Michael Waltrip Racing announced that Mark Martin will share the driving duties of the No. 55 Toyota and extended its 30-race sponsorship with Aaron’s, Inc. through the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
Martin will drive in 25 Sprint Cup events each of the next two seasons, sharing the No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine with Michael Waltrip, who will drive five events with Aaron’s sponsorship. Martin will join Martin Truex Jr. and recently acquired Clint Bowyer in the MWR stable next season.
Martin will begin his tenure with MWR at the 2012 Daytona 500. Waltrip will run the remaining restrictor plate races plus the race in his home state of Kentucky. MWR plans to run a combination of drivers and sponsor partners to fill the remaining races when Martin and Waltrip are not behind the wheel. Aaron’s looks forward to a successful season with Mark and MWR.
Chase Elliott, Bill Elliott Racing No. 9
Birth date: Nov. 28, 1995
Hometown: Dawsonville, Ga.
Current residence: Dawsonville, Ga.
Hobbies: Snowboarding, riding dirt bikes, playing and watching sports.
Types of cars raced: Stock cars, late models, legends, bandoleros and go karts.
Career highlights: Becoming the youngest driver to win the 2011 Snowball Derby, being voted as the 2011 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Most Popular Driver award and winning his first K&N Pro Series race at Iowa Speedway in May 2012.
Chase Elliott was 6 years old, sitting on the No. 9 pit box at Indianapolis Motor Speedway when his father Bill Elliott won the 2002 Brickyard 400. That victory, while significant for Bill Elliott, was equally life-changing for his son, and Chase Elliott’s heart was set on a career in racing from that moment forward.
The youngster spent as much time as he could in the garage with his father, while his mother Cindy continued to show her son other sports like golf and baseball. But as time passed, Chase Elliott’s passion for racing only grew stronger, particularly after he had the opportunity to meet and observe drivers like Tony Stewart and current teammates Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne.
Now as a 16-year-old, Elliott is competing fulltime for the second straight season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, this time with crew chief Lance McGrew at the helm. Elliott has been a consistent contender as the 2012 season unfolds and won his first career victory in the K&N Pro Series on May 19 when he took the checkered flag in the East-West combination event at Iowa Speedway.
Growing up in Dawsonville, Ga., Elliott worked his way from gokarts all the way up into late models. By his early teenage years, Elliott already had competed against some of the best short-track racers in the nation. He started driving late models nationwide in 2009 and recorded four wins, 13 top-five finishes, 24 top-10s and three pole positions in 31 starts that season.
During the 2010 season, Elliott recorded 42 late model starts, posting 13 victories, 29 top-five finishes, 39 top-10s and six pole awards. That year, Elliott became the youngest driver to win the Blizzard Series at 5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., the Miller Lite Series at Mobile (Ala.) International Speedway and the overall Sunoco Gulf Coast championships. The Dawsonville, Ga., native also scored victories in the prestigious Winchester 400 and at the re-opening of historic North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway.
Elliott opened the 2011 season by signing a multi-year agreement with Hendrick Motorsports. With support from the 10-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship powerhouse, Elliott entered the 2011 season with optimism, driving for his family-owned team Bill Elliott Racing.
As the youngest driver to race in the 2011 K&N Pro Series East season, Elliott earned three top-five finishes and six top-10s in 12 starts and was honored at the conclusion of his rookie season after fans voted a record number of times to name him the Most Popular Driver in the K&N Pro Series East. Being a fan-favorite was also something his father exceled in, as Bill Elliott was awarded the honor a record 16 times on the Sprint Cup level.
In addition to his driving duties in the NASCAR regional touring series events in 2011, Elliott also drove his No. 9 Chevrolet in 24 late model races and was crowned the Champion Racing Association National Super Late Model champion in November. He finished the year with eight wins including the prestigious Snowball Derby in Pensacola, Fla., where he bested Cup-level talent to become the youngest winner in the event’s history. Elliott also tallied 24 top-five finishes and 26 top-10s in 2011.
Winning Most Popular Driver wasn’t the only compliment the Dawsonville, Ga., native received in 2011. In April, he was recognized as Sports Illustrated’s High School Player of the Week. In December, Elliott was voted by fans as ESPN Magazine’s “NEXT” racer, which highlighted up-and-coming young athletes that ESPN considers on the cusp of stardom. Most recently in January, Elliott was named one of the NASCAR drivers 25 and under to watch in 2012 by FOXSports.com.