Cornelius, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Jeff Burton has joined Michael Waltrip Racing to test and drive the No. 66 Toyota in a select number of races during the 2014 Sprint Cup Series season, the team announced on Monday.
Burton will begin testing for MWR on Dec. 9 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. His first scheduled race for next season is March 9 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. MWR said other races added to Burton's schedule will be announced in the upcoming weeks. Michael Waltrip will drive the No. 66 in the Feb. 23 Daytona 500.
MWR had three full-time teams in NASCAR's top series this past season, but the organization is downsizing to two full-time teams and one part-time next year. MWR lost its sponsorship from NAPA in wake of the organization's attempt to manipulate the outcome of the Sept. 7 race at Richmond International Raceway and get Martin Truex Jr. in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Clint Bowyer will continue to drive the No. 15 Toyota for MWR next season. Brian Vickers will be behind the wheel of the No. 55 Toyota. Burton is testing for Vickers until late January when he returns from his medical leave. Vickers missed the last five weeks of the season due to treatment for a blood clot in his right calf.
"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," MWR co-owner Rob Kauffman said in a team statement. "We were extremely fortunate to have a driver as experienced and respected as Jeff Burton come available. He will be able to have an immediate impact as we continue to strive for that last one percent that separates champions from contenders."
Burton has 21 wins in his Cup Series career. He drove the No. 31 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing from the middle of the 2004 season until the end of the 2013 season. Ryan Newman is replacing Burton in that car next year.
"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 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."