For this weekend’s Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway, Harrison Burton and the DEX Imaging team will throw it back to 1999 with the No. 21 Mustang carrying a paint scheme like the one Jeff Burton, Harrison’s dad, carried on his No. 99 Roush Racing Ford that swept both Cup races at Darlington that year.
Harrison Burton, who wasn’t even born back in ’99, said on a teleconference Wednesday that he got to help choose the paint scheme.
“Obviously, the one where he won in the rain at Darlington – swept that year at Darlington – was an easy answer,” he said. “So, that was a cool moment and something I’m excited to drive.”
Burton said that as he looks forward to this weekend’s Goodyear 400, he knows that like all races on the Lady In Black it’s going to be a challenge.
“It’s going to be a tough race,” he said. “It’s a fairly long race, it’s going to be hot, it’s going to be really slick with the worn-out surface.
“You’re going to have all this tire wear, which creates some interesting scenarios - who puts on the tires when - and the green flag pit-stops are really interesting.
“The biggest thing for me is who’s versatile enough to be able to get off the wall in [Turns] Three and Four.” There are other factors as well.
“You have to be on your game,” he said. “You’re going to be inches off the wall for four hours, probably going to kiss it once or twice, and you’re just going to ride that ragged edge for a long time. So, staying focused and locked-in for four hours at Darlington is really tough when you add the heat to it.
“I think it’s going to be a tough race for a lot of guys. Hopefully that leads to opportunities as well for others. I think it’ll be fun. It’s always one of my favorites, that’s for sure.”
Burton and his crew chief Brian Wilson said the speed of the No. 21 midway through last Sunday’s AdventHealth 400 gives them encouragement heading into Darlington.
“The No. 21 Ford showed some of our most competitive speed this year,” Wilson said. “We were the highest-ranked Ford on pass ratio, and several times posted the fastest lap through the race.
“Seeing that gave everyone on the team a nice boost of confidence.”
Wilson also is heartened by the team’s performance last year at Darlington.
“The races at Darlington were some of our more competitive of the season,” he said. “This week we have a in large stagger change in the tires from Goodyear. We’ll use the notes from last year’s races as well as previous stagger changes to have our Mustang ready to rip when practice starts.”
Like his driver, Wilson is looking forward to Darlington’s annual throwback weekend, which this year will include appearances by two Wood Brothers’ favorites – the 1971 Mercury driven by David Pearson and the 1981 Thunderbird piloted by Neil Bonnett. (The Woods are Ford’s all-time winningest team at Darlington with eight Cup wins in 100 starts.)
“As we head to Darlington, the industry celebrates our history with the throwback weekend,” Wilson said.
“It’s only fitting that the Wood Brothers team has a great scheme this week.”
“The pink-and-black DEX Ford throws back to one of Harrison’s father’s iconic schemes. I’m sure it will look great running the high line at Darlington.”
Practice for the Goodyear 400 is set for Saturday at 10:35 a.m. Eastern Time to be followed by qualifying at 11:20.
Sunday’s 293-lap, 400-mile race is scheduled to start just after 3 p.m. on Sunday.
Stage breaks are planned for Laps 90 and 185. FOX Sports 1 will carry the TV coverage both days.