Joe Gibbs Racing announced on Friday that Brian Vickers, not Mark Martin, would fill in for Denny Hamlin behind the wheel of the No. 11 Toyota in Sprint Cup Series competition, beginning with the April 13 race at Texas Motor Speedway. Martin will still be in the car for the April 7 STP Gas Booster 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.
Martin was originally announced as the interim driver of the No. 11 soon after Hamlin sustained a spinal injury in a last-lap crash also involving Joey Logano in the Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., on March 24. But plans have been modified somewhat with Martin now slated to be in the car for the Martinsville race and then Vickers assuming driving duties from the Texas race until Hamlin is able to return. Hamlin is expected to be out of the car for several weeks.
“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,” Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs said. “We were a bit premature in determining Mark’s status past Martinsville, however.”
Both Martin and Vickers share driving duties of the No. 55 Toyota in the Sprint Cup Series for Michael Waltrip Racing. Vickers will drive that car at Martinsville before Martin returns to the seat at Texas. Vickers also drive a Joe Gibbs Racing entry full-time in the Nationwide Series.
“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,” Gibbs said.
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