Gibbs racing turns to Mark Martin to fill Hamlin’s spot

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Mark Martin will step in to replace the injured Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

The 54-year-old Martin, who has been driving part-time for Michael Waltrip Racing, was announced today as Hamlin’s substitute by JGR.
Hamlin will be out for at least six weeks as he recovers from a compression fracture in his L1 vertebrae, which he suffered in a last-lap wreck on Sunday at Auto Club Speedway.

“Obviously, we’re not exactly sure how long [Hamlin’s recovery] is going to take, but Mark’s career speaks for itself and our team knows it will have the opportunity to compete for a win every week,” said JGR president J.D. Gibbs in a conference call on Thursday.

As for the injured Hamlin, he said in a statement that while he hated not being in his car, he was glad that Martin was available to help.

“Like everyone in NASCAR, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mark and I know he will keep that FedEx Camry up front until I get back behind the wheel,” he said.

According to Jeff Gluck of USA Today, Martin was already committed to drive MWR’s No. 55 Toyota in some of the races during Hamlin’s expected recovery period. Martinsville was not on that list, as Brian Vickers had been slated to race the No. 55 at the next race on April 7 at Martinsville Speedway.

MWR has not officially announced who will drive in Martin’s absence, but the team is believed to be evaluating Vickers as a potential replacement for Martin in 2014. If that’s true, then it’d make sense for MWR to give Vickers more seat time in the No. 55.

Red Bull Air Race: Yoshi Muroya joins Sato as Japanese champs at Indy

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool
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Takuma Sato isn’t the only major Japanese athlete to take home top honors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this year. Countryman Yoshihide Muroya joined him in that on Sunday after winning Red Bull Air Race at IMS, and the Red Bull Air Race World Championship in the process.

Fittingly, the 101st Indianapolis 500 champion was there on site to join him in the celebration.

Muroya flew with a track-record run in the final and erased the four-point deficit to points leader Martin Sonka. The record run came after a disappointing qualifying effort of 11th in the 14-pilot field in the Master Class.

A day after the win, Muroya joined Sato in heading to Sato’s new Verizon IndyCar Series team, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing’s, Indianapolis-based shop.

A few social posts from Muroya’s victory and the subsequent celebration are below.

CHECKING OUT EACH OTHER’S RIDES

ASTLES BREAKS THOUGH AS WELL

Muroya wasn’t alone among big winners at the Speedway. In the Challenger Class, Melanie Astles of France became the first woman to win a major race at IMS, and is the first female winner in the Red Bull Air Race World Championship.

Nine women have competed in the Indianapolis 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher, Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Simona de Silvestro, Pippa Mann, Ana Beatriz, Katherine Legge) and Mann is the first woman to have been on the pole position at IMS, having done so for the Freedom 100 in 2010 in Indy Lights.

Photo: Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool