NASCAR veteran Jeff Burton is out next season as a driver for Richard Childress Racing, the team announced Wednesday.
No replacement was named for the 46-year-old driver who is 22nd in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings this season. The No. 31 car will retain Caterpillar's primary sponsorship next year.
A possible replacement could be Ryan Newman, who will not return to Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2014 season. The three-car Childress team's other drivers next year are expected to be Paul Menard and Austin Dillon, who likely will be promoted from the Nationwide Series.
"We have been working hard to try and get all the funding in place to have four Sprint Cup teams in 2014," Childress said. "With the date on the calendar getting closer to 2014, we just couldn't run partially funded teams next year.
"Knowing what Jeff's plans were in 2015, he and I worked out an agreement for him to step out of the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet after this season. Jeff has been nothing but a professional driver, an asset to RCR and a great person for our organization since coming on board (full time) in 2005."
The last of Burton's 21 career Cup wins came in 2008. The last time he made the season-ending Chase for the championship was in 2010.
"I strongly believe in the No. 31 team as to what we can achieve this year, and for the team in seasons to follow," Burton said. "However, the financial realities for next year were obvious to both Richard and me. So we talked about it and both made the decision to make this move for the team's future."