Late Thursday, JGR officially announced Mark Martin would drive the No. 11 for the next few weeks while regular driver Denny Hamlin continues to recover from an L1 compression fracture to his lower back.
Turns out someone was a bit premature in pulling the trigger.
Upon hearing the news of Martin’s signing to drive the No. 11 in Hamlin’s absence, Michael Waltrip Racing (MWR) quickly announced that Martin would return to the No. 55 in Texas, as previously scheduled. However, since Martin is not scheduled to drive the No. 55 this weekend in Martinsville, he will still drive the car this weekend.
MWR has since made Brian Vickers, who is entered in the No. 55 at Martinsville, available to drive the No. 11 starting at Texas. Vickers is a known quantity to JGR, running as a full-time driver for them in the Nationwide Series.
JGR President J.D. Gibbs was a little embarrassed at the premature announcement of Martin’s involvement with the team for the duration of Hamlin’s absence. However, he is happy to have Martin and Vickers share the No. 11.
“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. We were a bit premature in determining Mark’s status past Martinsville,” Gibbs said in a press release. “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.”
The whole situation has made Hamlin a little bit confused.
“This just in.. I’ll give away the drivers seat to the [No. 11] car at Dega to one of my followers,” Hamlin tweeted on Friday.
As of right now, there have been no more updates on Hamlin’s condition other than he is stable and recovering on schedule. He is still expected to miss five races with the fracture.
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