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Silly Season: Harrison Burton May Not Return To The 21 in 2024

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Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
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"We'll see," Harrison Burton said when asked about his future with the Wood Brothers following crew chief swap

What’s Happening?

Stephen Stumpf from the Frontstretch caught up with Harrison Burton at Darlington Speedway to ask about the personnel changes announced by Team Penske. Known as a “crew chief switch”, the change would mean that the No. 21’s crew chief, Brian Wilson would head over to helm Austin Cindric’s No. 2 Penske Ford while Burton and the Wood Brothers would get the No. 2’s crew chief. This swap is effective immediately, just in time for the final 10 races of the season, and will continue on into the 2024 season.

When asked if the crew chief swap was an indication of whether or not Burton would return to the No. 21 car for the Wood Brothers in 2024, the driver seemed fairly uncertain of his future plans. He stated that it just depends on how they performed the rest of the season.

You Need To Know:

  • It has been a tough 2023 for Harrison Burton and the Wood Brothers racing team. Not only did they miss the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, they weren’t even remotely in contention to win their way in, let alone earn a spot on points. In the first 26 races of the year, Harrison Burton and his No. 21 team have earned a total of 2 top-10s (a 6th place at the spring Darlington race and 8th at Pocono). They typically run and finish in the mid-to-low 20s and upper 30s and have been prone to being involved in on-track (and off-track) incidents throughout the year.
  • Considering the team’s average poor performance and the fact that Harrison Burton’s contract is set to expire at the end of the year, it’s not hard to see why he’s feeling the pressure. He notes in this interview that while they’ve had a couple of good runs, they have just as many (if not more) bad ones. In the interview, he says that the crew chief swap is a good sign that the team is committed to getting better and improving performance, just as he is. He’s just not so certain that their plan for improvement includes him as their driver in 2024.
  • Largely, fans are happy with the prospect of Burton being out over at the Woods Brothers, many of them criticizing his lack of talent and poor results. While Matty D. was a fan favorite when he piloted the No. 21, his being ousted for Burton has left a bad taste in the mouths of many fans, a small trace of which can certainly still be tasted today.

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The Main Characters

This news story really started to become relevant when Team Penske announced that their No. 2 team with Austin Cindric would trade their crew chief, Jeremy Bullins, with the crew chief of the No. 21, Brian Wilson. With both Cindric and Burton missing the playoffs by a large points margin and being relatively uncompetitive, the change is hardly a surprise. It would make perfect sense for both teams to want to improve and strive for better results.

Harrison Burton has struggled since taking over the No. 21 Woods Brothers car in 2022. The fact that his future in the car isn’t yet secure shouldn’t be a huge surprise, either. Only time will tell if the two parties can perform well enough to justify a contract extension.

In The Stands

J. D. English asked this question when the crew chief swap was first announced. According to this interview, nothing is confirmed when it comes to Harrison Burton’s future.

Grady1957 says that Burton is proof that talent skips a generation. As a Dale Jr. fan, I take offense to that. But he begs for the 21 to get a “real driver” like Zane Smith or Cole Custer. Hmm…it’s possible, I suppose. But is it likely?

YogiSam wants a driver switch as well, stating that it’s time for a change.

Magic Mike theorizes that the Woods Brothers are kicking themselves for letting Matty D go in favor of Burton.

Cooper Sweeny also calls for a replacement driver to take over the No. 21 next year.

Wyatt says that Burton is a cool dude after meeting him a Martinsville. See, not everybody wants him out of a ride!

Cooper Sweeny is also launching a campaign for Burton to join the staff at a McDonald’s in Charlotte for 2024. Ouch!

Tucker Gray is praying for Burton to go to the 10 car in 2024. I hate to say it, but that doesn’t look possible at this point.

How do you all feel about the news that Burton might not be returning? Let us know your thoughts, Daily Downforce readers! And keep it right here for all the latest in the world of NASCAR!

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Picture of Cody Williams

Cody Williams

Cody Williams is the author of BUNNY BOY and THE FIFTH LINE. He lives near Bristol, TN.
All Posts