The No. 21 team will feature multiple new faces during the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. Harrison Burton will replace Matt DiBenedetto in the Wood Brothers Ford while Brian Wilson will make the leap from the Xfinity Series to Cup.
Wood Brothers Racing announced the news on Thursday, November 11. The organization confirmed that Wilson will replace Jonathan Hassler, who will join Ryan Blaney over at Team Penske. The veteran crew chief will partner with Burton as they both kick off their rookie seasons with the Busch Light Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum and then the Daytona 500.
Wilson has achieved considerable success in the Xfinity Series. He served as the crew chief for Austin Cindric and the No. 22 team from 2019-2021, resulting in 13 wins and the 2020 Xfinity Series championship. The team also finished second in the 2021 season behind first-time winner Daniel Hemric.
Wilson Has Worked With Several Top-Shelf Drivers
Prior to the three-year run with Cindric, Wilson worked with a multitude of talented drivers in the Xfinity Series. He joined forces with Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, and Paul Menard in 2018, resulting in six trips to Victory Lane. Blaney won once, Keselowski won three times, and Logano won twice.
Blaney, Keselowski, and Logano all made limited starts in 2016 and 2017 while working with Wilson. They combined to win four races during the two-year stretch. Sam Hornish Jr. also added a top-five finish, a runner-up at Charlotte Motor Speedway on October 7, 2017.
While Wilson has primarily spent his time in the Xfinity Series, he does have a limited amount of experience in Cup. He served as the crew chief for Keselowski for four races in 2017 while replacing Paul Wolfe, resulting in three top-fives. Keselowski finished second at Auto Club Speedway, second at Kansas Speedway, and third at Sonoma Raceway. He also finished seventh at Talladega Superspeedway.
Wilson Will Now Work With a True Cup Series Rookie
While the previous drivers to work with Wilson have all made a multitude of starts in the Cup Series, Burton will have essentially no experience in NASCAR’s top level. He has only made one Cup Series start, which took place with a Toyota team.
Burton made his series debut during the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on April 25. He started 39th in the 40-car field but turned in a strong performance. He raced his way to a 20th-place finish while avoiding crashes that collected other drivers.
Burton has shown that he can win after reaching Victory Lane four times in the 2020 season, but he will face a different type of competition while learning the intricacies of the Next Gen stock car. Making this adjustment to a new series and a new car will not be a simple task, but Burton will attempt to do so while working with someone that has guided top drivers to success in both Cup and Xfinity.
Wilson and Burton will make their respective debuts for Wood Brothers Racing during the exhibition Cup Series race in Los Angeles. They will head to the LA Memorial Coliseum and compete in one of the heat races with the goal of securing a spot in the main event. Practice and qualifying will take place on Saturday, February 5, while the heat races and the Busch Light Clash will take place on Sunday, February 6.