Two drivers who were Chase contenders last year who are little more then pretenders this year are Jeff Burton and Mark Martin. Considering they finished 12th and 13th in the final standings last year perhaps more people should have seen disappointment,ent coming.
Combined last year they won 0 races. Combined they notched 13 top-5’s… less then each of the top 3 of Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick did on their own.
Everyone seems to remember that Mark Martin won 5 races in 2009 and that he finished second to Jimmie Johnson in the Championship. However that was also Martin’s first year with Hendrick Motorsports after a 2 year part time run with Ginn Racing and they also forget that prior to that Martin hadn’t won a race since 2005. Maybe 2009 was more of an aberration then anything else.
For Jeff Burton it seems he’s been pretty much running laps since his final years at Roush Racing. In his 10 years since leaving Roush he’s won a total of 4 races and hasn’t posted double digit top-5’s since 2000. For a driver who finished 12.4 or better from 1997 to 2000 he sure looks behind the pack with averages of 18, 15.1 and 20.4 over the last three years.
With his contract at Hendrick up, Martin is now seeming to be thinking of part time possibility for 2012. (Stewart Hass Racing is looking for someone to drive their third car when Danica Patrick is not in it) Burton just resigned with Richard Childress Racing as has his current sponsor Caterpillar so he’ll be running a full schedule for the time being.
Burton simply looks like an also ran on the track. You could even attribute some of his problems to his poor performance on pit road. It seems Burton is constantly tripping himself up on pit road either with speeding penalties, equipment mistakes or poor judgements.
Martin on the other hand looks like he’s lost it at times on the track. I can’t ever remember Mark Martin causing so many accidents over the rest of his career. I don’t know if it’s the nature of pressure or if he’s lost some of his sight or judgement. He seems to be the culprit of most of incidents the #5 has been involved in.
We may never see either driver in victory lane again or maybe one surprises us and shows they did have more gas in the tank then we thought. What do you think?