Published on July 1st, 2008 | by Michael J Smith1
Armirola To Drive DEI's No. 8 Full Time In 2009
Dale Earnhardt Inc. is expected to officially announce today that Aric Almirola will drive the DEI’s No. 8 U.S. Army Chevy next season, according to ESPN.
Mark Martin is also expected to announce sometime this week that he will drive the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevy full time next season, taking over for Casey Mears.
There were several reasons for DEI to put Almirola in the U.S. Army No. 8 next season. The first is that he needs more seat time. The second is that he fits the Army demographic more than Martin, who turns 105 next year. (Joking!) And third, that was always the plan.
DEI informed Martin of the decision to go with Almirola full time back in May. At that time, Martin expressed interest in competing in more than the number of races he was under contract to race next season.
Almirola’s relationship with No. 8 crew chief Tony Gibson was cited at the reason Almirola will end up in the No. 8. The No. 01 was also an option.
To me, this move makes sense. Almirola needs seat time, and he needs chemistry with his crew chief. Splitting seat time hampers both of those things, so this ultimately is a good decision for DEI.
Martin moving over the Hendrick makes sense, too, if you think about it. While it is somewhat annoying that he’s coming out of retirement, he still wants to make one last run at a championship in good equipment.
It also makes sense if the plan is to have Brad Keselowski take over that ride in 2010. That way he gets more experience in the Nationwide series and can make a better entrance into Sprint Cup.