Jeff Burton, Richard Childress Racing

by KFFL Staff on January 19, 2011 @ 17:50:00 PDT

 


Jeff Burton | No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet | Richard Childress Racing

Jeff Burton

Burton returned to the Chase in 2010 after missing out in 2009, but his playoffs were forgettable to say the least. A miserable final 10 races capped a season full of missed opportunities. Burton has to correct the mistakes in 2011 if he wants to contend, but at this stage in his career, he may be on the decline.

Burton finished last season with a 15.1 average finish, but that average slid to 27.2 during the Chase. He failed to win a race and managed just six top-five finishes all season, although speeding penalties, poor pit strategy and plain bad luck robbed him of him several strong runs. A strong argument could be made that no driver struggled more in crunch time than Burton last season.

A look at his numbers the last five seasons reveals a more concerning trend. From 2006 to 2008, Burton averaged 19 top-10s, eight top-five finishes and a seventh-place finish in the standings. The last two years, he has averaged 12.5 top-10s, 5.5 top-five finishes and a 15th-place finish in the standings. His average finish of 13.5 in the first three years has slipped to 16.6 the last two seasons.

He may be on the decline, but that's not to say Burton doesn't have fantasy value. He is still a safe, solid option more often than not. That being said, his days as an elite option are probably behind him. He is still more than capable of being a No. 2 option for teams in Draft and Play leagues, but owners are overpaying if they take him in the first round.

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