Multiple reports have surfaced saying that David Reutimann the driver of the #00 Aarons Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing will not be returning for the 2012 season and that Mark Martin will be taking his place. An official announcement is set to come on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway.
But does the singing of Martin make Michael Waltrip Racing a viable team?
Since it’s inception the team has primarily been a back of the pack entitle. Two exceptions have been wins by David Reutimann at Charlotte and Chicagoland. Aside from those races, the majority of the fans know the team for equipment failures and zany commercials for sponsors NAPA and Aarons.
Waltrip is trying to make improvements this year. He signed Clint Bowyer and is planning on expanding to three full time cars. While other teams are staying at their current capacity or in the case of Roush Fenway Racing shrinking to three cars, Waltrip is expanding.
Bowyer has four Cup victories, a Nationwide Series title and a history of making the Sprint Cup Chase, NASCAR’s version of a playoff.
Martin will be coming over from Hendrick Motorsports. He has 40 career victories, and is just a couple of years removed from a 5 win season that resulted in a second place finish in the point standings. While he’ll be a part time driver, he brings instant credibility with him for Waltrip.
No one expects Mark Martin to show up at a race shop and not expect to have a chance to win. Along with Bowyer they will provide the team with valuable experience.
Of course the other thing that will help Waltrips operation is the new goal of Toyota Racing Development. The TRD program is planning to be the sole producer of race engines for Toyota ran teams in NASCAR. This alignment will be similar to the one that Roush Yates Engines formed for the Ford run cars.
Running quality equipment is nice but you have to have quality drivers. You have to give Michael Waltrip credit when he didn’t stop at Clint Bowyer and found a way to get Mark Martin into one of his cars. These two things working together may finally result in MWR breaking though at the Cup level.