Harrison Burton has been tapped by Wood Brother Racing to drive its iconic No. 21 Ford in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, the team announced Thursday, July 15.
Burton, the son of former Cup driver Jeff Burton, will take over the ride from Matt DiBenedetto, who has driven the car since 2020.
Austin Cindric had previously been announced as inheriting the No. 21, but he was revealed as taking over Team Penske’s No. 2 car on Thursday.
Burton, 20, currently drives the No. 20 in the Xfinity Series for Joe Gibbs Racing. He has four career wins in the series, but none this year. Through 18 races, he is fifth in the points standings with five top-five finishes.
He made his Cup debut earlier this year at Talladega Superspeedway driving the No. 96 Toyota for Gaunt Brothers Racing. He finished 20th.
“Since I began racing quarter midgets, the hope and goal was always to become a full-time driver in the NASCAR Cup Series,” Burton said in a press release. “Now, I get to do this with one of the most storied teams in NASCAR history in the Wood Brothers and with an association with Ford Motor Company and Ford Performance. I don’t think I could have dreamt of a better situation to put myself in when it comes to the start of my NASCAR Cup Series career. Add to that the technical alliance with Team Penske and the knowledge I’ll gain from working with their drivers and I’m really excited for 2022 and the future. This is a great opportunity for me and I can’t thank Eddie and Len Wood enough for giving me this chance.”
Sponsor support for Burton in 2022 will include Ford Quick Lane and Motorcraft.
“As a team owner, you always want to keep an eye for the future and what’s best for your organization in hopes to set yourself up for success long-term,” said team President and Co-Owner Eddie Wood in the release. “As things have progressed and changed over the last few months, we had the chance to look at what our options are and when we determined that Harrison would be available for our team, we wanted to jump at the opportunity to work with him. Harrison is young, but comes from a family full of successful race car drivers. The advice and support they can offer to Harrison as he makes this transition will be very important to his success. What a lot of us forget is that he is not even 21 years old yet and has only been racing in both the Truck Series and Xfinity Series for a couple of years. So when we looked at the future and finding someone to build our program around, Harrison seemed like a great option.”
“We are quite excited to begin working with Harrison and 2022 is perfect timing,” said team Co-Owner Len Wood. “With the introduction of the new Next Gen car next year, we have the ability to grow with him and build our program around what he wants. We don’t want to say it puts him on a level playing field, because there are a lot of great drivers in the Cup Series, but having a rookie come in at the same time a new car is introduced will help build us a solid foundation and hopefully get us off to a strong start.”
Wood Brothers Racing is the oldest active NASCAR team and one of the winningest teams in series history. The team currently has 99 wins. The most recent was earned by Ryan Blaney in 2017 at Pocono Raceway.
Not the news we want and not the video I enjoyed making but here it is https://t.co/Ab6ik1bCuj
— Matt DiBenedetto (@mattdracing) July 15, 2021
About the author
Daniel McFadin is a 7-year veteran of the NASCAR media corp. He wrote for NBC Sports from 2015 to October 2020. He's currently a freelancer and lead reporter and editor for Frontstretch. He is also host of the NASCAR show "Dropping the Hammer with Daniel McFadin" on YouTube and in podcast form.
You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Shocking since he has been in the Toyota pipeline, but they have a bottleneck at the Cup level.
I like Harrison, but think he is too young and it is too early to throw him into a cup ride.
Big hill to climb. The name will bring sponsorship for sure and having his father shilling on NBC also gets TV time. An excellent business decision.
However, he is in superior Xfinity equipment and hasn’t won.
Time, patience, and perseverance. Let’s see what happens. On the surface, he checks a lot of boxes.
Interesting choice. I don’t think success will be a sure thing but it certainly could be. Too bad for Matty D., he was a likeable guy. Bottom line is, if you don’t contend for top 10s then you are ripe to lose your ride. It’s been one of the more active silly seasons this year. Probably because of the turning of the page with the next gen car coming next year.
I think it’s neat that the Woods & Burtons are old southern Virginia families. Hope he does well.
I just wish they all sounded like Ward when they talked. I miss him.
“I think it’s neat that the Woods & Burtons are old southern Virginia families”
So you consider that comment racist?
You deserve whatever abuse you get.
I think someone had their posts removed. I missed them as well, but Bill B doesn’t usually roam around here mumbling to himself. Too much… lol
Yep housekeeping showed up and cleaned up. As a result some of the comments don’t make sense now. It looks like they’ve went back a few days. That was a reply to someone who’s name rhymed with the word “probe”, not you. : )
From what I’ve seen in NXS, I haven’t been impressed with Burton. And even though I’m not a fan of Matty D, I do believe he is a better driver than Burton. But Burton has the family connections and is young. I guess Matt has aged out of even the mid-tier rides.
It really is time NASCAR fans admitted that drivers rarely get rides because of their ability, even those who happen to be your favorites.
Kyle Busch was probably the last to earn a ride on ability and then when he failed to live up to the fake HMS choir boy image, he got dumped in favor of the tee shirt salesman, but quickly landed the best ride of his career at JGR.
And Brad didn’t !
Since Brad is older than Kyle, I consider Kyle to be the more recent. Also Brad isn’t nearly the driver that KyBu is.
Regardless of age. Kyle got his first cup win in 2005, while Brad was trying to work his way up the chain. Brad got his first win in 2009 when Edwards thought he would make Brad lift and he didn’t. Name one current driver that is nearly the driver Kyle Busch is !! Brad Keselowski is a good driver and has been good for the sport.
Jobe it was chase Elliott to be brought up to cup on ability. He won the x-finity championship didn’t he
We also can’t leave out William Byron he won a x-finity championship also on his ability to move to cup.
Good! Housekeeping finally showed up. About time.
Seems like they get whatever driver is assigned to them. Certainly not a step forward. Hope it works out for them.
For once I have to agree with JO—- This child of connections has been relatively blah despite his TopNothch equipment.