By admin | May 23, 2009
By Richard Allen
Those who follow racing have speculated for some time as to when Mark Martin will retire for good. It was widely believed he was going to hang it up after the 2006 season. Instead, he simply switched teams and settled into a part-time schedule.
This season Martin decided to go full time racing again after joining up with Hendrick Motorsports. Recently Martin announced that in 2010 he would again run the full schedule. With the success he is having, there could be even more racing left in this somewhat aged driver.
One driver who has never been at the center of retirement speculation, until recently, is Jeff Gordon. However, the four-time champion has struggled with a bad back throughout the season.
Gordon has always been one of those drivers who looked as if he had just been out for a leisurely Sunday drive after turning 500 laps at Bristol or Martinsville, or 600 miles at Charlotte. However, the driver of #24 has not had that same fresh look about him of late.
After a seemingly mild crash in the Sprint All Star race last weekend Gordon appeared to climb from his car very gingerly.
Hopefully, Gordon or no other driver will ever have a crash like the one he experienced in Las Vegas in 2008. But if he did, one has to wonder just how well he could recover from it. For that matter, one has to wonder what role that crash may have played in his current situation.
Some have gone so far as to speculate that Gordon could look to retire, at least from full time Sprint Cup racing, as soon as 2010. That is the year in which the contract between his longtime sponsor DuPont and Hendrick Motorsports is set to expire.
If anyone other than Jeff Gordon knows for sure when the 82 time race winner plans to retire, if he has ever even made such plans, they are not telling. However, his recent ailments have caused some to wonder.
Wouldnâ€™t it be something if Hendrick were to be looking for a driver to replace Gordon before looking for a driver to replace the 50 year old Martin? In this writer’s opinion it would be a shame if such a great driver had to end his career due to a reason not of his own choosing.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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