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From the Marbles

2012 season in the rear view: Jeff Burton

Nick Bromberg
From The Marbles

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(Getty)

Vitals: 19th in the standings. 0 wins, 2 top 5s, 6 top 10s. 2 DNFs.

Moment to remember: Anything that happened at Daytona. In February, Jeff Burton led 24 laps and finished fifth. In July, Burton avoided the final lap melee and finished second to Tony Stewart. So if you're counting at home, that's two top fives. And Burton had two top fives all season.

Moment to forget: Burton was in the top 10 for a grand total of one week. He fell out at Phoenix after leading seven laps because of an engine failure. He finished 33rd and fell to 12th in the standings. Adios, top 10. Burton hardly knew ye.

The wrap: 2010 seems like a long time ago for Burton. Since making the Chase (and finishing 12th) that season, he's finished in the top 5 just four times and in the top 10 11 times. And he hasn't been to victory lane since 2008.

Since Burton last made the Chase, Kevin Harvick has been the only Richard Childress Racing driver to make NASCAR's playoffs. Both years, Burton has been the lowest ranking Childress driver, and it's been hard not to wonder at times if he's merely keeping a seat warm at RCR for one of the Dillons. He'll be working with Luke Lambert again in 2013. Lambert was Burton's crew chief for the final 17 races of 2011. Will their partnership equal a career rebirth for the Mayor?

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