Sunday, August 20, 2006

Listen - carefully this time - to what Mark Martin is saying

It amazes me how people don’t pay attention to what they hear and, subsequently, what they write.
I wasn’t at Michigan International Speedway this weekend, but I did read a lot of the stuff that came out of there. Time after time, I read about Mark Martin "waffling" on his plans for the future in Nextel Cup racing or about how he was "changing his mind, again" about coming back in 2006.
Look, I’ve talked to Mark Martin to a significant degree about this subject maybe a dozen times over the past two seasons. Never, ever, in any of those conversations has Martin ever said anything about "retiring" from Nextel Cup.
Let’s back up a year. Early in the 2005 season, he had every intention of making that his final full-time season in Cup. But situations involving Roush Racing played out in a way that meant car owner Jack Roush asked Martin for another year.
Martin agreed to come back for 2006, reluctantly. He didn’t do it because he wanted money from a second "farewell" tour. He didn’t do it because he knew he’d miss the attention paid to a Nextel Cup driver. He did it because Roush, his longtime friend and somebody with whom Martin has gone to racing war with year after year, asked him to.
As much Martin respects and cares about Roush, his return for this season was not an easy decision for him to make. That’s because he knew some people would regard it as going back on his word about ’05 being his last full Cup season. Martin’s word means something to him, but in the end his loyalty to Roush won out.
This year, people keep talking about how Todd Kluever isn’t ready to take over in the No. 6 Fords next year. For that reason, many of these folks assume Martin will come back in that car again in 2007. It might happen. Roush talked Martin back into the car this year. But that’s not what Martin says he wants to do.
For as long as he’s been talking about the end of his full-time Cup career, though, Martin has been quick to correct anybody who uses the word "retirement." He has consistently said that he would be available to run Cup races if, say, another Roush driver got injured and need a fill-in driver. Martin has also said he’d love to run a number of Cup races, 12 or so, held in conjunction with Truck Series races provided the right kind of deal – from both a sponsorship and potential performance standpoint – could be put together.
That’s is precisely what Martin is saying now, too. He pointed out last week at Watkins Glen that if Kluever does drive the No. 6 next year, that likely means Martin can’t drive for Roush Racing in those select races next year. That fact complicates the scenario, but it doesn’t mean that Martin is "waffling" on anything.
Mark Martin shoots about as straight anybody you’ll ever find inside the gates of a NASCAR track. People simply just need to listen to him a little more carefully.


Anonymous said...

He is a chump and needs to retire

Anonymous said...

Thanks for that insight Jeremy.

Anonymous said...

Mark Martin...chump.

Right. You're the one BLOGGING at 11am on a Monday.