Race strategy was the name of the game for Harrison Burton and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team in Sunday’s Kwik Trip 250 at Road America.
On three separate occasions, crew chief Brian Wilson elected to stay on the track longer than many of his competitors. His strategy worked twice and had great potential a third time had there been any caution periods in the final 32-lap segment of the race.
As it was, Burton finished 22nd and earned nine Stage points, giving him 24 points for the day.
The Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang took the green flag from 23rd place. In the first 15-lap Stage on the high-speed, 4.048-mile road course, Wilson left Burton on the track as many others made pit stops prior to the end of the Stage. Burton moved up to sixth place at Stage end, earning five Stage points.
His stop during the ensuing caution flag dropped him to 27th for the start of the second Stage. Wilson employed the same strategy again, and Burton moved up to seventh place at the end of that segment, earning four more Stage points.
In the final segment of the race, the team elected to run long again. Burton cycled into the race lead for one lap and had dropped to fourth place before making his final stop under the green flag with 13 laps remaining.
He rejoined the race in 27th place and began working his way forward. The team’s thinking at that point was that if the yellow flag did fly before the checkered flag, numerous drivers ahead of Burton would make pit stops, cycling him forward once again.
Had that happened, Burton would have stayed on the track for the remainder of the race, as his tires were relatively fresh at that point.
But as fate would have it, the race was completed with no caution flags for incidents on the track.
Still he gained five spots to finish 22nd.
Burton and the No. 21 team will return to the track next Sunday at Atlanta Motor Speedway with Freightliner as the primary sponsor.