MWR Targets Martin for Limited 2012 Run
Only weeks after adding Clint Bowyer, Michael Waltrip Racing appears on the brink of once again altering its driver lineup for the 2012 season -- this time through the addition of veteran Mark Martin on a limited basis.
Sources indicated Tuesday that the team is pursuing Martin to drive a limited schedule next year in the No. 00 Toyota currently piloted by David Reutimann, who is responsible for MWR's two victories on NASCAR's premier level. That arrangement would be primarily sponsorship-driven and leave the Waltrip organization with two full-time drivers next year, Martin Truex Jr. and Bowyer, the latter of whom is leaving Richard Childress Racing for MWR at the end of this season.
An MWR spokesman declined comment. The organization 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.
None of this bodes well for Reutimann, who appears to be the latest victim of the sponsorship squeeze reshaping the NASCAR garage area. The 41-year-old scored MWR'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.
Martin thrived in a limited role at Ginn Racing in 2007 and Dale Earnhardt Inc. in 2008. The 52-year-old will step out of Hendrick Motorsports' No. 5 car after this year, when he will turn the vehicle over to Kasey Kahne. He 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.
"Nationwide racing, Cup racing would be more of a limited schedule, like I did in 2007 and 2008. That is where my heart is at, and ... there is starting to be a little bit of movement going on," Martin said at Talladega. "I am confident that I will be racing .... I don't have anything and it has been extremely quiet throughout the year and it is very late in the season, but there is still going to be something happening and sponsorship things that are going to happen. They are just going to happen later in the year .... It is sponsorship-driven, where I land and what I do. No news yet."