With a strong surge in the third and final Stage of Sunday’s Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway, Harrison Burton and the No. 21 DEX Imaging team came away with a solid 15th-place finish.
Burton started Sunday’s 400-miler, likely the final Cup Series race on the Fontana track’s two-mile layout, from 24th place after practice and qualifying were cancelled due to adverse weather.
He was running 27th when the Competition Caution flag was displayed at Lap 15 and ended the first 65-lap Stage in 28th place.
Burton and the DEX Imaging team began to pick up speed in the second Stage and ended that 65-lap segment in 20th place.
The sophomore Cup driver and his No. 21 team really stepped up their performance in the closing segment, moving into the top 15 for the first time with 52 of 200 laps left to run.
When the race’s final round of green flag pit stops began with a little over 30 laps left to run, crew chief Brian Wilson elected to wait and be among the later teams to make their stop.
Burton had cycled up to the front by the time Wilson called him to pit road with 27 laps left to run.
With relatively fresher tires on the DEX Imaging Mustang, Burton returned to the track in 19th place and drove up to 15th, taking that spot as the race came to a close.
Eddie Wood said he was proud of the team’s progress throughout the race.
“The speed wasn’t there early on, but by the end of the race, Brian had made some great adjustments on our Mustang, and Harrison really drove it up through there at the end,” Wood said. “That last third of the race was impressive. I’m looking forward to seeing what this team can do going forward.”
Burton and the No. 21 team now turn their focus to next week’s Pennzoil 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which in recent seasons has been one of the Wood Brothers’ better tracks.