Hendrick Motorsports announced today that it will field racing legend Mark Martin this season in three NASCAR Busch Series events. Daytona International Speedway Hendrick Motorsports announced today that it will field racing legend Mark Martin...
Hendrick Motorsports announced today that it will field racing legend Mark Martin this season in three NASCAR Busch Series events. Daytona International Speedway
Hendrick Motorsports announced today that it will field racing legend Mark Martin this season in three NASCAR Busch Series events. Martin's schedule will kick off May 11 at Darlington, S.C., where he has posted eight of his 47 career Busch Series victories. The 48-year-old will make additional starts on Aug. 18 at Brooklyn, Mich., and the Nov. 17 season finale at Homestead, Fla.
The press conference featured Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports and drivers of the No. 5 Hendrick Autoguard Monte Carlo SS, Kyle Busch and Mark Martin:
"This is an exciting day for me. Mark Martin and I have been friends for 25 years. Henry Hyde got us together when I first got started and we almost put a deal together and then several times in the past we've come close. We've talked. When you look at your career and what you've tried to accomplish and the people you've been around - there are legends in the sport - there are some legends who are still racing and I think I've got both ends of it here, a young guy and a guys who has been around for a few years. We're bringing one of our companies, Hendrick Autoguard, on board in the Busch Series with Mark Martin and Kyle Busch. To have an opportunity, I'd say it's more like a privilege to have a guy like Mark Martin to drive one of our Busch cars. Hopefully part of our resume will be that we've been able to win a Busch race with Mark Martin. We've got 6,000 employees in the dealerships that are really excited about this. They are big Kyle Busch fans. Everybody is a Mark Martin fan.
"When Kyle and I used to get to the race track and I'd wonder if Mark Martin was running the race. Hopefully we didn't see his car there because for many years in the Busch Series if you saw the No. 66 car there, that mean we were racing for second. Our organization is excited. We're going to use the car in our dealerships around the country when we're not racing.
"Mark and I started about this when he moved over to Ginn Racing this year because we do the engines for that team and offer some other support and we just thought this would be something that would be pretty neat before we quit that we'll have an opportunity to do that. So I can't wait to walk out on pit road and see Mark Martin's name on the roof of one of our cars."
HOW DID ALL OF THIS COME ABOUT?
"Rick and I have been friends for 25 years. We've talked several different times about working together. As this thing started to materialize with Ginn Racing, it just sort of made sense. It's an opportunity for him, but it's really an opportunity for me. It means every bit as much or more to me than it does to Rick. You only go around once in life and I drove for Jack Roush an awfully long time and to have an opportunity to race with the incredible people at Hendrick Motorsports and have their support is a real special opportunity for me.
"I was telling Rick that I was going to have to get with the guys on the No. 5 car that they bring me an awfully special race car because if Kyle ain't winning in it, I'm not going to be able to either. These young guys are keeping me on my toes and that's part of what makes it fun is the challenge. I have an enormous respect for Kyle's skill and ability and I think most of you know that I've been a fan of the new and up and coming drivers for a long time. It's a special opportunity for me to get to participate in all this. I did get a menu of choices and Darlington was on there. I think I've won there before in a Busch car, I'm not sure. So the pressure is on. It's going to be fun. It's going to be something to put in the history book for Rick and me."
NOT ONLY IS MARK MARTIN GOING TO BE A TEAMMATE, BUT HE'S ALSO KIND OF A FAN OF YOURS. HOW DOES THAT FEEL?
"It's an awesome opportunity for me to be associated with such a great aspect of this sport with Mark Martin and being able to not only race alongside of him, but with him and be a part of Hendrick Motorsports together. He's always been a fan of the Busch brothers I guess. Kurt (Busch) has been able to work with him. For me it's been extra special in that respect. I'm 21 so I've still got plenty to learn. I'd be more than willing to learn from Mark anything he can teach me. It's going to be a whole new venture. All the guys at the shop are pumped up. There are a lot of new race cars being built. We had a great test at Las Vegas. I'm looking forward to running here this weekend in Daytona, but getting to California and on to our hometown in Vegas for the first three."
WHAT IS YOUR SCHEDULE FOR 2007?
"It's 22 with Ginn Racing. It's two with Roush Racing in the Busch Series. It's three with the Hendrick Autoguard program after I'm finished with the Roush Busch stuff. And then we're doing six Truck races. The first will be next weekend in California in the Bad Boy Mowers No. 21 truck. Presently the Bad Boys sponsorship is for California. We're still working on the details of the others."
ON MEDIA DAY, YOU SAID YOU FELT BETTER THAN EVER BEFORE. HOW DO YOU FEEL NOW?
"This has been a thrill. We've known we were going to do this for quite a long time. I've been anxious to announce it because that's been something we've kind of been holding back. I'm real excited about it. This is one of the most exciting things I've done in my career. It ranks right up there with anything that I've ever done to be able to be involved with Hendrick Motorsports and the history that they have and to be able to see their excitement putting behind it. But it's a lot of history. That No. 21 - it isn't a Cup car, but it still means much more to me than it might to Kyle. Someone who is as young as Kyle, he doesn't totally grasp what the Wood Bros meant to NASCAR racing. That's also something that's real special to me. But to be real honest with you, the thing that I'm really excited about is just working with Ginn Racing. They've given me the opportunity to run the U.S. Army car, but also to do everything that I want in racing. I have a dream come true right there with that organization to be able to do what I want and drive for Rick and to drive the Wood's truck and to be able to work with Ricky Carmichael and the other development drivers and have them racing in my cars and on and on. I'm living a dream."
HOW DID YOU MANAGE TO KEEP THIS A SECRET?
"I don't know. It's hard for us to explain what this means. It really is because you have people you like in the sport and people you respect in the sport. And I can't tell you how many times I've been to a race track with a Busch car knowing that you couldn't beat this guy (Martin). I remember the first race that Kyle sat down in the Busch car in Charlotte. If we'd put four tires on he would have won the race. To see talented guys in the sport that have had a great career to want to do something with you and together you say this would really be neat and you build a promotion around it with your people. But in 1984, when I showed up down here with All Star racing on my car, I had City Chevrolet on the back of it and that's all the sponsorship I had. That was my Chevrolet store. And to bring out the AutoGuard program gives our 6,000 employees an opportunity to feel a part of something. So we have a lot of energy around and that's very important to us. It's very important to our people in our shop. We want to win. We're not just doing it to do it. I want to have a win in the column with Mark Martin's name on it."
-credit: gm racing