Rumor and speculation became fact on Friday when Michael Waltrip Racing officially introduced Mark Martin as the new driver of the No. 00 Toyota.
The veteran will end his tenure at Hendrick Motorsports at season's end and then shift over to MWR beginning next season for a limited schedule as part of a two year deal with an option for a third.
Martin will drive in 25 Sprint Cup events each of the next two seasons including 24 points events as well as the Sprint All-Star Race. He'll share the No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine with Michael Waltrip, who will drive five events including four races at Daytona and Talladega as wel as the July Kentucky Speedway race. Martin will join Martin Truex Jr. and recently acquired Clint Bowyer in the MWR stable next season.
"It is the perfect schedule for me, and it gives me an opportunity to catch my breath," said Martin, who will effectively replace David Reutimann with the team.
Waltrip explained the deal to bring Martin on board came together in a relatively short period of time but was pleased with the new addition to his race team as well as extended the relationship with Aaron's for continued sponsorship.
“This is a big day for our organization, announcing a sponsorship extension and adding a future first-ballot Hall of Famer like Mark Martin," Waltrip said.
“It is very rare that a young organization gets an opportunity to hire a driver with Mark’s incredible talent, experience and insight into what it takes to be a winner. Mark will be competitive but also a great teammate to Clint, Martin and me. I’m thrilled he will be in our cars, but just as thrilled he will be in our meetings.”
Martin has been looking for the right opportunity to remain in the sport since earlier this year when he knew his contract at Hendrick would expire. He's looking forward to a chance to perform well with MWR as well as helping the organization reach the next level.
"The performance level is not where they'd it like to be right now, but they're making a serious move toward stepping that up," Martin said. "I'm really excited to have a chance to be a part of that. Everybody knows I like to help people. Getting a chance to work with some of the young drivers that come along and come through the program is something that really means a lot to me."
Waltrip said the team is actively looking for additional sponsorship to keep the car on track for the balance of next season and that all options, including drivers and sponsors, are open.
"We're open to suggestions," Waltrip said.
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