Martin commits to 24 Sprint Cup events for DEI

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Mark Martin will compete in 24 Sprint Cup events in the No. 8 car at Dale Earnhardt Inc. this season.

Aric Almirola will drive the car for the remaining 12 points event, with his first race being the season's fifth race at Bristol, Tenn.

Martin also will drive in two non-points events, the Budweiser Shootout to kick off the season and the All-Star race in Charlotte in the car that had become synonymous with Dale Earnhardt Jr. before his departure to Hendrick Motorsports.

The biggest shift in Martin's schedule, down one points race from last season in the No. 01, is the addition of the first Talladega race. He skipped both events at the restrictor-plate track a year ago.

"It's going to be an exciting season," said Martin, who will enter his 26th year of Cup racing. "It's an incredible honor to drive the No. 8 car for Dale Earnhardt Inc. and we are excited about moving into the season.

"Those guys on this team really had some fast cars a year ago, and we are looking to build on that. Our goal is to be competitive and race up front this season."

Martin also said DEI is negotiating to sign motocross star Ricky Carmichael to drive a full Camping World East Series (formerly Busch East) schedule this year.

"Ricky has the fire, desire and talent to do this stuff,'' said Martin, who worked with Carmichael at Ginn Racing before the merger with DEI last season.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.