Jeff Burton had revealed his plans for the future, after having decided to exit his full-time race seat with Richard Childress Racing at the end of this season.
Burton had told team owner Richard Childress that he was looking to scale back to a part-time presence in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and came to a mutual decision to end his time at RCR earlier than expected in order to make way for Ryan Newman to join the team. At the time of that decision Burton said that he had no idea what he would end up doing next year, but this week he was able to announce that we would be moving to Michael Waltrip Racing for 2014 as a part-time and test driver.
"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 veteran of 691 starts at NASCAR's top level.
"We were extremely fortunate to have a driver as experienced and respected as Jeff Burton come available," said Rob Kauffman, who along with Michael Waltrip is a co-owner of the team. "He will be able to have an immediate impact as we continue to strive for that last one percent that separates champions from contenders."
It isn't immediately known which races Burton would compete in the #66 Toyota or even how many, although he later said that he hoped it would be between six and 14 races and that the first would be at Las Vegas, the second race of the season after Daytona.
Burton's bigger role is to apply his considerable experience as a test driver for the team to help the team's full time line-up of Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers, in a similar way that Mark Martin had been an 'elder statesman' assisting the team for the last two seasons. In particular, Burton will be handling the pre-season testing on behalf of the #55 while Vickers recuperates from issues with blood clots that sidelined him at the end of the 2013 season.
"That really gets me back to what I'm good at," said Burton. "I think my strengths are in trying to help a team move forward and trying to do more than just be a driver. Being able to go do a lot of testing, being involved real heavily in the test team and trying to help the move the teams forward in just speed issues, those are things, historically, when I've been able to focus on those I've had good success."
"Michael Waltrip Racing has two teams and drivers racing for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship in 2014 and our third team will play a very important role in that pursuit," added Kauffman.
Burton's deal with MWR is for one year only, with the driver announcing on Tuesday that he would then be moving into a full-time media pundit role with NBC. The network is taking over the broadcasting rights for the final 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, as well as the final 19 NASCAR Nationwide Series events and select NASCAR Regional and Touring Series events in 2015. Burton is the first big-name signing to be announced as part of the on-air team NBC is putting together, with both parties describing it as a "long term" deal.