By admin | September 7, 2010
By Richard Allen
Barring some unbelievable miracle, Mark Martin is not going to make the 2010 Chase for the Championship. And considering that 2009 was one of the most successful seasons in the Batesville, Arkansas driver’s career, that has to sting.
So for a driver who has accomplished so many things in racing aside from a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, what is there to race for over the remaining portion of a season in which a title is not a possibility?
Well, for Martin there is plenty to race for. Keep in mind that this is a driver who has already had his replacement named despite the fact that his current contract does not expire until the end of the 2011 season. Kasey Kahne was tapped to drive the Hendrick Motorsports #5 car even when Martin still had over 50 races remaining in his tenure aboard that ride.
Despite the fact that statements were made to the contrary by just about all parties involved, the move took on the appearance that HMS was trying to hurry the 51 year old driver out the door to make way for his younger and more marketable replacement. On more than one occasion this year Martin’s frustration with the situation has been made more than a little apparent.
What Martin has to race for over the next eleven races is the attention of his team. While everyone involved will no doubt say all the right things during Martin’s final year and a third at HMS, it is only human nature for people to look forward, especially when they already know such a major piece of the equation as who the next driver will be.
If Martin is able to win a race or two and is able to be a consistent front runner over these final races of 2010 then his crew will be able to stay focused on his needs rather than allow their minds to wander toward the needs of Kasey Kahne.
Should Martin flounder over these final races, his hopes for a championship run in 2011 could suffer a serious blow before the final checkered flag falls on 2010.
What does Mark Martin have to race for over the next eleven weeks? He is racing for to show his team that he, not Kasey Kahne, is their driver and that his needs in the #5 Chevrolet should be taken care of before all other considerations.
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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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