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Harrison Burton Hopes to Build Momentum at Richmond

Photo Credit: Tyson Gifford, TobyChristie.com

Several drivers are still looking to find momentum, six races into 2024. Harrison Burton hopes that Richmond Raceway is where his luck will turn around.The newly-engaged driver is coming off a difficult weekend at Circuit of The Americas, putting together a 30th-place result. While some drivers felt they lacked speed because of the aero package, Burton was dealing with another issue, sharing that he was struggling in the braking zones.

“Turn One and then Turn 12 we were off and everywhere else we were a top five, top 10 average, and then just get killed in the braking zones,” Burton said Saturday. “So, there’s a lot of things we can try and do to make that better and I think once we get that we’ll be really fast, it’s just about how much you sacrifice in other places to kind of gain in different areas of the racetrack.”

Thankfully, Burton won’t have to deal with another road course until the NASCAR Cup Series heads to a freshly-repaved Sonoma Raceway in June. However, last weekend did mark another up-and-down event for the No. 21 team.

“It’s been frustrating times it’s been good at times. I think you know, the first two weekends we came out and did our jobs,” Burton said. “With the Daytona crash, there is nothing you can do. But then moving to Phoenix and Vegas, we struggled for speed and then we went to Bristol and had a lot of speed and led at practice and qualified decently I could have qualified much better but didn’t quite nail a lot. But still, 13th was in a bad spot and then obviously we had some tire issues.”

The 23-year-old hopes to leave some of his more frustrating efforts in the dust, as he looks ahead to this weekend at Richmond Raceway, and the next couple of weeks afterward at Martinsville Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, and Talladega Superspeedway.

During his NASCAR Xfinity Series career, Burton ran incredibly well at these tracks. In fact, half of his Xfinity Series wins came at Texas (2020) and Martinsville (2020). As for the Cup Series, Burton has never had the best luck at Talladega. He has been able to lead laps at the superspeedway and run toward the front of the pack, however, he has struggled to avoid big wrecks, resulting in poor finishing positions.

When viewing the upcoming non-superspeedway tracks on the schedule, Wood Brothers Racing has a chance to build some much-needed consistency. At Texas, Burton has never finished outside the top-20, while at Martinsville, his results have typically favored the Fall event with top-15 results, but with the new Dark Horse body, those results may turn around.

That brings us to Richmond where the No. 21 team hopes to kick off a positive run of races in hopes to capture Wood Brothers Racing’s 100th NASCAR Cup Series victory.

The last time the series went to a short track, fans were treated to a spectacular race where tire wear was king. With a different tire compound this weekend, Burton shares the wear should be much more manageable.

“Tire wear here should be a little bit more of a natural progression. Bristol is still not a rough surface it’s pretty smooth racetrack and so most of your tire wear is really heat-based and the track isn’t necessarily grinding the tire up,” he shared. “You’re just kind of wearing through the rubber and at that case, it was colder and there was no rubber being laid down. So it wasn’t like a slow progression like this racetrack or tire where it’s gonna be kind of more of a natural slow progression where Bristol it was kind of a light switch you had grip and then all sudden you quartered a right front and you were four or five seconds off the pace.”

In his third season with Wood Brothers Racing, Burton is looking to deliver the organization’s 100th win in the NASCAR Cup Series, and the team’s first since Pocono in 2017. The son of NASCAR Cup Series winner Jeff Burton qualified 26th for Sunday’s race, after practicing 11th.

But, while a victory may not be doable for Burton this weekend at the three-quarter-mile short track, it’s all about getting things going in the right direction, as he comes to tracks that he has found success at in the past. With speed from all of Team Penske, the No. 21 team is hopeful for a turnaround.

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