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Waltrip targets Vickers for third car in 2014

May 04, 2013, David Caraviello,

Team owner hopes to keep Martin's fill-in in MWR fold

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- If Michael Waltrip had his choice, Brian Vickers would drive his No. 55 car full-time on the Sprint Cup Series in 2014, with longtime sponsor Aaron’s on the front of the vehicle.

Waltrip, making a rare start this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, said Saturday his hopes are to bring Vickers and Aaron’s together full-time at Michael Waltrip Racing in 2014, using one driver in a ride now split between Vickers, Waltrip, and Mark Martin, who is in his final season with the organization.


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Martin is running 24 of 36 points races this year in the No. 55 car, in addition to the exhibition Sprint Unlimited and Sprint All-Star Race. Waltrip, a two-time Daytona 500 champion, takes the wheel for restrictor-plate events like Sunday’s race at the 2.66-mile Talladega track. The remaining events are filled by Vickers, who also pilots a Nationwide Series car full-time at Toyota stablemate Joe Gibbs Racing.

Next year, Waltrip hopes to have Vickers in the vehicle full-time as teammates to current MWR drivers Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr.

“We’ve raced with Aaron’s for 14 years, and we hope that we can sign something that will put that deal together for the near foreseeable future to come, three years or so,” Waltrip said. “We’re working hard with Aaron’s. We’ve targeted Brian Vickers as the guy we want to drive our car. We think Brian is a future champion in the Cup Series. We want Brian to drive it and we want Aaron’s to sponsor it. That’s the news, and that’s where it’s at.”

Waltrip, this weekend driving a No. 55 car with an Alabama Crimson Tide paint scheme to honor the reigning college football national champions, is optimistic the deal will come together.

“I think both Aaron’s and Brian are very into making that happen,” he said. “It would just be a matter of getting the details worked out in order to be able to announce it soon. So when it happens, it won’t be a surprise, because that’s what we’re after.”

Vickers, a two-time race winner in NASCAR’s premier series, has been without a full-time Sprint Cup ride since his former Red Bull team was sold. He competed in eight events in MWR’s No. 55 car last season, recording a top finish of fourth at Bristol and Sonoma. So far this year he’s made two starts, with a top result of eighth at Bristol. He’s also been substituting in JGR’s No. 11 car for Denny Hamlin, who has been recovering from a fractured vertebra, but will start Sunday’s event.

Martin, 54, is in the final season of a two-year deal with MWR. Although he has announced no plans for 2014, he is still expected to compete on a limited basis at NASCAR’s national level.


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