Sep 4, 2013, 2:09 PM EST
Jeff Burton announced Wednesday he’ll be leaving the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing in 2014, a year ahead of schedule. Burton cited a lack of full funding and said this would be a “major sacrifice” for Childress to commit to.
“I’d gone to Richard a while ago and said at the end of 2014 I’d step back and not run a full schedule, do partial schedule. We’re just accelerating it a year,” Burton said. “But I know I’m walking away right as we’re about to blossom. I’ll tell you, don’t be surprised if we pop us a win in the next couple weeks. We’re running well. I agreed to step aside and let the team continue to grow. I have no plans yet, and I haven’t spoken to any teams; I don’t know what I’m doing next year.”
Burton, 46, has 21 career NASCAR Sprint Cup victories but none since 2008. He last made the Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2010. He hasn’t missed a race since the spring race at Atlanta in 1996, so has started more than 600 straight races since.
But now, in the twilight of his Cup career, he faces an uncertain future. He acknowledged during a conference call with reporters that he wants to find a competitive situation and doesn’t want to simply ride around.
“I still have a passion for it but this is part of the reality of the sport,” he said. “I don’t anticipate doing anything that won’t be competitive. I have had some people reach out to me, but I haven’t returned any calls.”
Asked whether a Nationwide or Camping World Truck opportunity could be next, Burton didn’t dismiss it.
“As far as Nationwide or Trucks yeah, that’s always a possibility,” he said. “I’ll tell you this right now, I tell myself I’m a Cup driver, but there’s no shame in running Nationwide, Truck, late model. It shouldn’t be about what series you’re in. Racing is a damn blessing. It’s not a privilege. You see guys like Brian Vickers, Elliott Sadler. Regan Smith all run Nationwide. Yeah everyone wants to be in the big show. But I don’t consider myself just a Cup driver. I’d definitely entertain Nationwide/Truck offers. And I’ve had Sunday efforts.”
Burton joins Kevin Harvick in leaving RCR at the end of 2013. It’s a major upheaval for one of NASCAR’s longest-tenured operations, as Harvick (2001) and Burton (full-time since 2005) have been entrenched in the team for years.
“I thought about that the other night,” Burton admitted. “Between Clint (Bowyer), myself and Kevin, what we did didn’t compare to Earnhardt. But collectively, we three working together had a lot of success, all making the Chase and one of us always had a shot at winning the championship. Next year none of us will be there. Most of it is circumstantial. It’s a transformation and it does look different than it did three years ago. Richard’s committed to three, hopefully four cars. He doesn’t want half-rate drivers.”
Burton said NASCAR’s new era of younger drivers needs to begin. That will all but certainly include Austin Dillon in one of Childress’ Cup entries next year, and also will feature Kyle Larson in Chip Ganassi’s No. 42. For now, Burton’s future is undetermined and could include future races in 2014 or potentially, television work.
Feb 26, 2015, 3:00 PM EST
Brazilian driver still believes that Mercedes has the best car in F1 this year.
Feb 26, 2015, 2:00 PM EST
Briton still manages to finish third on Thursday, but is limited to just 48 laps following the power unit issue.
Feb 26, 2015, 1:45 PM EST
F1 rookie happy with the final raft of updates on the STR10 ahead of the first race of the year in Australia.
Feb 26, 2015, 1:00 PM EST
Spanish racer will get a chance to test the E23 Hybrid out on track at least once in 2015.
Feb 26, 2015, 11:00 AM EST
Ferrari reserve driver speaks after completing his first running in the new SF15-T at a filming day in Barcelona.
Feb 26, 2015, 9:00 AM EST
Ex-Red Bull driver believes that Vettel will be rejuvenated following his move to Ferrari for 2015.
Feb 26, 2015, 8:15 AM EST
The VJM08 will finally make its on-track debut with three days to go in winter testing.
Ron Dennis clears up Alonso crash rumors; confirms he was briefly knocked unconscious but was not concussed
Feb 26, 2015, 7:27 AM EST
McLaren CEO meets with the media to quash incorrect reports surrounding Alonso’s accident in testing.
Feb 25, 2015, 5:13 PM EST
Justin Wilson’s offseason plight isn’t only budget-related, but due to a reduced number of available opportunities in IndyCar.
Feb 25, 2015, 2:45 PM EST
Brad Hollinger’s investment in Williams’ ownership moves from 5 to 10 percent.
Feb 25, 2015, 2:21 PM EST
Lineups and running order ahead of this week’s Barcelona test.
Feb 25, 2015, 11:27 AM EST
What Force India couldn’t gain in car evaluation it could gain in 2015 tire and different driver evaluation last week in Barcelona.
Feb 25, 2015, 10:15 AM EST
The Melbourne season opener is a little more than two weeks away.
Feb 25, 2015, 8:52 AM EST
Fernando Alonso is out of the hospital after his testing crash last week.
Feb 25, 2015, 8:30 AM EST
Nick Tandy will embark on a program of LMP1, LMP2 and GT Le Mans in 2015, with KCMG confirmation in WEC.
Feb 25, 2015, 8:22 AM EST
Force India confirms Friday car debut for the new VJM08.
Feb 25, 2015, 8:10 AM EST
Manor seeks to make Melbourne race appearance and confirms its first driver.
- Barcelona F1 2nd Test Paddock Notebook – Thursday 0
- Massa fastest for Williams as final F1 pre-season test begins 5
- Ron Dennis clears up Alonso crash rumors; confirms he was briefly knocked unconscious but was not concussed 3
- McLaren confirms Alonso leaves hospital, and is out for final test 0
- Manor targets Melbourne appearance; announces Will Stevens as first driver 2
- Iconic F1 designer Gerard Ducarouge dies at 73 1
- F1: Barcelona 2015 first test cumulative times, lap counts, analysis 0