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NASCAR NEWS 

Martin: Title not a factor in decision

Mark MartinMark Martin says his decision to run full-time again in 2010 has not been driven by a desire to have a further shot at winning his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title.

The 50-year-old veteran was initially scheduled to run in 26 races next year but this week Hendrick Motorsports announced he would run the entire season again, after agreeing to review their original deal.

Martin has never won a Cup title, but talking to reporters on Friday at Darlington Raceway, he insisted that his decision to race full-time next year is purely driven by his love for racing rather than a desire to give himself another opportunity to win the championship.

"I would still appreciate if you wouldn't write that I am coming back for one more shot at a championship," said Martin. "I did this because I love racing with all my heart. I love this race team and I am having a blast driving the racecar. That is why I made the decision.

"I just wouldn't sign up for that. It is what Rick (Hendrick) wanted to do to start with a year ago and I just wouldn't sign up for something and then wish I hadn't. We have proven over the first five or so races that all of that was good.

"After Phoenix was the first conversation I had and that conversation lasted five minutes would be a stretch. That was it. I had the conversation with Rick and it was probably less than five minutes. It was more like 60 seconds, you know. He said that was what he wanted to do and I said that was what I wanted to do and so here we are."

The Hendrick driver added that in the past he used to race focused on the championship, but that ultimately led him to retire briefly from full-time racing in 2007 and 2008, before deciding to return with Hendrick this year to run the entire season with a different approach.

"In l999 in July, on Friday night before the 400 on Saturday, I broke my wrist, a rib and my knee and I raced Saturday night," said Martin. "Not to say that I wouldn't have because that is what I wanted to do. But I did that because I wanted to win a championship.

"I raced for a year and a half with excruciating back pain. I would have done that anyway, but I did it, I never missed a practice session, I never missed a test session, I never missed anything, because I wanted to win a championship.

"I allowed that points thing to affect how I felt about racing because I focused on that more than I really realised how much I was."

Martin has finished second in the standings four times and has won 36 races over a 27-year span at the top level. He holds the record for most career wins in the Nationwide Series but has only run the whole season once.

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