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.