News & Media

Points deal locks Martin into Daytona 500 field

February 14, 2012, David Caraviello,

Mark Martin's first Daytona 500 with Michael Waltrip Racing got a little easier Tuesday, when he became locked into the event's starting field thanks to a points deal with FAS Lane Racing.

Martin's No. 55 car, in which he will run a part-time Sprint Cup schedule in 2012, did not previously have a guaranteed berth in the race. The No. 32 car of FAS Lane Racing, owned by former Cup Series crew chief Frank Stoddard, finished 34th in owners' points last season, giving it secure starting positions for the first five races of the upcoming campaign. Those points have been transferred to Martin's vehicle as part of a deal that apparently makes FAS Lane minority owner Bill Jenkins a co-owner of the No. 55.

"When Bill Jenkins permitted Frank Stoddard to take FAS Lane Racing in a new direction it created an opportunity for Bill and MWR to work together in 2012," Waltrip said in a statement supplied by the team. "These partnerships are mutually beneficial for everyone involved. For MWR, this partnership has everything to do with benefitting our loyal sponsors, our new drivers and the growth of our young organization."

MWR expanded to three cars this season with Martin and Clint Bowyer joining holdover Martin Truex Jr. Part of the reason behind the deal, Waltrip said, was to pay back sponsors by guaranteeing them a spot in NASCAR's biggest race.

"Our motivation was to take care of them," Waltrip said. "Both Bill and MWR have worked closely with NASCAR to adhere to the guidelines. All of us owners understand how difficult it is and given the opportunity to take care of our partners, we all support each other."

Martin will run a 25-event schedule this season in an Aaron's-backed car he will split with Waltrip. A regular in the Great American Race since 1988, Martin's best finish in the Daytona 500 is a narrow runner-up result behind Kevin Harvick in 2007.