One more year for Martin

Mark Martin has confirmed that the 2005 season will be his last full-time run in NASCAR's Nextel Cup series. He said his plans for 2006 were not yet firm but that the 2005 campaign, which he will call "My Salute to You", will be his last run at the championship

One more year for Martin

Martin, 45, added his name to a growing list of NASCAR superstars to announce retirement or a reduced schedule in the past year. Bill Elliott, now 49, announced a cut-back to cameo roles at the end of 2003. Rusty Wallace, 48, announced in September that he would stage a farewell tour in 2005 while Terry Labonte, 47, revealed Tuesday that he would run just 10 races each in 2005 and 2006.

Martin thanked those who made his stellar 17-year run in NASCAR possible. Martin has been described as the greatest driver never to win a NASCAR championship, although he has finished second a heartbreaking four times.

From 1988, when he returned to NASCAR with Roush's Ford-backed NASCAR program, to the present, Martin has finished top-10 in points in all but three seasons, including a run of 11 consecutive years in which he finished sixth or better. He has 34 career victories, the last coming at Dover in June. He currently is in the running for the NASCAR championship, standing fifth in the points.

In addition, Martin is the all-time leading winner in NASCAR's Busch Series, with 45 victories, nearly all of them coming in part-time campaigns with Roush.

Martin also has been instrumental in encouraging the careers of drivers such as Ted Musgrave and Matt Kenseth, 2003 NASCAR champion.

Martin, from Arkansas, attempted to migrate to NASCAR from ASA in 1981, on his own hook. Despite some striking success (two poles in his first five races), Martin was bankrupt by mid-1982 and returned to ASA, eventually regaining a foothold in Busch in 1987.

Ford helped broker the union of Martin and Roush in late 1987, with the duo making their debut in Cup in 1988. Martin scored his first Cup victory at Rockingham in fall 1989.

Roush has noted that Carl Edwards, promising Craftsman Truck chauffeur and current driver of Roush's unsponsored No. 99 car, would eventually take Martin's place in Roush's flagship No. 6, although that was not discussed Thursday.

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