Drivers who could be out: No. 5 – Harrison Burton
Harrison Burton has had a disappointing first season in the NASCAR Cup Series behind the wheel of the #21 Ford for Wood Brothers Racing, to say the least. While he does bring sponsorship, could it end up being his first and only season in the series?
After spending the last two seasons competing for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series, Burton replaced Matt DiBenedetto at the Team Penske-affiliated team in 2022.
In two seasons behind the wheel of the #21 Ford, DiBenedetto earned six top five finishes and 20 top 10 finishes. He finished in 13th and 18th place in the championship standings in 2020 and 2021, qualifying for the playoffs in the former.
Burton sits in 28th place in the point standings (would be 29th if not for Brad Keselowski’s penalty) and hasn’t finished a single race in the top 10. In fact, the lower of DiBenedetto’s two single-season average finishes was 16.9. Through 18 races in 2022, Burton has only topped that mark on three occasions.
The problem for Burton is that this wasn’t exactly unexpected. Yes, he did win four races for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2020, but he went winless last year, which is never a good sign when you’re competing for a top-tier team.
Additionally, driving for a top-tier Truck Series team in Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2019, he went winless and finished in 12th place in the championship standings. The kicker? Only 10 other drivers ran the full schedule.
Barring a significant improvement from Burton throughout the latter half of the 2022 season, the start of the Gen 7 will mark a new low for Wood Brothers Racing. As they continue to pursue their 100th win — and first in over five years — will they decide to move on?