With Mark Martin cleared to drive for Stewart Haas Racing in 12 of this year’s final 13 races, Michael Waltrip Racing announced today that Brian Vickers will drive the team’s No. 55 Toyota in all but one of the remaining events.
originally scheduled to drive three of the remaining races in 2013. The
announcement increases that schedule to 12. Michael Waltrip, MWR founder and
co-owner, will race the No. 55 at Talladega on Oct. 20 as originally scheduled.
The move gives the 29-year-old Vickers an early start to his full-time role in
the No. 55. Last week Aaron’s and MWR announced Vickers will drive the Aaron’s
Dream Machine full-time beginning in 2014.
Waltrip said Martin achieved all of the goals both he and the team set when he
began a 24-race schedule in the No. 55 in 2012.
“With Mark, we accomplished everything we hoped to when he came to this
organization, which was bringing that winning confidence to the team, the
experience to help elevate our program and ultimately find the full-time driver
for the future who can race for a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship,” said
Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 champion.
“Mark’s leadership the past two years has been so impactful that he has left a
mark on this company that will be here as long as we race. This opportunity to
help two Hall of Famers in Mark and Tony Stewart at the same time, while
getting the opportunity to run the rest of the year with Brian makes sense for
MWR. But nothing could happen without the support of Aaron’s, Toyota and the
other MWR sponsors. Each of them saw the same benefits in such a move and
helped make it happen. This is a truly win, win, win situation.”
In 2012 and 2013 with MWR, Martin earned five top-five finishes and five pole
awards in 39 races. His work with teammates Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr.
also played a role in MWR putting both drivers in NASCAR’s 2012 Chase for the
Sprint Cup as well as making both favorites to earn 2013 berths.
“I’m proud of the work we’ve done the last two seasons and I’m extremely
thankful for the effort everyone on my team and at MWR put behind me,” said the
54-year-old Martin whose 870 Sprint Cup starts is the fifth most in NASCAR
history. “I also want to thank Michael Waltrip and (co-owner) Rob Kauffman for
giving me this opportunity. They are building a strong organization at MWR and
one that’s going to be a force in NASCAR for years to come both on and off the
Aaron’s thanked Martin for his work behind the wheel and with its customers and
employees in the last two seasons. Aaron’s featured Waltrip and Martin in
several national television commercials.
"Aaron's is supportive of the arrangement with Mark Martin agreeing to
drive for Stewart-Haas Racing," said Ronald W. Allen, Aaron's Chairman,
President and Chief Executive Officer. "We're energized about Vickers'
availability to drive the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine for the remainder of the
season. MWR talked about how this move would better position our team for 2014
while helping Stewart-Haas Racing so we believe this is the best of all
possible outcomes for everyone. We appreciate everything Mark Martin has done
for Aaron's over the last two years and wish him the best of luck in the
Vickers joined MWR in 2012 with plans to run a five-race schedule. That
schedule increased as the performance improved and the Thomasville, N.C. native
grew more comfortable with the organization. He won the July race at New
Hampshire Motor Speedway and posted four top-five finishes in 14 races with
“No one wants to see Tony out of the 14, but I am appreciative of the
opportunity to get more seat time in the 55 as a result,” said Vickers who is
also seeking a second Nationwide championship in 2013.
“I didn’t think things could get any better than last week’s announcement with
Aaron's, but having a chance to run the rest of the 2013 season creates a
tremendous opportunity for our team and we're excited that all of this came
together the way it did. Mark gets to help out Tony and we get to start our
program early in the No. 55. We’ve proven we can win races in a part time
capacity so far in 2013 and I'm confident that spending more time working with
the 55 crew will only to help improve our already strong performance to date,
giving us the momentum needed to start the 2014 season off strong in Daytona.”
Vickers will race the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Saturday night in Bristol.