Vickers to drive thereafter
Not so fast, says Michael Waltrip Racing. A day after Joe Gibbs Racing announced that Mark Martin would replace Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry "while Hamlin recovers from an L1 compression fracture," MWR issued a release saying that Martin would return to Waltrip's No. 55 Toyota after subbing for Hamlin in the Apr. 7 race at Martinsville.
Instead, Brian Vickers, who has a nine-race deal with MWR in the No. 55, will fill in for Hamlin starting Apr. 13 at Texas.
"Martin will return to the No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota Camry at Texas Motor Speedway on April 13 and resume his previously scheduled run of events with MWR for the remainder of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint cup season," the MWR release said.
In what has been the plan since the start of the season, Vickers will drive the No. 55 Aaron's Dream Machine in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville, where Martin was not scheduled to compete before Hamlin sustained the fracture in a last-lap crash at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
JGR indicated Friday night that Vickers would drive the No. 11 at Texas and in subsequent races until Hamlin is cleared to drive. Though he has a part-time Sprint Cup deal with MWR, Vickers is competing for the Nationwide Series championship in JGR's No. 20 Toyota.
"Obviously, having to find someone to fill in for Denny is not an ideal situation to have to be in and when you start a process like this you obviously begin to look at the drivers that are not only available but also able to drive for your race team and manufacturer," team president J.D. Gibbs said. "We were a bit premature in determining Mark's status past Martinsville, however.
"We're real happy to have the opportunity to get Brian in our Cup cars, and with him driving Nationwide for us, we think we have some continuity there that is beneficial. We really appreciate everyone at Michael Waltrip Racing and Toyota for working with us through this process. The good thing for us is that we have drivers the caliber of Mark and Brian to help fill in until Denny comes back."
Both the No. 11 and No. 55 cars are fighting for a place in the owners' Chase for the Sprint Cup and could qualify for the owners' championship despite using multiple drivers. The No. 11 Camry currently is 11th in the owners' standings, while No. 55 is 14th.