Jeff Burton’s Luck with Sponsor CATerpillar
By Benji Butler
Whether you’ve been watching NASCAR for a long time or just started watching this year, chances are you know about Jeff Burton. Jeff Burton has managed to rack up 21 wins, 105 top-5’s, 242 top-10’s, in his illustrious career. Burton, who started his career in 1993, has become one of the most iconic drivers in the NASCAR world. He is also known for his unofficial title, the “Mayor of the Garage Area.”
Since Caterpillar replaced AT&T as his sponsor in 2009, Jeff has yet to revisit victory lane. His last win took place at the 2008 Bank of America 500 when he ran the orange AT&T paint scheme. My question is: could Caterpillar be an omen? For you superstitious people, is CAT’s presence on his car holding him back?
Let’s start from the beginning of 2009. Jeff Burton, off a three year streak of making the Chase, had a disappointing season. Despite back-to-back 2nd place finishes at Phoenix and Homestead to finish the year, Burton was on a bit of an off-year, missing the Chase and finishing 17th in points.
Jeff Burton’s 2010 season saw a Chase berth but an exclusion from saying a speech in Las Vegas at season’s end. Burton would also not end the winless streak, scoring a best finish of 2nd in both Dover races.
Burton, who started off the year strong with a win in the Gatorade Duels, had a bad start to the year in the season’s first two points races. Burton would not have a single finish inside the top-10 until Watkins Glen in August. Although the stats don’t show it, Burton ran up front many times this past year but had strings of mishaps that would limit his finishing positions and limit his points ranking to 20th.
NASCAR’s 2012 season is now on the horizon. Jeff Burton has inherited departing Clint Bowyer’s General Mills colors for part of the season and is looking to rebound from his worst points finish since 1995. To be honest however, I believe that it’s going to be time to hang up the helmet soon. I say retire with legendary status. If I were him, I wouldn’t want to stay much longer and risk “over-staying” my welcome and having to move to a lower series to feel competitive again. Jeff, it may be time to seriously consider it. You will always be a legend to the true fans of the sport.
All opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.