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Not looking like such a pleasure for Mark Martin these days

By admin | June 15, 2010

By Richard Allen

Last year, Mark Martin was often quoted as saying, “It’s such a pleasure driving their stuff” referring to his ride at Hendrick Motorsports. Lately, it hasn’t looked like such a pleasure.

In the last six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races Martin has had a 4th place in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, but beyond that, no other finish has been better than 15th. And more, he has been uncharacteristically inconsistent this season. He has had six top-10s but at the same time, he has had five finishes outside the top-20.

In Michigan the thing that was most often pointed out about him was that nothing was being pointed out about him.

Last year, Martin won five races. So far in 2010, he has not scored a win.

But it’s not just the performance on the track that may be taking the pleasure out of driving for HMS. His current employers have already signed the driver they want to take his place even though his contract, a contract he signed less than 12 months ago, does not expire until the end of the 2011 season.

Published reports have stated that Martin actually suggested that Kasey Kahne be the one to take his place. That said, although he seems to be too nice of a guy to say so, the questions about his future and the signing of his successor by HMS have to be annoying.

With all that, Martin still sits 12th in the Sprint Cup standings. With eleven races to go until the cutoff for the Chase for the Championship, staying in that top-12 is vital if he is to win his first championship. However, he will obviously have to be running better and more consistently if there is to be any chance of a title.

So far in 2010, Mark Martin’s season has been a roller coaster ride with some pretty steep ups and downs. Trouble is, he is more noted for being steady and even keeled. He doesn’t seem like the type of guy who enjoys roller coasters.

Follow @RacingWithRich on twitter.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.

Topics: Articles |

10 Responses to “Not looking like such a pleasure for Mark Martin these days”

  1. Richard in N.C. Says:
    June 16th, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    I have an immense amount of respect for Mark Martin, but I have been a racing fan long enough that I have wondered this year whether or not time might have finally started to catch up with Mark just enough to begin reducing his ability - it has to happen sometime. It amazes me that I’ve seen no one write about the possibility that time might have finally started to catch up to Mark, but I presume it is a mark of the high regard in which he is held that no one wants to talk about it. I take Mark at his word that he is fully in agreement with Hendrick’s deal with Kahne.

  2. JR Says:
    June 16th, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    I recently read a quote from Mark concerning his feelings on “The Chase” format. When asked if changes should be made, his reply was “Go for it!” While I also have respected Mark as a driver for a long time, I don’t have much respect for his opinion about “The Chase”. Since the changes mentioned included increasing the number of drivers who would qualify for the Chase (otherwise known as the Junior provision), I’ll conclude that Mark favors that change. I always felt that Mark was a racer but his comments tell me he’s pretty much just like the rest…bobble head drivers who nod yes to whatever NASCAR management proposes, you know, “whatever is good for the SHOW”.

  3. sylvia richardson Says:
    June 16th, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Mark is a very honest man. Now whats wrong with Mark this yr. is nothing but {OLD RICK} He took a very importion {THINGS FROM MARK AND GAVE IT 2 JR.} MARK I SAY OUTSIDE OF CARL IS IN BETTER SHAPE THAN ANY DRIVER OUT THERE.Can Mark make the chase? Can 42 to others make that silly chase? At this point who knows??????

  4. Clay Says:
    June 16th, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    No one can convince me that in six months Mark has lost his ability to be competitive. There is something definitely amiss on that team. I listen to the scanner every race and something just isn’t right and I don’t believe it’s Alan Gustafson. Alan’s calls this year, with pit strategy, has help the team’s finishes. I have been a Mark Martin fan since his ASA days and last year was great for Mark’s fans to see him win, I’m truly hurt as a fan to see the results this year but not in the corner that it’s Mark or Alan’s fault.

  5. sylvia richardson Says:
    June 16th, 2010 at 9:40 pm


  6. mkrcr Says:
    June 16th, 2010 at 10:07 pm

    Only thing wrong with Mark this year is that he is finding out what it’s like to dance with the devil. Hendrick will do things within that organization that suit him and NA$CAR, and them alone. He doesn’t give a rat’s ass about anything beyond the money. Gordons pissed? ‘Cause most of his stuff went to JJ for the Glory Four. The rest went to Jr. Mark should be pissed. His stuff has gone to Jr. Why? ‘Cause if Jr keeps failing, like he will, his popularity ($$$$$$$$$$) will fade and RH will lose a cash cow. Perhaps Danica will pick up the slack.

  7. Richard in N.C. Says:
    June 16th, 2010 at 10:45 pm

    Maybe there’s another explanation, but age is going to catch up with Mark at some point - maybe it hasn’t yet. I’ve been an R. Petty fan since the 1960’s and, no matter what anyone thinks of him, DW was a whale of a driver in his prime, but age finally caught up with both. With all the good drivers out there today, loss of only a slight edge can make a big difference and the Hendrick cars don’t seem to have the same edge over the field they seemed to have last year.

  8. Clay Says:
    June 17th, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Obviously age will eventually matter, even in Mark’s case but age in it’s natural stage does not fall off that quickly without some mitigating factor ie serious injury, or health issue. Now I’m not one of those conspiracy people like 911 was an inside job but it does make you wonder. Mark came right in and started winning races, as previously noted that put a negative perspective on Dale Jr’s. ability and also Jeff Gordon (not that I’m questioning Jeff’s ability, you don’t win four champions by luck) as I recall he only won one race last year. Wow put that in perspective and that puts a monkey wrench in everything. You simply can’t have the old man come in and make the four time champion and NASCAR’s most popular driver look bad.

  9. Richard in N.C. Says:
    June 17th, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    I’m a Dale, Jr. fan and have a lot of respect for Gordon, but Mark has been making a lot of people look bad for years. I could be wrong, but I believe Mark had a better 2009 than Smoke and Mark says Tony is the best driver out there - and Tony had Hendrick equipment in 2009. Mark is 12th in points now and just a small fall-off can make a big difference in Cup.

  10. Not a Jr. Fan in NM Says:
    June 23rd, 2010 at 8:03 am

    The biggest change that has affected Mark from being consistent is the spoiler change. The former spoiler worked very well for Mark and HMS. But when they made that change, all of a sudden Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin as well as a host of other cars have come to life! Perhaps the change is good for the sport and HMS won’t take a majority of the wins. But as a Mark Martin fan it has taken away from his consistency. Once Mark and Alan figure out the spoiler, they’ll make a good run of top 5’s, so keep your fingers crosses.