Mark Martin not planning to race next season

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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.

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III