Jeff Burton joins Michael Waltrip Racing
December 02, 2013, Staff report, NASCAR.com
Officials declined to specify the number of points races in which Burton will compete next season, but did say his first start would come March 9 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
MWR will field two full-time teams in Cup next season -- the No. 15 of Clint Bowyer and the No. 55 of Brian Vickers. The third team, which will carry the car number 66, will run a partial schedule with team co-owner Michael Waltrip slated to make the start in the season-opening Daytona 500 in February.
"I've heard all good things from the drivers who raced at MWR over the last couple of years and I certainly have seen how fast their cars have been," said Burton, a winner of 21 Cup races. "These are great people who have dedicated themselves to become winners at the highest level. Michael and Rob (Kauffman) are so committed to success and I wanted to be a part of that."
Burton announced earlier this year that he would not return to Richard Childress Racing where he had spent the past nine years driving that team's No. 31 Chevrolet. His last Cup win came in 2008 at Charlotte.
Kauffman said Burton and the third team would play a key role in helping the two full-time teams contend for the 2014 championship.
"We were extremely fortunate to have a driver as experienced and respected as Jeff Burton come available," Kauffman said. "He will be able to have an immediate impact as we continue to strive for that last one percent that separates champions from contenders."
Vickers, who won once in 17 starts this past season for the group, has been on medical leave due to a blood clot in his right calf and is unable to participate in on-track testing. He is expected to be back in time for the start of the racing season.
MWR fielded three full-time teams this past year, but lost sponsor NAPA in the wake of a race-fixing scandal following the finish of the Chase cutoff race at Richmond International Raceway in September.
With his sponsor leaving, driver Martin Truex Jr. also departed at season's end. He will compete for Furniture Row Racing in 2014.