The fate of Vickers is known but where will Martin end up in 2014?

With the move by Mark Martin to the SHR No. 14 Chevrolet, Brian Vickers steps up to the plate earlier than expected in the No. 55 MWR Toyota.

Originally, Mark Martin was scheduled to drive the No. 55 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota in several of the remaining races on the 2013 schedule, but as of Monday, he's out. Instead, Brian Vickers will get a head start on 2014 by driving the No. 55 in all but one remaining event, with that one race being the October 20 even at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Car owner Michael Waltrip tends to take over driving duties for restrictor plate races.

Martin's not without anything to do, racing-wise, though. According to an announcement from Stewart-Haas Racing, also coming on Monday, Martin will be the go-to substitute for the injured Tony Stewart and drive the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet. Stewart is now officially out for the duration of the 2013 season. Martin won't be in the No. 14 for one race, though, the event at Talladega. Austin Dillon will return to the seat of the No. 14 for that race.

Brian Vickers and Tony Stewart
Brian Vickers and Tony Stewart

Photo by: Action Sports Photography

It makes perfect since for MWR to amend its 2013 schedule to get more late-season seat time for Vickers. After all, the organization has already announced that Vickers will be driving the car next year. What better way to prepare for 2014 than a little seat time at the end of 2013? And Vickers is available. He was, after all, already one of the three drivers sharing the seat, up to this point, this year, and last year, for that matter. He does have Nationwide Series duties, driving the No. 20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, but there's not much conflict there. Both MWR and JGR are Toyota teams and there's only one remaining race weekend left in which the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series are at different venues -- the Sept. 21-22 race weekend when the Nationwide Series is at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta and the Sprint Cup Series is at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.

"Well, obviously, Brian is poised to race for a championship," Waltrip said. "The job he's done in the 55 on a limited basis has been really impressive. To be able to be a part-timer and grab a win like he did at Loudon, that's just amazing in this day and age. But mostly it'll just get him up to speed on the mile-and-a-half tracks. He hasn't run any of those and there's a lot of those in the schedule, so it'll just give him a chance to get familiar with what it's going to take to run consistently and fast on all those tracks. It's a really big deal for our organization to be able to get some more races in with Brian and the team as we prepare for 2014."

Race winner Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet celebrates
Race winner Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet celebrates

Photo by: Getty Images

The early move is a win-win for both organizations involved. Vickers and the No. 55 team get to do some early homework for next season and the No. 14 team at Stewart-Haas gets an experienced and accomplished driver to fill-in for its sidelined driver. Martin in the No. 14 for all but one remaining race also give the No. 14 team a feel of consistency. Stewart has already missed two races and, so far, two different drivers have occupied the seat -- Max Papis and Dillon.

"Obviously it's great that this worked out for everybody here at Stewart-Haas, our partners, to put a veteran in that has as much experience, wins, top 5s, all those things are so important to go out and finish the year on a strong note," Stewart-Haas Racing Director of Competition Greg Zipadelli said. "Obviously we're still racing for a spot in the Chase with the 39 car, and we'll do the best we can with owner's points. By keeping one guy that has a lot of experience in there like Mark, I think it gives us our best shot."

But where does Martin go from here. Vickers already knows he'll be staying put in the No. 55 when the calendar rolls over to 2014. And, of course, Stewart will be back behind the wheel of the No. 14 next year. But what will become of Martin? According to Waltrip, Martin has already met the goal he was supposed to meet at MWR.

"Mark's goal when he came to Michael Waltrip Racing was to drive the car part-time and then help us to land a full-time driver we could race for the championship with," Waltrip said. "That was his main focus, and he did just that. So the whole experience has been very positive, and I'm very grateful."

It's probably safer to assume that Martin's not looking for anything full-time, at least from a driving standpoints. He's been a part-time driver at MWR the last two years. And prior to his two-year stint at Hendrick Motorsports, he had also been a part-time driver for some time. As for his time at Hendrick, it took some convincing from team owner Rick Hendrick to get Martin to consider full-time competition again. It may be somewhat safe to assume that the days of Martin racing full-time are over. But that's something that Martin claims he's not thinking about right now.

Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota and Michael Waltrip
Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota and Michael Waltrip

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

"I don't have a plan right now, and I have much less planned right now than I had a week ago," Martin said. "A week ago I was going to race a partial schedule. Now I'm racing all but one with a whole new situation with what I feel like is a lot of challenges and a lot of pressure, and I don't want to think about 2014 at all right now."

But are there any teams looking for a part-time driver? There doesn't seem to be. As far as part-time driving goes, it looks like the only possibility may be back with Michael Waltrip Racing. After all, Waltrip has shown no signs of retiring, completely, from driving and all of his existing entries have full-time drivers lined-up for next year. Is Waltrip going to field a fourth-car on a part-time bases for himself? If so, maybe a few more races could be added for Martin.

But then again, Martin was allowed to go outside the fold to drive a Chevrolet, as Stewart-Haas is a Chevy team. So maybe MWR isn't really an option. These final races in the No. 14 may be the final races for Martin as a driver, we don't really know. He's surely to remain in NASCAR, though, in some capacity. After all, when it comes to having and advisor, a.k.a. driver coach, on a team's staff, who better than Martin?

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About this article
Drivers Tony Stewart , Michael Waltrip , Max Papis , Brian Vickers , Eric Gilbert , Austin Dillon , Mark Martin
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing , Hendrick Motorsports , Michael Waltrip Racing , Joe Gibbs Racing
Article type Commentary
Tags 2014, chevrolet, commentary, dillon, future, gibbs, jgr, martin, mwr, nascar nationwide, nascar sprint cup, nns, nscs, shr, stewart, toyota, vickers, waltrip