Thursday, Mar 23

DEX Imaging Team Head West for Pala Casino 400

Harrison Burton and the No. 21 DEX Imaging team are headed to one of the driver’s favorite tracks, Auto Club Speedway, hoping to show more of the speed they showed in the Cup Series opener at Daytona International Speedway, where Burton led nine laps late in the Daytona 500 before being collected in a crash. At Daytona he also picked up two Stage points for a ninth-place finish in his Duel qualifying race.

Burton’s love for the worn, bumpy two-mile oval in Fontana can be traced back to 2020 when he led the Xfinity Series race on three occasions for 40 laps including the final 20 to get his first career victory in NASCAR’s No. 2 Series.

The Fontana track hasn’t been one of the better venues for the Wood Brothers team, with just two top-10 finishes in 24 starts, but the team’s overall success at tracks in that area of Southern California is much more impressive.
 
At the defunct Ontario Motor Speedway, which was about a 30-minute drive from the current track, the Woods won three races, four poles and had seven top-five finishes in the nine Cup races run at that 2.5-mile track.
 
At the road course at Riverside, which is a similar distance from Fontana and also lost to time, the Woods scored seven wins, eight poles and 24 top-five finishes in 43 starts.
  
Crew chief Brian Wilson believes the No. 21 DEX Imaging team is poised to recapture some of that old Wood Brothers magic.
 
“The result in Daytona wasn’t what we were looking for, but everyone on the No. 21 Ford team is proud of the qualifying effort and the fact that we were leading the Daytona 500 with less than 20 laps left,” Wilson said. “I believe that shows the strength of our team.”
  
Wilson also said results last fall at the intermediate-length tracks give him more reasons to be optimistic.
 
“Heading to Fontana we will look to build on the speed our team had at the end of the year at tracks like Texas, Las Vegas and Homestead,” he said. “The tire combination that Goodyear will utilize was also used late in 2022 at Kansas in addition to Texas and Las Vegas.
 
“In reviewing last year’s race at Fontana, we raced inside the top 20 for a majority of the race before being collected in a late race wreck. While reviewing we always look at our previous setup and it’s amazing how much we’ve learned since that early race last season.
 
“Everyone on the DEX Mustang team is excited and optimistic to see how we perform for the start of the West Coast swing.”
 
Practice for the Pala Casino 400 is set for Saturday at 11:05 a.m. Pacific Time (2:05 p.m. Eastern) to be followed immediately by qualifying.
 
Sunday’s 200-lap race is set to get the green flag just after 12:30 p.m. (3:30 Eastern), with Stage breaks planned for Laps 65 and 130.
 
FOX Sports 1 will carry the TV coverage for practice and qualifying, with FOX taking over for Sunday’s race.

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