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New driver, new number

One of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams at Michael Waltrip Racing will not only get a new driver in 2012, it’ll also get a new number. Mark Martin was named driver of the formerly-numbered 00 car for 2012 and 2013, replacing David Reutimann. On Wednesday, MWR announced that the car will carry No. 55.

“I love it, a new team, a new car and a new number,” Martin, who comes to MWR from Hendrick Motorsports, said. “the car number means a lot to the driver. We talked about a lot of different number options, but the No. 55 means a lot to Aaron’s (the car’s primary sponsor) and Michael, so I am proud to drive it.”

According to a press release from Michael Waltrip Racing, the No. 55 honors the founding of the car’s primary sponsor. Aaron’s Inc. was founded in 1955.

“This is a new era for the Aaron’s Dream Machine,” Aaron’s COO Ken Butler said. “Our new driver lineup with Mark and Michael created a good opportunity for us to make more changes, including the car number. Every one of our employees knows the significance of the No. 55 in our company, and I know they will have pride watching that number compete on Sundays while flying our colors.”

Martin will drive the newly-numbered 55 car in 25 races in each of the next two seasons. Car owner Michael Waltrip will drive the car in seven races. Martin’s first race in the car will be the season-opening Daytona 500 in February. Waltrip plans to drive the race in the other three restrictor plate races next year and at Kentucky Speedway in his home state.

The races Waltrip drives the car in won’t be the first for owner behind the wheel of a No. 55 car. He raced the No. 55 at Bill Davis Racing in 2006 and drove a No. 55 car in the first three year’s MWR raced at the Sprint Cup level (2007-2009).

“This means a lot to me,” Waltrip said. “I know how far MWR has come since we started with the No. 55 NAPA Toyota and how much we’ve grown heading into 2012. To get back into the No. 55 Toyota in 2012 and share driving duties with a first ballot Hall of Famer in Mark Martin is certainly and honor.”

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Photo of Mark Martin (left) and Michael Waltrip courtesy of Michael Waltrip Racing



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