Martin joins Michael Waltrip Racing, will run 25 Cup races in 2012

Ken Butler, president of Aaron Sales and Lease poses with driver Mark Martin and team owner Michael Waltrip after announcing Martin's move to the No. 00 Aaron's Toyota

Three weeks ago, Mark Martin never thought he would drive for Michael Waltrip Racing. But then he got a text message from team co-owner Michael Waltrip about his 2012 plans and now Martin can expect many more texts from his new boss.

Martin will drive the No. 00 car in 25 Sprint Cup events – 24 points races, including the Daytona 500, and the Sprint All-Star Race – in 2012 and 2013 for MWR.

Replacing David Reutimann as the driver of the No. 00 car, the 52-year-old Martin could be involved with the team beyond 2013 as a driver mentor or in another competition-related role.

“It never crossed my mind [until] I got a text from Michael three weeks ago. … The more I thought about it, the more I looked about it, the more excited I got," Martin said Friday following the announcement at Texas Motor Speedway.

“At face value, I didn’t see that coming. As I started to analyze it, I got more and more excited. As we finalized the deal, it just continued to gain momentum from the excitement side of things. If you look at all the opportunities that they’re going to give there to be involved in multiple things, all of which are fun and I love to do, I couldn’t ask for anymore. I feel very blessed."

Waltrip will drive in the races at Talladega (both), Kentucky, Daytona in July and one other race, which fills out the 30-event sponsorship for Aaron’s. Waltrip also will drive in the Budweiser Shootout, if he’s eligible.

The team hopes to put another driver-sponsor combination in the car for the other eight points races.

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