K&N East Preview: Memphis

Harrison Burton

Harrison Burton has won two of the last three races to take over the K&N Pro Series East points lead. (Photo: Getty Images)

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The hottest driver in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East sits atop the championship standings headed into the series' inaugural visit to Memphis International Raceway in Millington, Tenn., Saturday, June 3 for the Memphis 125. 

Harrison Burton, the son of former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver and current NBC Sports television analyst Jeff Burton, has won two of the last three races to take over the K&N Pro Series East points lead. After winning his first series career race at Bristol Motor Speedway earlier this month, the Huntersville, North Carolina, driver backed that up with a win in the second of two NAPA Auto Parts Twin 100s at Virginia’s South Boston Speedway. 

The 16-year-old is the only driver to finish in the top five in all five races to date this season, and he’s built an 18-point lead atop the standings over Todd Gilliland as headed into Memphis. Burton has shown notable improvement after a rookie season that was marked by steady progress, posting an average finish of 3.0 this season — more than nine spots better than his final average finishing position a year ago. Perhaps more significantly, the NASCAR Next driver’s qualifying efforts have been much better this season — having only started outside the top five once, at South Boston, in a race he ended up winning.

Fast Facts

The Race: The Memphis 125 will be the sixth of 14 races on the 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule. 

The Procedure:
The maximum starting field is 24 cars, including provisionals. The first 20 cars will qualify through the group qualifying process while the remaining four spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The races will be 125 laps, spanning 93.75 miles. There will be a five-minute break at or near the completion of Lap 63.

The Track:
Built in 1998, the .75-mile paved tri-oval has hosted numerous local and national events including the NASCAR XFINITY Series, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and more. 

Race Winners:
This will be the first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race held at Memphis. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champions Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski have each won NASCAR XFINITY Series races at Memphis, as have Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr.

Race Notes

Revving Up: Tampa, Florida rookie Chase Cabre has been bringing a fast race car to the track as of late.

The 20-year-old Rev Racing driver won the pole for each of the Twin 100s at South Boston (Va.) Speedway, and he finds himself up to seventh in the overall standings with two top-10 finishes. With his fourth-place run in the second twin feature at South Boston, Cabre earned his best career series finish.

In five races this season, Cabre has only started outside the top 10 once.

He’s one of three Rev Racing drivers off to solid starts to the 2017 campaign. Mexican driver Ruben Garcia Jr. ranks third overall with a pair of top fives and four top 10s, while Las Vegas’ Jay Beasley is eighth in the standings on the strength of back-to-back top 10s entering the weekend.

Double Duty: Running both the K&N Pro Series East and West schedules this season has done nothing to slow third-generation driver Todd Gilliland.

Gilliland, who recently celebrated his 17th birthday, leads the West standings with four wins in six races as he tries to defend his 2016 series title. On the East side, Gilliland has climbed to second in the points behind Burton, having posted podium finishes in three of his last four starts.

He is still searching for his first win of the season in the East, after winning last year’s season opener at New Smyrna from the pole.

Top Rookie:
Chase Purdy, 18, is turning his NASCAR Whelen All-American Series success into success at the next level.

Purdy, who finished a career-best second in the first of two 100s at South Boston (Va.) Speedway in his last outing, is fourth in the overall standings and is the highest-ranking rookie. The Tuscaloosa, Alabama, driver was the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series South Carolina state champion last season and the national Rookie of the Year.

Driving for car owner David Gilliland, Purdy led more than 115 total laps in the Twin 100s at South Boston before posting finishes of second and 11th, respectively.

Model of Consistency:
After posting 10 top-10 finishes in 14 starts as a rookie a year ago, Hunter Baize is proving to be the same model of consistency this season.

Baize, 19, of Bremen, Kentucky, has top-10 finishes in four of his five starts this season and currently sits fifth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East standings. His best finish of the season was fourth at Tennessee’s Bristol Motor Speedway, but it was his rebound at South Boston that might have been most impressive.

A crash ended Baize’s night early in the first of two twin 100 features, but his No. 13 Blue Ridge Auto Group Toyota rebounded with a big seventh-place effort in the second event an hour and a half later to keep him squarely in the championship hunt.

NASCAR Coast to Coast
Each Wednesday at 4 p.m. (ET), hosts Kyle Rickey and Buddy Long give you all the news, race results and highlights from NASCAR Modified and K&N Pro Series East and West races from all over the country along with interviews with race winners and news makers.

Next MRN Broadcast

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Dec. 12, 2017 7:00 PM ET

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