Mark Martin 'going home' to Roush Fenway
July 31, 2014, Zack Albert, NASCAR.com
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Roush Fenway Racing announced Thursday that Mark Martin, who helped launch the team to success in NASCAR's big leagues, has rejoined the operation as a driver development coach.
Martin, who scored all but five of his 40 wins in NASCAR's premier series with car owner Jack Roush, first broadcast the news from his Twitter account.
In his new role, Martin is in line to work with second-year driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne, who will compete in his first full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2015. Bayne, 23, will use the No. 6, the car number that became synonymous with Martin and Roush from the late-1980s to the mid-2000s. Roush Fenway also fields a trio of young drivers in the NASCAR Nationwide Series with Bayne, 21-year-old Chris Buescher and 20-year-old Ryan Reed.
"I'm excited to return to Roush Fenway Racing, as it feels like I'm going home to where I belong," Martin said in a release issued by the team. "I was fortunate to help build this team from the beginning and it's very humbling to be a part of Jack's team again. When Jack first hired me in 1988 we didn't talk about salary or benefits or perks; we talked about testing, tires and putting the right personnel into place to win on the track. That commitment is what stood out to me then and it's still what stands out to me today.
"Nobody does a better job at developing young talent than Jack Roush. Roush Fenway has an abundance of young, talented drivers and I'm looking forward to working with each of them going forward. I am very proud of what Jack and I were able to accomplish together and I am excited to expand on those accomplishments."
Martin, 55, had previously been in a consulting role with Stewart-Haas Racing, the last team he drove for in the Sprint Cup Series. Martin ran 12 of the final 13 races last season as a fill-in for driver/co-owner Tony Stewart, who suffered severe leg injuries in a sprint car crash last August that sidelined him for the remainder of 2014.
Roush Fenway announced next year's driver lineup Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with Stenhouse, Bayne and veteran Greg Biffle completing the roster. Carl Edwards, who will not return to the team, indicated he had a deal in place elsewhere for the 2015 season.
Martin made 882 starts in NASCAR's top series over 31 seasons, finishing second in the championship standings five times. After competing on and off for various team owners in the early and mid-1980s, he landed with Roush's single-car outfit in the 1988 season. Together, Martin and Roush won 35 times in Sprint Cup, 41 times in the Nationwide Series and seven times in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as Roush's racing operation grew into a multicar empire.
"The thing that always stood out about Mark was his unmatched drive to win," Roush said. "Mark put us on the map and I am pleased to have him as a part of our team again. Mark is not only a good friend but he's also a fierce competitor and I truly admire his passion and dedication to racing. I have no question that you will be able to see his influence on our young drivers. He understands what it takes to win and to be able to do that on a consistent basis and he'll, once again, be a great asset to have back within our organization."
Their successful partnership lasted until 2006, when Martin dialed back to a part-time racing schedule. From 2007 to 2013, Martin competed for Ginn Racing, Dale Earnhardt Inc., Michael Waltrip Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing on a part-time basis. But that span also included full-time seasons with Hendrick Motorsports from 2009-11, including a five-win campaign and a final rank of second in Sprint Cup points in '09.
Before the next-to-last race of the 2013 season, Martin announced that he would not be racing in 2014 though he shied away from the word "retirement."
"The garage is full of drivers who are on their game, and I've gotten all the good out of mine. I've squeezed every ounce of it out, and no one can say that I didn't," Martin said at Phoenix International Raceway. "I worked really, really hard the last 10 years to continue to be a formidable opponent in the garage, and from time to time when stuff was right, I was able to do it. And I'm proud of that. But it's time for me to open a new chapter and do some other things."