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