Multiple reports surfaced on Tuesday indicating that David Reutimann, driver of the Aaron's 00 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing, will be out of a job at the end of the season. Replacing him on a partial schedule will be Mark Martin, who is in the final days of his contract with Hendrick Motorsports.
Waltrip Racing has an announcement scheduled for Friday at Texas at which it is expected to formalize this arrangement. If so, it would represent a significant domino effect across several teams:
First, the extra sponsorship funding gained by not running Martin all 36 races could be used to help fund new MWR driver Clint Bowyer's operations.
Next, with Martin off the table, that opens the door to questions about which driver will run the portion of the schedule that Danica Patrick will not do for Stewart-Haas Racing. While Tony Stewart is expected to announce that schedule in Texas, it's not yet certain how many races would need to be filled.
Third, this adds Reutimann to an already deep pool of drivers without rides for 2012, including David Ragan and Brian Vickers. Will these drivers catch on with another team? Will they be forced to drop down to Nationwide or Trucks series events to stay in the sport?
Fourth, this represents a PR upgrade for MWR, if not necessarily an on-track performance boost. With Martin, Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr., Waltrip now fields a trio as strong as it's ever had. If there was a time for the team to take a big leap forward, that time is now.
Much remains to be detailed and formalized, of course, but if these initial reports prove correct, a once-dull silly season has just livened up.
- David Reutimann
- Mark Martin
- Clint Bowyer
- Hendrick Motorsports