NASCAR: Wood Brothers Racing confirm driver announcement

Wood Brothers Racing are set to announce a driver change on Wednesday, with Harrison Burton set to be replaced behind the wheel of the No. 21 Ford for the 2025 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Harrison Burton, Wood Brothers Racing, NASCAR
Harrison Burton, Wood Brothers Racing, NASCAR / Logan Riely/GettyImages

When Wood Brothers Racing announced that Harrison Burton would be returning for a third year behind the wheel of the No. 21 Ford in the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season, the decision was viewed as somewhat puzzling.

The last time the team had a single driver spend three consecutive seasons with the organization, it was 23-time race winner and future Hall of Famer Ricky Rudd from 2003 to 2005. Burton, however, struggled in both 2022 and 2023, recording a total of four top 10 finishes in 72 races and finishing in 27th and 31st place in the point standings, respectively.

Through the first 19 races of the 2024 season, the 23-year-old Huntersville, North Carolina native has scored just four top 20 finishes, and his best finish is 10th place. He sits in 33rd in the point standings, second worst among full-time drivers, and the one driver he is ahead of, Spire Motorsports' Zane Smith, just recorded a runner-up finish.

Bottom line, Burton simply wasn't cutting it, and Wood Brothers Racing have decided that it is indeed time for a driver change.

Wood Brothers Racing set for major announcement

The team are set to confirm a new driver of the No. 21 Ford for the 2025 season on Wednesday. Stewart-Haas Racing's Chase Briscoe had been linked to the team before signing with Joe Gibbs Racing as the replacement for the retiring Martin Truex Jr. Now it is believed that fellow Stewart-Haas Racing driver Josh Berry will replace Burton.

Berry, like all of the Stewart-Haas Racing drivers, has been searching for a new home for the 2025 season, with his current team due to shut down at the end of the 2024 season.

The 33-year-old Hendersonville, Tennessee native, who replaced Kevin Harvick behind the wheel of the No. 4 Ford in 2024, has seen a recent uptick in performance.

After starting the year without a finish higher than 11th place in the first 12 races, he has recorded four top 10 finishes, including two third place results, in the seven most recent events to move up to 19th in the point standings.

In fact, every time he has finished a race during that stretch, he has finished inside the top 10. He qualified on the front row for his home race at Nashville Superspeedway this past weekend, but he was taken out in a late wreck.

Berry moving to Wood Brothers Racing should provide significant upside for both parties. Prior to Burton, the team's three most recent full-time drivers were Ryan Blaney (2016 and 2017), Paul Menard (2018 and 2019), and Matt DiBenedetto (2020 and 2021).

Blaney won a race and made it to the round of 8 in 2017, and DiBenedetto qualified for the playoffs in 2020. At no point did any one of the team's drivers finish lower than 21st place in the point standings during that six-year stretch.

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Wood Brothers Racing, which still have a technical alliance with Team Penske, have been sitting at 99 Cup Series victories since Blaney won at Pocono Raceway seven years ago. Provided Burton doesn't win any of the 2024 season's remaining 17 races, Berry has a chance to be the driver to deliver them that 100th win. He would become the fifth driver to have the chance to do so.