As Denny Hamlin recovers from a compression fracture in his vertebrae that is expected to keep him out of action for six weeks, Mark Martin and Brian Vickers will share the No. 11 car that Hamlin normally occupies.
Martin will take his turn this weekend at Martinsville Speedway with Vickers driving in the remainder of the races Hamlin misses.
Driving a part-time schedule this season, Martin was originally slated to be off this weekend but when the call came to fill in, it was an opportunity the veteran driver couldn't resist.
"It's exciting for me to work with all new people, spotter and all," Martin said Friday at Martinsville. "It has me up on my toes paying attention and trying to get in sync with a whole group of people and new faces, but that's a good thing.
"That challenge is something that motivates me to make sure I'm engaged 100 percent."
With four victories and 12 top 10s in 15 career starts at Martinsville, Hamlin is typically one of the drivers to beat anytime the Sprint Cup Series heads to short track nestled in the Virginia mountainside.
It is that success and borderline dominance that Martin is hoping to capture, who himself is a two-time Martinsville winner. And that is why he chose to run the same baseline setup that Hamlin normally uses. In turn, Hamlin has also been very forthright in sharing his secrets to navigating around the half-mile oval.
"They are some things that I'm going to be looking for that I haven't as hard in the past that he suggested and we will work together to try to get the best result that we can," Martin said. "... I'm definitely listening.
"He's one of the masters at this race track. We'll work together and try to get the best result we can."
That teamwork will be on display again next week at Texas Motor Speedway when Vickers gets behind the wheel of the No. 11 car.
And if there is a driver who can relate to the emotions Hamlin is going through as he sees someone else in his car it would be Vickers.
In 2010 Vickers was diagnosed with blood clots after 11 races and subsequently missed the remainder of the season.
It was an experience Vickers called "tough," because he didn't know if he would ever be able to compete again, whereas Hamlin knows he will return once his back heals.
"It's not going to be an easy thing for Denny, but he'll move past it," Vickers said Friday. "I think the best thing for him right now is knowing that he's going to get back in the car."
Currently running full-time in the Nationwide Series for Joe Gibbs Racing, Vickers is hoping to use this opportunity to land another full-time ride next year in NASCAR's top series.
But while he's mindful that prospective employers are watching, he isn't going to put any undue pressure on himself to perform.
"Do I think that my performance in the 11 is going to have a bearing?," Vickers asked. "Of course it will. Do I think that means that I have to go win to get a ride next year? No. I want to go win, that's our plan. I think that it will have an impact, but it doesn't necessarily mean that it will."
Vickers is driving a limited Cup schedule this year for Michael Waltrip Racing -- ironically sharing the ride with Martin -- and with Martin stepping aside after this season, Vickers would like the chance to run the No. 55 car full-time in 2014.
Obviously, the opportunity to drive the 55 with everyone at -- I've enjoyed it there," Vickers said. "... I've really found a home there."
For now, though, Vickers is focused entirely on Martinsville knowing that the best way to show he's deserving of whatever openings may come his way is by producing.
"For me right now, the focus is Martinsville and then the focus will be Texas and to go do the best I can," he said. "I think if we go out and run good and win and contend for wins and then the rest will take care of itself wherever it is."