Rumors of Mark Martin's substitute role have been greatly exaggerated. It will now last only one race, after a series of conflicting annoucements.
Joe Gibbs Racing originally reported on Thursday that Martin would be competing for Denny Hamlin while Hamlin recuperates from a lower-back compression fracture, suffered during a last-lap crash at Auto Club Speedway on Sunday.
The sub-headline that read, "Veteran NASCAR Driver Mark Martin to Drive No. 11 FedEx Toyota Until Hamlin Returns" indicated that the affable 54-year-old veteran would sub throughout Hamlin's recovery.
But apparently the deal was not cleared by Aaron's, which is sponsoring Martin in the No. 55 this season and has enjoyed a relationship with Michael Waltrip since 2000.
JGR subsequently said that its Nationwide Series driver, Brian Vickers, will run the balance of the races as Hamlin's fill-in -- after Martin drives for JGR on April 7 at Martinsville. Hamlin is expected to be out six weeks.
"Obviously having to f...