Longtime Sprint Cup mainstay Mark Martin continues to be competitive at stock car racing’s highest level. But the 54-year-old may be ready to move on.
Martin didn’t announce a retirement on Friday at Phoenix International Raceway, where he’ll continue his role as substitute for the injured Tony Stewart. But he did say that he’s “shot every inquiry down” about racing next season in Sprint Cup, the Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series.
“I’ve shot them down because I haven’t been interested in doing that,” said Martin according to the Associated Press. Martin will do off-season testing for Stewart-Haas Racing until Stewart gets the green light to race again.
But while he’ll continue to remain involved in the sport that he’s been a part of for so long, Martin is looking forward to what his future holds.
“My life is going to change and it’s going to open a new chapter, and I expect to have a lot broader windshield and be a lot less wound tight and tunnel-visioned,” he said.
Should this season be Martin’s last, it will be the end of a career that he can be proud of. Going into his 881st career Cup start at Phoenix this weekend, he’s earned 40 wins and 56 poles in NASCAR’s top tier of competition. He is also a five-time champion in the old International Race of Champions series.
Martin has likely earned the accolade of being the best driver ever to not win a Cup title. He’s come close on numerous occasions, however, logging five runner-up finishes in the standings. The most recent of those runner-ups came in 2009, when he returned to full-time action for Hendrick Motorsports after driving in a part-time role during the 2007 and 2008 seasons.
He drove for Michael Waltrip Racing part-time in 2012 and into 2013, but moved to Stewart-Haas following Stewart’s season-ending accident back in August during a sprint car race in Iowa. Shortly afterwards, MWR and SHR made a deal that enabled Martin to take over as Stewart’s primary relief driver.