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How Does Burton At RCR Compare To Burton At RFR?

[1]Earlier this week, Jeff Burton signed a contract extension [2] to remain in Richard Childress Racing’s No. 31 Sprint Cup Chevrolet. In the wake of the deal, we decided to compare Burton’s Roush Fenway Racing career to his RCR career.

Burton’s RFR career spanned 293 points-paying races over nine years. His RCR career consists of 238 points-paying races over eight years, up to and including last weekend’s Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.

At RFR, Burton won 17 races, compared to four wins so far in his RCR career. That means that while at Roush, Burton won one race out of every 20; at RCR, he won one out of every 58 races.  He also posted 87 top 5s and 142 top 10s at RFR, compared to 38 top 5s and 89 top 10s at RCR, which means that while at Roush, he finished in the top 10 nearly half of the time. At RCR he finishes in the top 10 about 40% of the time. Thus, his RFR average finish (14.5) is higher than his RCR average finish (15.7).

There are, however, two areas where he has been better at RCR than he was at Roush. At Childress, he has doubled his numbers of poles. He has four poles with RCR, compared to two poles at Roush. He also cut his numbers of DNFs in half at Childress, compared to Roush. At RFR, he had 26 DNFs, while at RCR he has 13.

In order to match his RFR performance, Burton would have to win 13 of the next 55 races, or about 24% of races over that span – that’s about one out of every four races. To put this task into perspective, Dale Earnhardt won roughly one out of every nine Sprint Cup races he entered. Jeff Gordon won about one out of every seven. Jimmie Johnson, Junior Johnson, and even Richard Petty averaged one victory for every six races they ran. Again, Burton would need to win one out of every four.

To match his top-5 total at RFR, Burton would need to post top 5s in 49 of the next 55 races, or 90% of races. To match his top-10 total, he would need to post top 10s in a whopping 53 of the next 55 races, or 96%. That’s highly unlikely.

The difference in performance can be attributed to several factors. The cars, rules, and racing are much different now than they were back when Burton was at Roush. Burton has a different crew and crew chief at RCR, so that could explain some of the difference. And, age is probably a factor.

It’s hard to say definitively that Burton was better at Roush than he is at Childress because there are a lot of variables that have changed over time, but if you just look at the statistics, Burton was better at Roush.

Roush Racing
Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles DNFs Avg Fin Races
17 87 142 2 26 14.5 293
5.8% 29.7% 48.5% 0.7% 8.9%    


Richard Childress Racing
Wins Top 5s Top 10s Poles DNFs Avg Fin Races
4 38 89 4 13 15.7 238
1.7% 16.0% 37.4% 1.7% 5.5%