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Burton makes move to Michael Waltrip Racing

South Boston native Jeff Burton has been hired by Michael Waltrip Racing as a test driver for 2014, with the possibility of running a partial schedule in the Sprint Cup Series.

Michael Waltrip Racing will field the No. 66 Toyota for Burton in the March 9 race at Las Vegas Speedway. Team officials said more races could possibly be scheduled for Burton at a later date.

Burton, a 21-time winner in the Sprint Cup Series, begins testing for MWR Monday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, subbing for MWR driver Brian Vickers, who is on medical leave to receive treatment for blood clots in one of his legs. Burton will continue to test for Vickers until late January when Vickers is slated to return from medical leave.

Team Co-Owner Rob Kauffman said Burton will help MWR both on and off the track. 

“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,” said Kauffman.

“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 said he relishes his new role at MWR.

“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 the South Boston native who has made 691 starts.

“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.”

MWR will field the No. 15 5-hour ENERGY Toyota Camry with driver Clint Bowyer and the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota Camry with driver Brian Vickers in 2014.

Michael Waltrip will drive the No. 66 in the Daytona 500 on Feb. 23 as he seeks his third victory in the sport’s most prestigious event.

MWR reduced itself to fielding two full-time teams in 2014 after sponsor NAPA Auto Parts said it was leaving the team in the wake of the race-manipulation scandal that occurred during the Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway in September.

Burton, 46 announced prior to the start of The Chase For the Sprint Cup that he would not return to Richard Childress Racing in 2014. The South Boston native spent nine years driving RCR’s No. 31 Chevrolet. His last Cup win came in 2008 at Charlotte.