Harrison Burton, driver of the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Cup Series, knows that if he wins Saturday night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway, he will qualify for the playoffs. Burton, who is taking part in a two-day test at Martinsville Speedway for Wood Brothers Racing, spoke about his situation earlier today.
HARRISON BURTON, No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang – HOW HAS YOUR MARTINSVILLE TEST GONE SO FAR? “I think it’s been going really well. We’ve had good pace and been able to kind of tune ourselves in and out of the top group of cars and feel like we have a good direction for coming back here and what we’re gonna need to go fast. We’re trying to manage the temperature difference and the rubber difference. It’s laying a lot of rubber down compared to what we thought it would coming here, so that’s different and the temp is gonna be different. How you apply that to the real race is gonna be the biggest challenge.”
BUT IT MUST BE NICE TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO TEST FOR A CHANGE? “Oh, for sure. I think yesterday we turned 100 laps more than anyone else. We made 370 or 380 laps and just did a lot of long runs. I learned a lot about the race car and what direction it falls off when you have a certain balance and what small changes we can do to make it fire off even better. That’s the biggest thing, I think, is we’ve been good on the long run for the whole test, but our short run speed is where we need to be faster. I’ve been getting that more and more recently, so it’s good to see changes that are putting us in the right direction.”
THE TASK THIS WEEKEND IS SIMPLE – WIN AND YOU’RE IN – RIGHT? “Yeah. That’s the only goal when we go there now. At this point, it doesn’t really help us to have a decent points day, so it’s win or go home.”
AFTER ENDING ON YOUR ROOF THE LAST TIME, DO YOU FEEL DAYTONA OWES YOU ONE THIS WEEKEND? “I don’t know if it ever owes you one. Daytona is a place that takes more than it gives, for sure. There have been a lot of people that have tried for decades to win there and have never done it or eventually do it. Obviously, having speed and being up front there at the beginning of the year was cool. Flipping isn’t cool, but we’ve got to be aggressive to go try and get up front. At the end of the day, it’s not a deterrent. We were up front and something happened, so, if anything, I think it’s encouraging for us that we can be up front.”
WE SEE OEM’S STICK TOGETHER IN THIS RACE, SO DOES THE STRATEGY OF PITTING AND RUNNING WITH TEAMMATES ALL DAY HELP YOU WIN A RACE LIKE THIS? “Yeah, it does help you, especially if the Fords are as fast as they were in February. In our Duel, our group of Fords linked up and created a gap to where there was literally only a chance that a Ford could win the race at the end of the second Duel. We ended up finishing second or third and that was after we crashed, but we had a big gap on everybody and hopefully we can go back and do that again.”
Campbell Marketing & Communications for Ford Performance