Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliland join Kyle Busch trucks program

Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /

Pair of 16-year old drivers to join Kyle Busch behind wheel of the No. 51 Toyota Tundra during 2017 Camping World Truck Series.

Kyle Busch Motorsports has announced their driver lineup for 15 of the 23 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events in 2017. Harrison Burton will pilot the No. 51 Toyota Tundra for six races while Todd Gilliland will take over for five others. Car owner Kyle Busch will run five in addition to his duties for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

An announcement of the final driver that will share driving duties will be announced shortly.

Burton is the 16-year old son of former NASCAR driver Jeff Burton and he will make his season debut on April 1 in the Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville Speedway. His other five events will be at Dover International Speedway June 2, Iowa Speedway in Newton June 23, Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio July 19, Bristol Motor Speedway Aug. 16 and the second Martinsville race on Oct. 28.

“I honestly feel like I have hit the jackpot by signing with a championship-caliber team like Kyle Busch Motorsports,” Burton said, in a release. “Having raced in Martinsville last season with KBM, I understand the strength of the team and have complete confidence that they can provide me with great race trucks while making my transition into the Truck series as smooth as possible.”

A NASCAR Next product, Burton competed full-time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2016 and finished seventh on points in his rookie campaign. He had one truck start for KBM last year at the age of 15 and was running at the end finishing 22nd at Martinsville.

“Harrison did a really nice job in his Truck Series debut at Martinsville this year and we are excited to be able to bring him back for a six-race schedule in 2017,” Busch said. “I think everyone at KBM was really impressed with how he handled himself on and off the track throughout the weekend at Martinsville and in the end, he was able to bring the truck back in one piece — which isn’t an easy task for a young driver at that track. We look forward to being a part of his continued development next season.”

Another 16-year old, Todd Gilliland, is also a NASCAR Next product with a racing lineage. He is a third-generation driver who will make his truck series debut on June 17 at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois then on to Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ont., Sept. 3, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon Sept. 23 and Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway Nov. 10.

“I’m very excited for the opportunity to race in the Truck Series for KBM next year and it wouldn’t be possible without the support of everyone at Toyota and TRD,” Gilliland said. “Moving up into the top levels of NASCAR is going to be a learning experience, but I know that I’m getting behind the wheel of fast Tundras and with the staff that they have in place at KBM and the knowledge that Kyle can pass along I’m going to learn a lot and continue to grow as a driver.”

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Gilliland competed in seven Super Late Model races for KBM in 2016 and had six victories this year in the K&N Pro Series West matching three other drivers for the series record for most wins in a single season. The series Rookie of the Year also became the youngest champion in the history of any NASCAR national or touring series.

In addition to his seven career K&N Pro Series victories, Gilliland made history in his ARCA Racing Series debut at Toledo (Ohio) Speedway in May of 2015 when he became the youngest winner in series history just two days after his 15th birthday. He finished ninth in his only other ARCA start at Iowa Speedway in July of 2015.

“Todd joined the driver lineup for our Super Late Model program this year and we liked what we saw with his competitive nature and strong work ethic, so we are looking forward to seeing him move up to the Truck Series program for 2017 and getting behind the wheel of our Tundras for four races,” Busch said. “He proved by winning several races in the K&N Series, both East and West, and the West Series championship that he has the talent to succeed in bigger stock cars and he deserves a chance to compete at higher levels next season.”

Busch, who ranks second on the Truck Series all-time win list with 46, will make his first start on Saturday March 4 at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway and will also race May 12 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, May 20 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, July 29 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and Aug. 12 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.