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Harrison Burton capitalizes from Ben Rhodes’ misfortune at Chicagoland

JOLIET, Ill. — Harrison Burton made strong inroads to kickstart a vital playoff push with a fourth-place finish in Friday night’s Camping World 225 at Chicagoland Speedway.

Burton and Ben Rhodes hold the final two points positions in the eight-driver playoff, but Ross Chastain’s victory last week at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway throws in a wrench. But in order for Chastain’s win to count for playoff eligibility, he needs to eclipse the top 20 in points by the end of the regular-season finale at Michigan. Following a seventh-place result on Friday night, Chastain is 10 points out from 20th in the standings.

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As Burton entered the race 53 points behind Ben Rhodes in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series points standings, Rhodes’ evening was over right after it began. The No. 99 ThorSport Racing Ford blew a puff of smoke at the start, forcing Rhodes out of the event with engines issues.

Rhodes’ misfortune allowed Burton to gain 40 points, sitting 13 points behind in what is evolving into a tight battle for the final playoff spot with four races remaining in the regular season. Burton’s been making a major push to earn a playoff spot with three top fives in his last four races.

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“Just gotta keep gaining, keep chipping away,” Burton said after the race. “We got a break tonight and he’s (Rhodes) a tough car to beat, so we just have to go out and have finishes like this, if not better.”

Facing scrutiny from team owner Kyle Busch earlier in the year, Burton acknowledged he has to be “perfect” to have any shot at earning a postseason ticket.

“It’s really, really hard to make these playoffs because there’s only eight positions and there’s a lot of competitive trucks,” Burton said. “Everyone is battling for a spot, just clawing and digging. We just have to keep doing that, keep being aggressive, keep showing up to bring our friends with us and take the spot from him.”