Martin makes comeback with Hendrick
|By Diego Mejia||Friday, July 4th 2008, 19:37 GMT|
Hendrick Motorsports announced the signing of a two-year deal with 49-year-old Mark Martin, which will see him return full-time to the Sprint Cup series for another shot at the title in 2009.
Martin, a 35-time race winner at NASCAR's top level, will replace Casey Mears at the wheel of the No. 5 Chevrolet, running the full schedule next year including the Bud Shootout and the All-Star Challenge.
In 2010 he will run a limited schedule of 26 races as he has done for the past two-seasons, sharing his seat with a yet-to-be-determined second driver. He will also compete in the two non-points event of the final year of his contract with Hendrick Motorsports.
"Mark is an incredible racer and one of the classiest guys around," said team owner Rick Hendrick. "He is a driver who makes everyone around him better, and our entire company is going to benefit from his presence."
Martin, a four-time runner up in the Sprint Cup series over 20 full seasons since 1982, will probably have his last shot at winning the title at age 50, hoping to become the oldest driver ever to win the championship.
He returns to drive full-time in the Cup series probably for the last time in his career after running limited schedules in 2006 and 2007 for Ginn Racing and DEI respectively.
"I feel very fortunate to have this chance to win races and go after a championship with Hendrick Motorsports," Martin said. "Coming back full time wasn't something we planned, but driving the No. 5 car, with all its history, was an impossible opportunity to pass up.
"Rick and I have enjoyed a great relationship over the years, and we've always talked about doing this. Now it's working out, and we're both excited about the possibilities."
Martin will work alongside crew chief Alan Gustafson with whom he has worked in the past in the Nationwide Series.