Joe Gibbs Racing announced on Thursday that Mark Martin will fill in for injured driver Denny Hamlin behind the wheel of the No. 11 Toyota in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Hamlin suffered a spinal compression fracture during the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on March 24 as a result of a last lap crash with Joey Logano.
“We’ve been real fortunate to have never been in this situation with the need to find someone to fill in for an injured driver,” Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs said. “A lot goes into a decision like this, but we are really pleased to have someone of the character and caliber of Mark Martin to fill in while Denny is out. Obviously, we’re not exactly sure how long that is going to take, but Mark’s career speaks for itself and our team knows it will have the opportunity to compete for a win every week.”
Speculation based on a doctor’s diagnosis has Hamlin’s recovery period at approximately six weeks. The Sprint Cup Series is off during the Easter weekend but will return to action April 7 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Martin is a part-time driver for Michael Waltrip Racing, sharing driving duties of the No. 55 MWR Toyota with Brian Vickers and car owner Michael Waltrip. He has 858-career Sprint Cup starts to his credit that have resulted in 40 race wins, 271 top-fives and 449 top-10 finishes.
“I’m happy to have this opportunity to help out JGR, (sponsor) FedEx and Denny,” Martin said. “Hopefully, I can keep those guys up front and compete for wins while Denny heals up.”
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR