Michael Waltrip won't let his brother Darrell or anyone else drive the Aaron's Dream Machine. But Lilburn, Ga.'s Ken Butler III, is finally getting his own dream come true by piloting the famous Aaron's Lucky Dog Dream Machine in NASCAR competition.
Through R3 Motorsports, Butler will be making his first Nationwide Series attempt in the No. 23 at the Stater Bros 300 at Auto Club Speedway this weekend.
Last season Butler spent the season driving for Eddie Sharp Racing. He finished a career-best 10th in the ARCA RE/MAX Series driver points.
In 32 career series starts since 2007, has 10 top-10 finishes including one victory at Toledo Speedway '07.
Butler also finished fourth at Kentucky Speedway in '08, sixth at Nashville Superspeedway in '08, seventh at Pocono Raceway in '08, seventh at Kansas Speedway in '08, seventh at Iowa Speedway in '08, seventh at Michigan Int'l Speedway in '08, seventh at Michigan Int'l Speedway in ‘07, ninth at Berlin Raceway in ‘07, 11th at Pocono in '08, 11th at Toledo in '08, 11th at Nashville in ‘07, 11th at Salem Speedway in ‘07, 13th at Springfield mile-dirt in '08 and 14th at Toledo in ‘07.
Butler collected two SIM Factory Pole Awards at Kansas and Nashville last year. He also qualified second at Kentucky in ‘07, second at Toledo in '07 and third at Berlin in '07.
Butler has led 66 laps in three races. He is a veteran of USAR Pro Cup Series, ASA and Pro Challenge Series late model competition, a well as a graduate of Richard Petty Driving Experience and Buddy Baker's Speed Tech.
Butler, the son of Aaron Sales and Lease's chief operating officer Ken Butler, could be what made Waltrip's decision a lot easier. He is scheduled to run 18 Nationwide Series races in 2009.
"All of us here at R3 Motorsports are proud to have Aaron's on board for the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide season," said Rob Fuller of R3 Motorsports.
"In today's economic state we feel very fortunate to have Aaron's on board to assist with the ever-growing expenses required to run competitively in the Nationwide Series.
"We look forward to representing the company in the manner which they deserve. This is a huge boost in the confidence level of our young team."
Butler is a young man full of talent with a lot of time to develop his skills and compete. He could be in the works to replace Waltrip in the No. 55 Camry in the Sprint Cup Series, if (and when) he decides to retire.
R3 Motorsports fielded a car driven by Mike Skinner in the Cup Seres season opener at Daytona last weekend but failed to make the field after Thursday's qualifying races. Butler will split time this year with Robert Richardson Jr.