By: Ashley McCubbin
While some drivers are still trying to work out their plans for 2022, Harrison Burton already knows what he will be doing – racing in the NASCAR Cup Series for Wood Brothers Racing.
Although many are discussing the possibilities of what Burton can accomplish in the next step of young racing career, he admits he has not set any goals or expectations quite yet.
“I’m still so focused on trying to be an Xfinity Series champion, trying to kind of excel at the level I’m at right now, and I feel the more effort I put into this season, the more results I get out of this season, the better I’ll be next season,” he told NEWS FROM THE PITS.
Burton currently enters the break ranked fifth in the standings, 182 points behind Austin Cindric. The bigger surprise, though, is the big fat zero in the win column after being able to do that multiple times in 2020. However, six top-five’s and 12 top-10’s should lock him into the playoffs comfortably.
“I’ve still got my Xfinity goals I need to accomplish and that’s an exciting thing for me,” he added. “It’s so fun in this sport to be a race car driver and to do it in an opportunity like I have now, where I know what’s going on for next year and I know what I have to prepare for, but I have that security of I have a little bit of time to get ready for it and the Xfinity Series is obviously a great proving ground for that, so I have a lot of time to work on it and get better.”
Once this year is done with, though, Burton does plan to set those intended goals ahead of next season. He stated through each winter, he sits down and sees where he is as a driver, what he wants to do better, and where he needs to improve. One of those goals, though, will be to win as he admits expectations will be high, and he’d love to park the No. 21 in victory lane.
Fortunately, Burton did get a taste of what the Cup Series has to offer, courtesy of an opportunity with Gaunt Brothers Racing at Talladega Superspeedway.
“You go from the Xfinity race to the Cup race and there’s a difference and the intensity is higher and the amount of drivers that are just amazing drivers is higher, and you have to find a way to bring yourself up to that level and, for sure, it’s a jump,” he commented. “I don’t really know what the jump is gonna be like. I know it’s gonna be a challenge, but anything that’s worth doing is normally a challenge and that’s what excites me. Those are the things that motivate me, big challenges and how do you overcome them.”
Even knowing the depth of the challenge, Burton says it’s hard to say he’s straight up ready for the Cup Series, not knowing if a driver can ever say that truthfully. However, he was not about to pass up at the opportunity to work with the Wood Brothers Racing, and jump in with the new car debuting.
“I think there’s an opportunity in that,” he explained. “You can look at it the other way and say there’s gonna be a lot of craziness, a lot of change, it’s gonna be tough, but it’s never not gonna be a challenge going from Xfinity to Cup. There’s always gonna be growing periods. There’s always gonna be a spot where you’re trying to learn against guys that are 20-year veterans. That gap of experience will still be there, but this is an opportunity for me to get hands-on, learn how to be a Cup driver, learn how to race at the level these guys race at each weekend and do it with a group of people that understand that.
“They understand that I’m a young driver. They understand that I’m gonna have my good days and my bad days, and they’re gonna help me and give me all the resources in the world I could ever need to be great. When you put those things together and you lay down in bed at night, you try to figure out what the right decision is, that’s a powerful combination is a team like the Wood Brothers and with the help from Penske and Ford Performance to help me become the best driver I can be, that’s all I can ask for.”