Mark Martin returning to Roush Fenway Racing in unique role

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Legendary NASCAR driver Mark Martin is returning to Roush Fenway Racing.

But don’t expect Martin, 55, to get back behind the wheel any time soon.

Rather, he’ll be helping those RFR drivers who will be behind the wheel themselves.

The organization announced Thursday morning that Martin will assume a newly-created role as driver development coach.

“The thing that always stood out about Mark was his unmatched drive to win,” team co-owner Jack Roush said in a media release. “Mark put us on the map and I am pleased to have him as a part of our team again.

“Mark is not only a good friend but he’s also a fierce competitor and I truly admire his passion and dedication to racing. I have no question that you will be able to see his influence on our young drivers. He understands what it takes to win and to be able to do that on a consistent basis and he’ll be a great asset to have back within our organization.”

Martin, who has not raced this season but also has not ever officially said he’s retired, will return to the team that he spent almost two decades with.

Martin was the first driver Roush hired when he formed Roush Racing – which eventually would become RFR – back in 1988.

Martin earned 82 wins under the Roush banner: 35 in Sprint Cup and 47 in Nationwide, as well as four runner-up finishes in the yearly Cup championship.

“I’m excited to return to Roush Fenway Racing,” Martin said. “It feels like I’m going home to where I belong.

“I was fortunate to help build this team from the beginning and it’s very humbling to be a part of Jack’s team again. When Jack first hired me in 1988 we didn’t talk about salary or benefits or perks, we talked about testing, tires and putting the right personnel into place to win on the track. That commitment is what stood out to me then and it’s still what stands out to me today.”

Martin is expected to work with RFR’s younger drivers, including 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, two-time Nationwide Series champ Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and rookies Chris Buescher and Ryan Reed. He’ll also help, if needed, veteran Greg Biffle.

“Roush Fenway has an abundance of young, talented drivers and I’m looking forward to working with each of them going forward,” Martin said. “I am very proud of what Jack and I were able to accomplish together and I am excited to expand on those accomplishments.

“I understand what it takes to succeed in this business and appreciate the hard work, dedication and focus required to compete at the highest level week in and week out. We have a great crop of young drivers. … It will be a key part of my job to help them develop their skills behind the wheel and get the most of their exceptional ability.”

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Former 5-time ALMS and Le Mans-winning team owner Dave Maraj killed in accident

Photo courtesy Dave Maraj Facebook page
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Well-known sports car team owner and automobile dealership owner Dave Maraj was killed Saturday night in a boating accident in Florida, according to SportsCar365.com.

Maraj’s Champion Racing teams won five consecutive American Le Mans Series championships from 2004 through 2008, and also captured the overall win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2005, the last American team to do so in the iconic sports car race.

IMSA President Scott Atherton released the following statement mourning Maraj’s passing:

Dave Maraj. Photo courtesy IMSA.

“All of us at IMSA are shocked and saddened by the news of Dave Maraj’s passing. As a team owner in the American Le Mans Series, Dave and his Champion Racing organization were the epitome of professionalism and excellence, as their five series championships and 24 Hours of Le Mans victory will attest.

“Dave was a tremendous competitor and a great friend to all in the paddock throughout his time in our sport. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dave’s family and friends and to all of his associates at Champion Motors.”

Maraj was a very successful automobile dealership owner, most notably Champion Motors and Champion Porsche in Pompano Beach, Florida, the latter considered the No. 1 Porsche dealer in the U.S.

Details of how Maraj died have not been released.

Maraj sold his racing operation after the 2008 season and devoted himself to his Porsche and Audi auto dealerships, as well as competitive sailing.