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NASCAR Sprint Cup Series News: Mark Martin Looking To Fill Next Chapter - MRN.com

By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on May 19, 2014 | 12:28 P.M. EST


Mark Martin, talking with Dancia Patrick, says he's trying to figure out what he wants to do with his driving career over. (Photo: Dustin Long)


CONCORD, N.C. - Mark Martin sits on pit wall and looks at the Sprint Cup cars aligned before him.

In a career spanning four decades, this was a normal occurrence for Martin. Cars in line for qualifying and Martin nearby, but Friday was different.

Martin sat as a spectator. He wore a gray jacket over a polo shirt instead of driver’s uniform. He wore a cap instead of a helmet.

This marked the first time he’d been to a track since Daytona testing in January when he filled in for Tony Stewart. Martin hasn’t raced since last year’s finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway when he finished 19th and tweeted to fans “now it’s time to start a new chapter.’’

What that is, though, Martin still isn’t sure six month after his final race.

He said he was at Charlotte Motor Speedway to “stick my toe in and see if I want to come to the racetrack some and participate in some way or fashion, or if I just want to be a fan and find something else to direct my passion to.’’

While Martin - who ranks seventh with 56 Sprint Cup poles and 17th in series history with 40 wins - looks as if he could climb back into a car, he won’t.

“I don’t miss racing,’’ he said. “I don’t want to race cars anymore. I don’t want to. I am a fairly driven person, and I have to find something to drive and push me, so I’m just now starting to feel my way around and see what that wants to be.’’

As for what he’s done lately, Martin says, he’s spent time with family and living “a simple life.’’

The plan had been for Martin to be a driver coach at Stewart-Haas Racing, mainly working with Danica Patrick, before Martin stepped away.

Patrick was glad to see him this past weekend.

“He’s been not feeling so great throughout the beginning of the year and was intending to be around every weekend or most weekends, to sort of help out and fast-forward the learning curve and play a part as much as he could to help with that,’’ Patrick said. “It’s good to see him. He’s obviously great around (Charlotte), so it’s nice for him to come to this one.

“It’s nice to have one more driver on my side who has a ton of experience that can help me, especially one that’s not in the car that can see everything that’s going on and hear it. Every little bit helps.’’

Martin, 55, says he feels fine other than the effects of racing long before SAFER barriers, HANS devices and carbon fiber seats.

“Now I pay for it,’’ he said. “Been paying for it for a long time. Everybody goes through that.’’

Martin’s fierce determination had him in a car despite various injuries throughout his career.

He broke his left foot and ankle when a competitor slammed into the side of his car in 1980. Told by a doctor not to race the rest of the season, Martin was back a month later to continue his quest for a third consecutive ASA title. He raced at Daytona International Speedway in July 1999 about 24 hours after breaking his left wrist, a rib and bruising a knee in a crash. He had back surgery after the 1999 season, undergoing a lumbar fusion.

The biggest challenge, he says, is keeping up with the sport even after being away only a few months.

“The sport has already changed enough,’’ Martin said. “I used to know everything there was to know about it. I’m already behind.’’

He acknowledges that he could catch back up - if that’s what he wants to do.

“You’re asking more questions than I’m prepared to answer,’’ Martin said.

Suddenly, Patrick starts her car to qualify for the Sprint Showdown. The car’s guttural roar is a noise Martin has heard so often from inside the vehicle. Now, he’s getting used to hearing it from a distance. Patrick puts the car in gear and roars on to the track.

“I’m just kind of picking along,’’ Martin said, “trying to find my niche. I’ll figure out more.’’

He stops. The roar grows to a crescendo.

He looks ahead as Patrick races by.

Related Topics:
Danica Patrick, Mark Martin, NASCAR Sprint Cup, NASCAR
 

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Team Caliber. "Anything less is just a Toy"
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..since he left, I have no drive to watch any races..
 
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Evil Henchman
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I miss seeing him out there every week. He's a class act and was great for the sport. This article is a downer! I hope he doesn't go the way of Harry Gant and just disappear. I'd love to see him doing TV.
 

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It Sad Not To See Mark At The Track And Even More On The Race Track. I Think He Is Lost Since His Son Did Not Want To Be A Race Car Driver. Look At Bill Elliott With Chase. Mark Has No Purpose Anymore. Yes Its Sad But As A Long Time Mark Fan I Dont Want To See Him In A Car Again Doing Some Part Time Gig.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
It Sad Not To See Mark At The Track And Even More On The Race Track. I Think He Is Lost Since His Son Did Not Want To Be A Race Car Driver. Look At Bill Elliott With Chase. Mark Has No Purpose Anymore. Yes Its Sad But As A Long Time Mark Fan I Dont Want To See Him In A Car Again Doing Some Part Time Gig.
hes the drivers coach for danica that tony hired him to do
 

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Baltimore Orioles CraZy
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My favorite driver of all time. I cheer for other drivers now, but it's not that same without Mark. Sounds like things aren't going so great for him :(


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I think they should set up an annual Legends race for all drivers who have not raced in NASCAR for 5 years or more or over 55 years old and have a charity race like they had at Bristol twice, except they should use slower cars instead of the Pro Cup cars like they did the 2nd time and race them on one of the frontstretch ovals like Charlotte and several other tracks have (possibly rotating venues). If there is a safe way to race then I think fans would really enjoy it and it would be a great way to support local charities.
 

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Like to see Martin back in the truck series. Sure many of those teams would love his input. He doesn't have to race with the big teams, latch onto an up & comer. Make it mean something.

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Maybe its just me, but I get the impression that he's trying to convince himself not to race anymore, like its not ok for him to do it any longer. I hate it for him either way, sounds like things aren't going as well as he'd imagined.
 

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I remember reading a Martin interview years ago where he said he didn't really like the racing part of his job, but that he like the competition aspect. I suspect that his driving coach job doesn't necessarily satisfy that competitive hunger, because it's pretty much racing without the competition attatched.
 

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Team Caliber. "Anything less is just a Toy"
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I think he is just bored, having spent the last 'x' years always focused on racing, and the the switch is turned off, it's a hard thing to do..
 

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I'll bet he races again. He's trying to convince himself he's too old. I think if anyone could race competitively at 55, it's Martin.
 
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