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Harrison Burton next to join the Wood Brothers legacy

20-year-old Harrison Burton is signed to Wood Brothers Racing for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, the 99-time NASCAR Cup Series race-winning organization announced on Thursday (July 15).

The announcement was released in a series of major Team Penske bulletins mid-week, including the news of the team’s winningest driver all-time, Brad Keselowski, leaving after attempting to buy a stake of the team.

Harrison Burton celebrates his Martinsville trophy last October. Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR

With Keselowski out at Penske following this season, defending NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Austin Cindric has been promoted straight to the No. 2 Ford for the 2022 Cup season. In October, Cindric signed a contract extension with Penske which would have him take over the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 Mustang for the 2022 season. Because of the 2012 Cup Series champion’s departure and Cindric’s quick promotion, the Wood Brothers Racing team has opted to sign another young Xfinity Series star to take over the historic red-and-white Ford.

Burton, son of Jeff Burton who scored 21 Cup Series wins between 1997 and 2008, will drive the Wood’s machine with added sponsorship from DEX Imaging, who currently sponsors the young Xfinity Series driver at Joe Gibbs Racing. Additionally, DEX currently serves as an associate sponsor at Penske’s organization with Ryan Blaney and IndyCar driver Scott McLaughlin.

Wood Brothers declared they chose Burton in favor of DiBenedetto due to the launch of the Next Gen car, the new body of Cup Series cars which is set to launch at the start of the 2022 season.

Burton, who turns 21 in October, is competing against Cindric for the 2021 Xfinity Series title and searching for his first victory in this championship run. On his way to win Rookie of The Year honors last year, Burton won four times and finished 8th in the final standings. The second-generation driver is the first person to start a Cup Series race born in this millennium.

With Burton departing Joe Gibbs Racing in the Xfinity Series, he leaves the Toyota Racing Development program, which he has been apart of his entire professional career. With Toyota, Burton won the 2017 ARCA East Championship.

Harrison Burton celebrates a win in last year’s Xfinity Series race at Martinsville Speedway. Photo by Justin Melillo/TRE

Glen Wood, Dan Gurney, Cale Yarborough, David Pearson, Neil Bonnett, Buddy Baker, A.J. Foyt, Kyle Petty, Morgan Shepherd, Dale Jarrett, Elliott Sadler, and Trevor Bayne are among those who have won with the team from Stuart, Virginia. 

DiBenedetto drives the Motorcraft Mustang at Nashville Superspeedway last month. Photo by Jeff Ames/TRE

Now based in Penske’s Charlotte, N.C. shop, Wood Brothers Racing sits at 99 victories in Cup Series competition. The team that opened in 1950, NASCAR’s second season, has been stuck one victory shy of 100 wins since Blaney’s lone win with the team at Pocono Raceway in June 2017.

As Burton takes over the seat for 2022, that leaves Matt DiBenedetto once again searching for a ride. DiBenedetto has 27 Top-10 finishes in 233 Cup Series starts, including 16 in 57 starts with the Wood family. Our Jonathan Fjeld broke down the possibilities of where the California native can find himself racing in 2022.

SOURCES:
NASCAR
Racing-Reference.Info

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