Vickers to replace Hamlin starting at Texas

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Joe Gibbs Racing has announced that Brian Vickers will step into the injured Denny Hamlin’s No. 11 Toyota starting at Texas Motor Speedway on Apr. 13.

Mark Martin will drive Hamlin’s car at the next Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway on Apr. 7. Martin had been announced Thursday as the replacement driver for Hamlin, but today, Michael Waltrip Racing announced that Martin would only replace Hamlin for Martinsville and then return to his duties as driver of its No. 55 Toyota at Texas.

Vickers will drive MWR’s No. 55 at Martinsville in Martin’s absence.

“Obviously, having to find someone to fill in for Denny is not an ideal situation to have to be in and when you start a process like this, you obviously begin to look at the drivers that are not only available but also able to drive for your race team and manufacturer,” JGR president J.D. Gibbs said in a team statement.

“We were a bit premature in determining Mark’s status past Martinsville, however. We’re real happy to have the opportunity to get Brian in our Cup cars and with him driving Nationwide for us, we think we have some continuity there that is beneficial.”

Vickers currently drives one of JGR’s cars in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and has posted two Top-10 finishes there this season. He has collected 264 Sprint Cup starts in his career, with two victories to his credit; he finished eighth for MWR earlier this month in the Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

MRTI: Telitz gets creative to help racing career

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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To say that Belardi Auto Racing’s Aaron Telitz has endured a difficult start to the 2018 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season would be an understatement. The Wisconsin native only completed four corners through the first three races – Races 1 and 2 at St. Petersburg, and Race 1 at Barber Motorsports Park – with St. Pete being especially problematic.

He took the pole for Race 1, but a crash during qualifying for Race 2 prevented him from actually starting. What’s more, the damage was so severe that the Belardi team needed a brand new chassis, with Telitz’s Dallara IL-15 damaged beyond repair.

They also had to borrow a car from Carlin for Race 2, but Telitz’s race ended after he got tangled up with Victor Franzoni in Turn 2 on Lap 1.

With the damage bill well into the six figures as a result, Telitz has taken to some unique, or rather, creative ways to raise money in the aftermath to help cover the costs. “Creative,” in this case, meaning Telitz is using his art skills.

An artist in his spare time, Telitz has begun selling his own original paintings to help raise money.

 “I’ve been to a lot of art shows and I see stuff and I go, ‘Holy cow, someone’s going to pay a thousand dollars for that thing?’” Telitz quipped in a story posted on the Milwaukee Journal.

In discussing his artistic abilities, Telitz added, “I’m working at getting better. I’d like to be able to paint some animals, those types of things. I got a request from Alexander Rossi to see if I could paint his dog. Unfortunately I can’t do that yet.”

Further, in a partnership with The Styled Garage, Telitz is selling his own merchandise, and accepting donations, to help his cause.

Telitz finished fourth in Race 2 at Barber on Sunday, and sits seventh in the Indy Lights championship, 59 points behind leader Pato O’Ward.

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