Brian Vickers mentioned it in brief on Tuesday, when he was announced as full-time driver of the No. 55 Aaron’s Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing from 2014. But Mark Martin’s guidance and mentorship has played a major role during his time in driving part-time with MWR to this point.
“Mark is just a phenomenal person. Been a great mentor. He’s gone through a lot in his life,” Vickers said in a media teleconference on Wednesday. “Leaning on him, having someone to lean on like that, and Michael as well, both of them have been great for me. It’s led to this opportunity now for two more years.”
Vickers was asked how much input Martin provided when it came to selecting him as the No. 55 driver for 2014.
“That’s a great question and probably a better question for him and the folks at MWR,” Vickers admitted. “I can’t thank him enough for this. He’s not only been an encouragement and support for me, he’s been an advocate, to my knowledge, behind the scenes.
“I can’t really speak to say what he has or hasn’t said or done or hasn’t done. But I’ve had many people come to me and say, ‘Wow, Mark has been saying good things about you.’ That means a lot. Someone that carries so much respect in this sport, anytime they have something positive to say, people listen, especially to a guy like Mark Martin.”
Martin’s plans for 2014 are undetermined. Several times Martin has planned on “riding off into the sunset,” retiring after an illustrious career that has everything but a NASCAR Cup championship on his resume.
Porsche will skip Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race with its two GTLM cars at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course after three positive COVID-19 tests were confirmed during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
That resulted in Porsche choosing to pull out of the Nurburgring 24 Hour endurance race in Germany, electing to avoid sending any team members as a precautionary measure.
Porsche Motorsport announced Tuesday that its COVID-19 decision also would apply at Mid-Ohio to its No. 911 and No. 12 teams.
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Three of Porsche’s four IMSA GTLM drivers — Laurens Vanthoor, Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy — also were racing in Le Mans. The trio has remained isolated in Europe and won’t be allowed to travel.
“Based on yesterday’s decision that no employee or racing driver of our Le Mans team will participate in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, we have today decided that this ruling will also apply to the upcoming IWSC race in Mid-Ohio,” Fritz Enzinger, vice president for Porsche Motorsport, said in a release. “This means that Laurens, Nick and Fred will not be traveling to the USA.
“This is very regrettable, but we would like to emphasize that in this case as well the health of all those concerned is the prime focus of the decisions we have taken.”
The decision also affects Earl Bamber, who teamed with Vanthoor to win the GTLM championship last year in the No. 912.
Porsche said its GTLM Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries will return for the Oct. 10 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.
That will reduce the GTLM class to four cars — two Corvettes and two BMWs — this weekend at Mid-Ohio, in what could be somewhat of a 2021 preview. Porsche Motorsport announced earlier this year that it will leave IMSA after the 2020 season because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.