Ever since announcing his departure from Richard Childress Racing, Jeff Burton has maintained he would continue to drive in NASCAR's top division in some capacity. For which team, however, he would not disclose.
On Monday, Burton revealed his future plans. He is joining Michael Waltrip Racing where he will be the organization's test driver along with making select starts in the rebranded No. 66 entry (previously the No. 56 car driven by Martin Truex Jr.).
Burton's first race for the team will come in March at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with the rest of his schedule still to be announced. MWR co-owner Michael Waltrip will drive the No. 66 Toyota in the season-opening Daytona 500. No sponsorship details have yet been announced.
The 46-year-old will fill a variety of roles at MWR including driver, mentor and coach, akin to the position Mark Martin served before he left the team last August.
"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," Burton said.
"These are great people who have dedicated themselves to become winners at the highest level. Michael and Rob (Kauffman, MWR co-owner) are so committed to success and I wanted to be a part of that. I'm excited to do something new and will work hard to help the other two teams compete for wins and a championship."
Burton has long said he plans on cutting back his driving duties considerably -- if not retire outright -- after the 2014 season, and has had discussions with NBC about being an analyst when the network takes over coverage of the Sprint Cup Series from TNT and ABC/ESPN in 2015.
In the immediate Burton, who has 21 victories in 291 Cup starts, will focus his attention on helping MWR rebound from what has been a tumultuous few months.
MWR was implicated in a September cheating controversy that resulted in NASCAR fining the team a record $300,000 and removing Truex from the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Shortly thereafter, NAPA announced it was withdrawing its sponsorship -- an estimated $16 million -- and consequently, MWR was forced to downsize to downsize from three full-time cars to two.
With no sponsorship in place, Truex left MWR and signed with Furniture Row Racing in November. Clint Bowyer and Brian Vickers will continue as MWR's full-time drivers in 2014.