season opener for the Southern Super Series presented by Sunoco.
Burton summed up the thrilling shootout with Choquette by using one word: craziness.
“I got a good restart the first time and then he did what he had to do to get by me and then I had to do what I had to do to get back around him,” Burton said on the Speed51.com live broadcast. “I’ve never been so happy to get a friggen rattlesnake around my neck, what’s the deal with that?
“This is cool. This is cool. These guys back here deserve it. We had a lot of adversity we had to deal with it today, so this makes it a lot cooler.”
After sliding up the race track in the final turn, Choquette hung on to finish second. At the end of the day, he chalked up the final laps to some good old-fashioned racing.
“He was doing what he had to do and if I was in that same position I would have done the same thing,” Choquette admitted. “We wound up second here, so kind of redeemed ourselves a little bit from last night. But yeah, just good hard racing. You’re coming to the checkered of the Rattler so you’re going to do whatever you have to do.”
For Burton, the win will go down as one of the favorites of his young career. Not only was his triumph special because of the prestige of the Rattler 250, but also because of the way in which he won the race.
“It’s up there,” Burton stated. “I never seem to rank my races off of where it was or what it was, it’s all about what happened. When you race hard for a win like that, it’s fun man. It’s so cool when you cross that line out front. I experienced exactly what Choquette went through at New Smyrna with the K&N Series. It’s just racing, man. It’s just racing, it’s awesome.”
Upon exiting his car in victory lane, Burton’s excitement couldn’t be contained. He pumped his fists, picked up his mother Kim and began a jubilant celebration with his crew.
When asked about what made him so excited, Burton admitted it came down to one thing: winning.
“Because I love races and I love winning races,” he said. “This is what you put your whole life into. I’ve given up so much, my family has given up so much and the people behind me have given up so much. Your whole passion is about winning. It’s not about driving for me, it’s about winning. When you’re able to accomplish that it’s just awesome.”
Tyler Ankrum had the best view in the house, following Burton and Choquette across the finish line in 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).
For more information on the Southern Super Series, visit www.southernsuperseries.com.