David Reutimann, the only Sprint Cup race winner in the short history of Michael Waltrip Racing, will not return to the team in 2012 -- opening the door for Mark Martin to potentially drive the No. 00 car on a limited basis next season.
MWR officially announced Thursday that Reutimann would not return. The 41-year-old Florida native scored the Waltrip team's first victory in a rain-shortened Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte in 2009, and also won at Chicagoland the following season. This year he has fallen to 28th in points after a pair of campaigns in the top 20.
Team officials notified Reutimann of the move this week, according to the team. He will remain with the organization for the final three races of this season.
"David has been a significant part of Michael Waltrip Racing since the very beginning, and will forever be a part of our heritage," team co-owner Michael Waltrip said in a statement. "We want to thank David for his contribution to our growth and success over the past five years, and wish him well in the future."
Reutimann's release means MWR will field two-full time cars next year, driven by Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer, the latter of whom is leaving Richard Childress Racing at the end of this season. Sources have indicated that MWR is targeting veteran Mark Martin to race the No. 00 in a part-time schedule next year, a move that appears driven by sponsorship. Martin is nearing the end of his stint in Hendrick Motorsports' No. 5 car, which he will turn over to Kasey Kahne at the conclusion of this season.
MWR does have an announcement scheduled for Friday morning at Texas Motor Speedway, site of this weekend's Sprint Cup event, although the exact topic is unclear.
Martin thrived in a limited role at Ginn Racing in 2007 and Dale Earnhardt Inc. in '08, before returning to a full-time effort the following season. The 52-year-old has made no secret of his desire for a reduced schedule for next year, saying as recently as two weeks ago that the only full-time slate he would consider is that of the Camping World Truck circuit, which this year has 25 points races as opposed to 36 in Sprint Cup.