January 30th, 2015
In what had to have been a very tough decision for all parties involved, Jeff Burton and Richard Childress Racing will go their separate ways after the conclusion of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series they announced Wednesday afternoon.
The move was rumored to be happening earlier in the week was made official by a statement by RCR and a teleconference by Burton with media members. Instead of the rumor of Burton moving to a different team, nothing has been decided on his future.
Burton was looking to scale back his schedule starting in 2015, so the idea was to run 2014 as a final go with the team. The problem is funding has developed to put four RCR Chevrolets on track and Burton felt it best to walk away now and not hinder what RCR is doing for the future.
“The harsh realities are we’ve gone into next year, Caterpillar has been a huge supporter of mine and RCR’s in the past and also next year, but there was a lot of funding that wasn’t in place. I had gone to Richard a while ago and told him that at the end of 2014 that I was going to step back and probably not run full schedule anymore and look at maybe running some partial schedules or look at other opportunities. So we’re just accelerating it a year early to give the team a chance to…give Richard Childress Racing an opportunity to continue to move that team forward, which I think is an exceptionally strong team, to put the funding in place with a really good driver that can go out and be successful. You know, just the timing was right for me to do something different,” explained Burton during the conference call.
Sponsorship has been a bit piecemealed for the #31 team all year long, with main funding from Caterpillar. A few races have gone unsponsored and with unknowns surrounding this team and the #29 team, rumors will continue to swirl around the RCR camp.
Most have Austin Dillon going to the #29 seat, but the team rebranding it with the iconic #3. For the #31 seat, most have Ryan Newman going to the ride. Newman has a strong relationship with current sponsor Quicken Loans, so one can surmise that he would bring that along in conjunction with Caterpillar, who will remain with the team.
The big question from this is what happens to Jeff Burton in 2014 and beyond? As of now he has nothing lined up, but television was something that kept getting brought up. NBC Sports Network takes over NASCAR coverage in 2015 and will need people to fill out their roster.
“As far as TV, yeah, I’m interested in it. It’s one of the options that everybody around me, you know, the times I’ve done it, everybody around me seems to think I’ve done a good job. I don’t know if I do or not, but I enjoy it. It’s fun to do. It’s a way that I can stay involved in the sport and hopefully contribute to the sport,” commented Burton.
Hopefully Burton can find something that keeps in around NASCAR because he’s been a great voice and leader in the garage. It sounded like he still wants to win a championship and is not above going down to the Nationwide or Camping World Truck Series. Maybe Childress can reward Burton with a ride down there and a chance at a title.