The 22-year-old son of NASCAR veteran and now TV analyst Jeff Burton is running out of time as only two races remain in the 2023 regular season – Sunday at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and the following week at Daytona International Speedway.
The superspeedway races always offer the chance of a surprise winner, particularly because of their unpredictable nature and the penchant for large wrecks that can take out several contenders at a time.
Last season, the Daytona 500 was won by Austin Cindric, who was a rookie in the Cup series at that time. Additionally, Austin Dillon secured a place in the playoffs by winning the second Daytona race.
Burton, currently ranked 30th in the series standings with his No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford team, must secure a victory within the next two weeks in order to qualify for the 16-driver field. He views both upcoming weekends as opportunities that could significantly impact the outcome.
Harrison Burton, Wood Brothers Racing, Ford 20 Year Sr Master Techs Ford Mustang
Photo by: David Rosenblum / NKP / Motorsport Images
Burton expressed his belief that his chances at Daytona are quite achievable. He stated that throughout his entire Cup career, he has only had two genuine opportunities to secure a victory, and this year has presented him with two such chances.
“I considered the (Daytona) 500 of this year as a genuine opportunity for victory, as we were in the lead with approximately 12 or 13 laps remaining. However, I was unexpectedly pushed out of the lead, which prevented us from securing the win. I truly believe we had a real shot at winning.”
“Afterwards, at Darlington, the final two restarts presented a promising opportunity for victory despite the chaotic circumstances. I believe those two races were favorable for our team.”
The Cup series will make a comeback to Darlington this year, but unfortunately not until after the playoffs start, which is not advantageous for Burton.
NASCAR’s decision to designate the summer Daytona race as the ultimate qualifier for the playoffs has already demonstrated the possibility of unexpected victors.
Daniel Suarez, TrackHouse Racing, Tootsies Orchid Lounge Chevrolet Camaro, Harrison Burton, Wood Brothers Racing, Motorcraft/DEX Imaging Ford Mustang, Ryan Preece, Stewart-Haas Racing, HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang
Photo by: John Harrelson / NKP / Motorsport Images
“I cannot reword”
I view it as a genuine and achievable opportunity. If I didn’t, I likely wouldn’t bother attending. I believe it’s a fundamental aspect of what drives race car drivers.
However, Burton’s focus remains on the upcoming road course at The Glen this weekend.
He achieved his highest career finish in the Cup series by placing third on the Indy Road Course last season. Currently, he is dedicated to analyzing his performance in the previous Indy race and getting ready for the upcoming Sunday race.
“I have access to the Ford simulator for four hours every week, and I consistently use it to practice on the race track from the previous week,” he mentioned. “Just yesterday, I utilized the simulator to refine my skills on last week’s track and also spent some time simulating Indy to ensure better accuracy.”
“I dedicated significant effort to perfecting the set-up at Watkins Glen. The effectiveness of your simulation program directly impacts your ability to fine-tune details at the race track, enabling you to swiftly ignite the truck and achieve speed.”
Burton also hopes the recent string of Ford victories in the Cup series – Ford drivers have won three consecutive races at the Richmond, Michigan and Indy Road Course – is a good omen.
Ford only registered one win in the first 13 races this season but now has four in the last 11, including three straight.
Burton expressed confidence in the abilities of the Fords. He emphasized that it is now our group’s responsibility to determine the approach and direction required to achieve success. He also mentioned progress made in our oval program.