After running 14 of the 15 Cup Series races to date on oval tracks, Harrison Burton and the No. 21 DEX Imaging team, along with their peers on NASCAR’s elite series, are setting off on a summer stretch of races that will see them competing at a variety of venues beginning this weekend in northern California.
“Our trip out to Sonoma is the start of a road-course-heavy portion of the schedule,” said Brian Wilson, crew chief of the DEX Imaging Mustang. “Over the next two months we have four races within this discipline.”
Upcoming road-course races include the inaugural street race in Chicago on July 2, the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Aug. 13 and the Go Bowling at the Glen on Aug. 20 at Watkins Glen.
Wilson said he believes Burton and the DEX Imaging team can replicate some of its earlier success on road courses. It was on the road course at Indianapolis last year that Burton scored his career-best Cup finish of third.
“Looking back to our one previous race this season at this style track, we qualified a respectable 16th at Circuit of the Americas,” he said. “Through the early portions of that race we also showed top-15 speed until we had a mechanical issue.”
Wilson said the No. 21 team is working hard this week to prepare for the challenges presented by Sunday’s race at Sonoma.
“All Ford teams are utilizing the simulator this week to warm up for the lefts and rights,” he said. “This race has a new, softer tire from Goodyear as well as a slight change to gear ratios.
“Using the simulator to predict new shift points will be a point of emphasis. This could possibly change which gears you run in each corner.”
The team will get 55 minutes of track time during practice on Saturday afternoon. The session begins at 2:05 p.m. Pacific Standard Time (5:05 p.m. Eastern Time), then qualifying will follow at 3 p.m. Pacific Time (6 p.m. Eastern). FOX Sports 2 will carry the TV coverage.
Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350, a 110-lap, 219-mile affair, is set to get the green flag just after 12:30 p.m. Pacific Time (3:30 Eastern) with TV coverage on FOX.
Stage breaks are planned for Laps 25 and 55.