Almirola has ride for 2009
CHARLOTTE ó Dale Earnhardt Inc. will use Aric Almirola full-time next season in a promotion that will free Mark Martin to move to Hendrick Motorsports next year.
Almirola and Martin have shared a ride since the middle of last season, but Almirola will pilot the No. 8 Chevrolet exclusively next season, DEI said Tuesday. Martin is expected to replace Casey Mears in Hendrickís No. 5 car, and an official announcement is scheduled for Friday at Daytona International Raceway.
iThis is an incredibly exciting opportunity,î Almirola said. iWhen you get into racing, you always dream of competing at the highest level, and Iíve had the chance to do that on a limited basis for the past two seasons.
iNow I will have the opportunity to race the car full-time, and I could not be more excited about driving the No. 8 car each week for Dale Earnhardt Inc.î
Almirola began sharing the ride with Martin last summer after he gained his release from Joe Gibbs Racing. In 11 Sprint Cup Series starts, Almirola has one top 10 ó an eighth-place finish in his season debut at Bristol in March.
iThere is no doubt Aric is ready to go full-time,î said Martin. iAric is an incredible talent and a true student of the sport. Having him run a full-time program in the No. 8 was always part of the plan, but his development has allowed us to accelerate things.
iDriving that (No.) 8 car has been a tremendous honor for me given the respect I have for Dale Earnhardt and DEI, but it is also a great honor to be able to turn over the driving duties of that car to a young man that is destined for great things.î
Martin has 12 more races scheduled for this season in the No. 8, formerly driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr.