Smith replaces Marlin at Ginn; Nemechek released

MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Ginn Racing replaced Sterling Marlin in
its No. 14 Chevrolet with 23-year-old rookie Regan Smith on
Tuesday, and released veteran Joe Nemechek.

Jay Frye, Ginn Racing's CEO and general manager, also said that
Aric Almirola, another 23-year-old, signed with Ginn Racing from
Joe Gibbs Racing and will become Mark Martin's co-driver in the No.
01 Chevrolet for the remainder of this season. Almirola will also
share the ride with the veteran racer in 2008.

"A lot has been said about our program recently and this shows
we've been working hard to solidify our future," Frye said. "We
are very excited about Aric joining our U.S. Army team to co-drive
with Mark. He is a talented young driver, as is Regan, who has
proved this season that he is ready to take full control of a
Nextel Cup ride. These two 23-year-old drivers are the groundwork
for future success.

"We appreciate everything that Joe and Sterling have done for
us," added Frye. "They have been a class act."

Beginning with the July 29 race at Indianapolis, Smith will
replace two-time Daytona 500 winner Marlin, who turned 50 on June
30. He was 29th in the season points with no finish better than

Frye said a lack of sponsorship forced to the team release
Nemechek and evaluate the future of the No. 13 car. The 43-year-old
Nemechek had one top-10 finish this season -- ninth in the
season-opening Daytona 500 -- and was 33rd in the standings.

Marlin, a 30-year veteran in NASCAR, joined Ginn Racing
following the 2005 season. Nemechek joined the team, then called
MB2 Motorsports, with four races remaining in the 2003 season. He
drove the No. 01 car before taking over the No. 13 ride at the
beginning of this season. While in the 01 car, he had one win and
three poles.

Smith, who has competed in five Nextel Cup races this season
while sharing the ride with Martin, was ranked fifth in Busch
points before his No. 4 team scaled back after the 16th race.

"I am ready to go and take advantage of another Ginn Racing
opportunity," Smith said. "This is a quality organization with
great equipment. I have learned so much this year driving with Mark
and you can bet that I will continue to seek his advice. I am also
excited about having Aric as a new teammate."

Almirola, a Tampa, Fla., native of Cuban descent, was one of Joe
Gibbs Racing's first prospects in the company's diversity program
founded by Gibbs and the late Reggie White, an initiative that
traces its roots back to 2003.

He will make his Ginn Racing debut Aug. 12 on the road course in
Watkins Glen, N.Y. As part of his contractual obligations, Almirola
will also compete in five more Busch races for JGR this season.

"I am so excited about this opportunity," said Almirola, who
has three Busch Series poles and a victory, as he co-drove with
Denny Hamlin to win The Milwaukee Mile. "To share a ride with Mark
Martin and have him as a driving coach is awesome.

"I can't thank Joe Gibbs Racing enough for what they've done
for me. They allowed me to get to this position by giving me a
chance at a time when I had a lot of desire but little money. The
equipment they gave me and the people they surrounded me with made
me a better race car driver and a better person. They saw what this
opportunity with Ginn Racing meant to me, and they didn't stand in
the way. Joe Gibbs Racing will always have a special place in my

Team owner Bobby Ginn also is negotiating with Dale Earnhardt Inc. about some type of merger between the two teams, but nothing has been finalized. DEI tried to purchase the team last season, when it was MB2 Motorsports, before Ginn bought the operation.

Information from ESPN.com motorsports writer Terry Blount and The Associated Press was used in this report.