CORNELIUS, N.C. – Mark Martin, Brian Vickers and Michael Waltrip will continue to share the driving duties in Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 55 Toyota in 2013.
MWR announced Friday that Martin will drive in 24 NASCAR Sprint Cup points races, plus the Budweiser Shootout in Daytona and the All-Star race in Charlotte.
Waltrip’s three races include the July Daytona race plus both Talladega races. Vickers’ nine races include all the Bristol, Martinsville, New Hampshire and road course events, as well as the Kentucky Speedway race.
“I love my schedule and I love our lineup,” said 40-time winner Martin whose four poles in 2012 equal the most of any driver. “Brian has a tremendous amount of experience and talent for such a young driver and you saw at Talladega that Michael Waltrip is as good as anyone in a restrictor plate race.”
Vickers said the No. 55 comes with many assets.
“I can’t tell you how cool it is to come to the track knowing that you are getting in a car that can win the race. That’s a luxury not all drivers have,” said the 28-year-old Vickers. “MWR gave me fantastic equipment and I think the results in 2012 speak for themselves. Plus, having Mark Martin and Michael Waltrip there to answer any question or offer help is priceless.”
Waltrip credits Martin and Vickers in helping MWR teammates Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer earn the team’s first two Chase for the Sprint Cup berths. Bowyer has won three times in 2012.
“We made a lot of changes before the season started in 2012 and one of the smartest ones we made was bringing Mark Martin on board. In our meetings at the shop when he starts to speak everyone gets real quiet. He’s like E.F. Hutton. When Mark talks everyone listens.”
Waltrip had high praise for Vickers as well.
“It is amazing that we have a driver of Brian’s talent available to drive our No. 55 Toyota again in 2013. He is a race-winning, Chase-caliber driver and we are so happy to have him back. We gave Brian a difficult assignment in 2012 and not only has he thrived in the role, but he has made the entire team better,” Waltrip said.
“Believe me; I know how hard it is to run a part-time schedule with races spread throughout the schedule. I have been most impressed with his attitude towards the crew and his approach to his job and really feel confident that he can win with our team.”
All three drivers have enjoyed success working with Rodney Childers who will return as crew chief in 2013. Martin owns four top-five and nine top-10 finishes in 21 races while Vickers has posted three top-five and four top-10 finishes in seven races for MWR in 2012. Waltrip owns a top-10 finish at Talladega in May and nearly won at Talladega in October.
The team is 14th in car owner points as Vickers makes his eighth and final appearance of the season this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. Martin will drive the No. 55 in the remaining 2012 races.
Martin and Waltrip will continue to drive the Aaron’s Dream Machine paint scheme in 2013 while sponsorship for six of Vickers’ nine races is available.