​Mark Martin: NASCAR says ‘goodbye’ to Martin​​

November 10, 2021

Mark Martin has raced for 31 NASCAR seasons and plans to retire from his career in the seat next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway. However, Martin is unwilling to use the word “retire,” and has no racing plans for next year.

After 40 wins in NASCAR’s premier Sprint Cup Series, 49 more in the Nationwide Series and five championships in the now-defunct International Race of Champions, he said it was “time to open a new chapter.”

Martin plans to stay active in the sport by helping Stewart-Haas Racing with testing next season, including driving Tony Stewart’s No. 14 car in preseason Daytona activities while the team owner continues to heal from a broken right leg.

“We’ve known this for awhile, we just kept it to ourselves and to our friends and stuff,” Martin said of his decision. “If I get through Homestead without a scratch, it will be pretty cool. It will be one tremendous career that we did some really great things and I got out of it without paying a big price.”

Martin, a lock for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, has been known as one of racing’s greats on and off the track. He finished second in the Cup standings five times but never won a championship or the Daytona 500.

When he finished third in this year’s 500, he said, he drove away with a smile on his face knowing it would be his last.

Martin said he was excited about the future and not scared to get out of the car because he’s “100% comfortable and ready.” He could work with Danica Patrick and SHR’s other drivers to help get the program turned around, though he said nothing formally has been signed yet.

Stewart is expected to return in the No. 14 Chevrolet for the Great American Race.

“I’ll manage to stay competitive (by being associated with SHR) and have great people around me and great cars for longer than anybody in the sport has for a long time,” Martin said. “I’m not having to quit before I’m ready. I squeezed every ounce of the good stuff out of my driving career.”

Despite those definitive-sounding statements, Martin deflected questions about whether next week’s race would be his final one. He said it was “not of any major consequence” even if it was and said he had no interest in a farewell tour. Martin referenced George Jones’ I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair.