Harrison Burton leads Ford brigade to top of speed chart in final practice

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 15: Harrison Burton, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/DEX Imaging Ford, walks the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Cup Series 64th Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 15, 2022 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The Wood Brothers crew apparently did an admirable job repairing the No. 21 Ford Mustang driven by Harrison Burton.

The car was damaged on the final lap of Thursday night’s Bluegreen Vacations Duel 150-mile qualifying race, when Joey Logano’s No. 22 Team Penske Ford spun in front of Burton’s Mustang. The No. 21 nosed into Logano’s car, but the team opted to repair the car, rather than go to a backup.

Shaking down his car in Saturday’s final practice, Burton led a contingent of Ford drivers to the top eight positions on the speed chart. Burton negotiated 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway in 47.782 seconds (188.355 mph), edging Logano (who was in a backup car) by .008 seconds.

Only 20 of the 40 drivers who will start the Sunday’s Daytona 500 participated in the session. The entire cadre of Toyotas skipped the session, as did Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing Ford drivers Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher, who won their respective Duels on Thursday.

Many of the Fords were in those who went out in final practice. The Blue Oval brigade seem to have had a speed advantage all week long. That’s a trend Ford drivers hope continues on Sunday.

“I hope so,” defending Daytona 500 champion and Ford driver Michael McDowell said. “It’s hard to tell in practice. I think that, for sure, the Fords have had good speed. We saw that in the Duels. We have good numbers. We have good numbers of quality cars, quality teams, and quality drivers. We’re very organized. I think Ford has done a great job with the mentality of One Ford and the organization that’s gone behind that has been great, but tomorrow when you have 40 cars and you have everybody out there it changes the overall feel and dynamic of the race, so we’re still gonna work with our manufacturer. We’re still gonna work with those guys, try to execute as best as possible, but it’s hard to sit here and tell you, ‘Yeah, I think we’ve got a clear advantage,’ because I don’t see it that way. I just see us being a little bit more organized in the races and in practice so far.”