Editor's note: Yahoo! Sports is counting down the top 20 drivers of the 2011 season. The order was determined by a survey, which asked five NASCAR journalists – Jay Busbee and Jay Hart (Yahoo! Sports), Jenna Fryer (Associated Press), Dustin Long (Landmark Newspapers) and Nate Ryan (USA Today) – to predict the final standings for the 2011 season. The countdown will conclude on Feb. 11 with the unveiling of the No. 1 driver.
No. 14 (tie): Jeff Burton | Career stats
No. 13: Revealed Jan. 26
2010 finish: 12th
Our 2011 predictions:
• Jay Busbee: 13th
• Jay Hart: 12th
• Jenna Fryer: 16th
• Dustin Long: 16th
• Nate Ryan: 17th
2011 outlook: Midway through the 2010 season, Jeff Burton was thinking championship. Though he wasn't winning races, he was posting top 10 after top 10. From May 1 to Aug. 8 – a stretch of 12 races – Burton logged 10 top 10 finishes.
Then the wheels fell off. Over the season's final 14 races, Burton finished outside the top 15 nine times, which resulted in him winding up dead last in the Chase and not even getting an invite to the Champion's banquet in December.
As a consequence, expectations for Burton heading into 2011 are tempered at best. But is that fair?
Over the course of his career, Burton has proven that while he won't win more than one or two races in a season, he can put himself in the mix with a steady dose of consistency. And with the resurgence of Richard Childress Racing, Burton should be well equipped to repeat what he did in the first seven months of the 2010 season. The question is, can he finish what he starts?
What you need to know: Burton is mired in a 77-race winless streak. His last trip to victory lane came on Oct. 8, 2008, at Charlotte Motor Speedway.