The familiar No. 00 car is going away next year as Michael Waltrip Racing announced today that Mark Martin and Michael Waltrip’s Toyota Camrys will carry the number 55 during the 2012 and 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series seasons.
The number commemorates Charlie Loudermilk’s founding of Aaron’s, Inc. in 1955.
“This is a new era for the Aaron’s Dream Machine,” said Aaron’s Chief Operating Officer Ken Butler. “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 number 55 in our company, and I know they will have pride watching that number compete on Sundays while flying our colors.”
Martin will drive in 25 Sprint Cup events each of the next two seasons, sharing the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine with Waltrip who will drive seven events with Aaron’s sponsorship. Martin will join Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. in the MWR stable of drivers.
Martin will begin his tenure with MWR at the 2012 Daytona 500. Waltrip will run the remaining restrictor plate races plus the race in his home state of Kentucky. MWR plans to run a combination of drivers and sponsor partners to fill the remaining races when Martin and Waltrip are not behind the wheel.
“I love it, a new team, a new car and a new number,” said Martin. “The car number means a lot to the driver. We talked about a lot of different number options, but the number 55 means a lot to Aaron’s and to Michael, so I am proud to drive it.”
Waltrip raced the No. 55 at Bill Davis Racing in 2006 and 2007-2009, the first three years of MWR’s existence.
“This means a lot to me,” said Waltrip. “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 an honor.”
Aaron’s relationship with MWR began in 2000 when the Atlanta-based company sponsored six races for Waltrip’s Nationwide team. The relationship grew from a partial Nationwide program to one of the most recognizable Cup partnerships in the sport with aggressive activation and extensive usage of Waltrip and MWR in television and radio commercials.
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