Almirola full time in No 8, Martin full time in No 5 in 2009

UPDATE #3 Hendrick Motorsports made it official today, announcing Mark Martin as the full-time driver of the organization's No. 5 NASCAR Sprint Cup entry in 2009. See Hot News article regarding announcement.

07/04/08 Hendrick Motorsports will hold a news conference at the press conference room in the Daytona International Speedway infield media center in Daytona Beach, FL on Friday, July 4 at 12:30pm/et to announce future plans for its #5 Chevrolet team. Owner Rick Hendrick will be in attendance. Hendrick Motorsports PR

07/01/08 Hendrick Motorsports is expected to announce Friday at Daytona International Speedway that Mark Martin will drive its No. 5 Sprint Cup Series Chevrolet next season. Hendrick Motorsports issued a media advisory Tuesday that it would conduct a news conference Friday afternoon at the track to announce who will replace Casey Mears in the No. 5 car. Almirola was confirmed today in the No. 8 DEI car. This rumor is now 'fact.'

06/30/08 An official announcement that Aric Almirola will drive the No. 8 car at Dale Earnhardt Inc. full time next season will be made on Tuesday, sources close to the situation said. DEI decided to put Aric Almirola in the No. 8 car full-time because he has developed a good relationship with crew chief Tony Gibson.

Meanwhile, Mark Martin is expected to announce this week at Daytona International Speedway plans to move from his part-time role in the No. 8 to a full-time ride in the No. 5 car at Hendrick Motorsports in 2009.

The decision to put Almirola into the U.S. Army-sponsored car full time had nothing to do with Martin’s decision to return to a full-time Sprint Cup schedule and make one last run at a championship, sources said.

It had more to do with advancing Almirola’s talents and taking advantage of the appeal he has shown with sponsors looking for a younger driver. One of those is U.S. Army, whose target audience fits the 24-year-old Almirola much more than the 49-year-old Martin.

Sources said DEI informed Martin during the All-Star race in May that the organization planned to move forward with Almirola in a full-time ride, either in the No. 8 or 01.

At that time, Martin expressed an interest in competing in more than the 15 to 19 races he was contracted to run next season at DEI. More at

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