Well the drama of who will drive in place of Denny Hamlin is finally over. Joe Gibbs Racing announced Thursday evening that Mark Martin will drive the No. 11 Toyota until Hamlin can return to the track behind the wheel.
Hamlin was injured in a last lap crash with his former Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Joey Logano. He suffered an L1 compression fracture as a result of the head first hit in the inside wall. Dr. Jerry Petty has determined at the bare minimum, Hamlin will miss six races if not more. He will make the final determination on whether or not Hamlin can returned after six weeks.
It took longer than expected to announce a replacement driver as logistics had to be worked out between Joe Gibbs Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing to allow Martin to swap rides. There has been no mentions as to who will drive the No. 55, but it will more than likely be Brian Vickers who Waltrip is eying to drive the car full-time next season. He already has a part-time schedule for Waltrip in the No.55
Martin wasn’t schedule to race at Martinsville or Talladega for Michael Waltrip Racing, but will now drive in the place of Hamlin.
The decision to put Martin in the wheel over Elliott Sadler and Vickers, who are competing for the Nationwide Series championship for Gibbs is based Gibbs’ plan to keep the No. 11 in contention for owner’s points while his other two drivers can focus on their Nationwide Series championship.