When the checkered flag waved to end the NASCAR season at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 17, it may have also marked the end of an era. One of the most well liked and most respected drivers in the garage area has no plans to continue racing.
Mark Martin says his career is over.
While Martin has not used the word “retired,” but he says he is finished racing. Martin plans to test for the injured Tony Stewart this offseason, but says that’s it.
“I don’t have any racing scheduled for 2014 and haven’t had,” Martin said at Phoenix Int’l Raceway prior to the penultimate race of the season. “I do, however, have an undefined role at Stewart-Haas (Racing). The major definition is I’ll do his (Stewart’s) preseason testing.
Martin, who has driven for several teams during his NASCAR career, made his name with Roush Fenway Racing where he spent 19 years while winning 35 races for team owner Jack Roush.
Mark also drove for Ginn Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Dale Earnhardt Inc., Michael Waltrip Racing and Tony Stewart Racing where he concluded the 2013 subbing for Stewart, who broke his leg in a sprint car crash in August.
Martin has put up some impressive numbers during his 30-plus-year NASCAR career with 40 Sprint Cup wins and 271 top-five finishes. He also scored an impressive 49 Nationwide Series victories in only 236 starts. Martin also won seven Camping World Truck Series races in 25 starts.
Martin has often been called “the best driver to never win a NASCAR championship,” finishing second in the championship chase five times. Perhaps Martin’s best chance to be champion was 1990. Martin was leading the points race, but his Roush Ford was found to have an illegal carburetor spacer following a race at Richmond Int’l Raceway Martin was penalized 46 points and lost the title by 26 points to Dale Earnhardt.
Martin finished second in the standings in 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2009.
Martin reportedly has an undefined role at Stewart-Haas Racing for next season.
“I won’t be in the Daytona 500 (next year),” said Martin, who never won the Daytona 500. “I ran third in the Daytona 500 in 2013. That felt good and I knew that that was my last Daytona 500.”
The Arkansas native first made a name for himself racing in the American Speed Ass’n, where he won four ASA championships while battling the likes of Rusty Wallace, Dick Trickle, Bob Senneker and Mike Eddy.
Martin then drove for six different NASCAR team owners from 1981 through 1987 before landing with Roush Racing in 1988.
“It is hard to believe that I’ve lived this dream,” Martin said at Homestead. “I’m so fortunate. I got two chances at it. I got a chance at it and had success and failed, and had to go and start my career all over again and spend several years getting back up on my feet and getting a second opportunity in NASCAR. It is really hard to believe. I am still — deep down inside — I’m still the kid from Arkansas that got the huge thrill the first time I went to Daytona as a spectator to watch the Daytona 500. I wasn’t even a teenager yet. I never dreamed I would be able to do the things that I’ve done and to have the success that I’ve had. It’s been a dream. Living a dream.”
Martin is well respected by drivers throughout the motorsports world. Three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart wrote Martin a letter on his Facebook page, “When I first began my NASCAR career in 1996, you took me under your wing and showed me what it took to be successful. I’m honored that your last scheduled NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race came in my race car, the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet. You provided stability to Stewart-Haas Racing in a time of uncertainty, and I’m proud that you’ll be a part of our organization for many years to come.”