NASCAR team tired of not winning, linked to 2025 driver change

Wood Brothers Racing have been sitting at 99 NASCAR Cup Series wins for over seven years, despite having a technical partnership with Team Penske.
Harrison Burton, Wood Brothers Racing, Josh Berry, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR
Harrison Burton, Wood Brothers Racing, Josh Berry, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages

The last time a driver spent three consecutive full NASCAR Cup Series seasons with Wood Brothers Racing, it was Ricky Rudd behind the wheel of the No. 21 Ford from 2003 to 2005.

While Rudd was nearing the end of his Cup Series career at the time, he was a proven race winner. He took 23 checkered flags during his time in the series, including at least one each year from 1983 to 1998. In fact, he was just elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame in May.

So when the Wood Brothers made the decision to bring back Harrison Burton for a third season following two seasons of massive struggle, the decision was seen as a bit surprising.

Wood Brothers Racing returned to the Cup Series full-time for the first time since 2008 in 2016, and they did so with a full-time driver for the first time since Rudd's tenure, hiring Ryan Blaney to drive the No. 21 Ford.

Blaney had competed part-time for Team Penske in the Xfinity Series, and with Wood Brothers Racing having formed a technical alliance with Roger Penske's team in 2014, Blaney was the logical choice to put in the sister car.

After a 21st place finish in the championship standings as a rookie, Blaney won a race at Pocono Raceway in 2017, giving Wood Brothers Racing their 99th NASCAR Cup Series victory. He advanced to the playoffs and made a deep run to the semifinal round en route to a ninth place finish in the standings.

Blaney left for Team Penske in 2018, when Paul Menard took over. Menard didn't do anything flashy, but he still recorded back-to-back finishes of 19th place in the point standings. In 2020, Matt DiBenedetto took over and advanced to the playoffs en route to a 13th place finish. After he missed the postseason and finished 18th in 2021, he was replaced.

Burton recorded just two top 10 finishes as a rookie in 2022 and finished in 27th place in the point standings, the lowest for a full-time Wood Brothers Racing driver since Elliott Sadler in 2000. Then in 2023, he again recorded only two top 10 finishes, and he finished in 31st. Through 19 races in 2024, he has just one top 10 finish, and he sits in 33rd.

Let's not forget that Team Penske won the NASCAR Cup Series championship in both 2022 and 2023.

And even in what has been a bit of a rough season for Ford, Blaney and teammates Joey Logano and Austin Cindric have all found victory lane.

Several reliable sources have indicated that Burton's time at Wood Brothers Racing will be coming to an end at the end of the 2024 season.

With Stewart-Haas Racing set to shut down, Chase Briscoe was believed to be the most likely candidate to take over behind the wheel of the No. 21 Ford, but he is instead set to move to Joe Gibbs Racing to replace the retiring Martin Truex Jr. behind the wheel of the No. 19 Toyota.

Teammate Josh Berry, whose form has significantly picked up in recent weeks, is said to be under consideration for the Wood Brothers Racing seat as well.

Wood Brothers Racing's win drought recently eclipsed the 250-race mark, and assuming Burton doesn't find victory lane from now until the end of the year, they will begin the 2025 season on a 274-race losing streak following Blaney's victory at Pocono.

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Can Berry, who would become the fifth driver to have a chance to deliver the team their 100th NASCAR Cup Series victory, be the one to do it?