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Martin won't drive No. 6 car in 2007
The president of Roush Racing ends speculation about the veteran.
By TIMES WIRES
Published August 27, 2006
BRISTOL, Tenn. - The on-again, off-again nature of Mark Martin's plans for 2007 took another turn Saturday.
NASCAR.com reported Saturday that Martin will not drive a Roush Racing Ford next season in Nextel Cup, at least not full time.
"You won't see Mark Martin in a Roush Racing owned (Cup) program," team president Geoff Smith told the Web site at Bristol Motor Speedway before Saturday's Sharpie 500. "All our programs are sold out with the drivers we currently have. It was great of Mark to run this year.
"We're expecting Mark to be the lead guy in the (NASCAR) truck series. That sponsorship is in place. We've got a couple of details to work out with Ford Motor Company, but that's where we expect to be. If he does more than that, it'll be supplemental."
Martin, 47, returned to run the Nextel Cup series this season in the No. 6 Roush Ford after initially indicating that he wanted to retire after last season.
A chain of events, which included Kurt Busch leaving Roush, left Martin's seat open. Team owner Jack Roush, Martin's longtime friend and his employer since 1988, convinced Martin to drive one more season.
Martin said early this year that this would be his last season in the Cup series and that he would focus on the truck series, which has a shorter schedule (25 races this season compared to 36 plus two non-points races in Cup).
But the past couple of weeks, Martin began addressing the possibility of returning for another Cup season, even a partial one.
"My primary focus is still to do the full (trucks) schedule, and I would be very interested in an additional 10- to 12-race Nextel Cup schedule," Martin said Aug. 19. "We just don't know what that car would be at this point."
Todd Kleuver is scheduled to take over the No. 6 car in 2007. He is running a full Busch Series schedule this season and is 18th in points with no top-five finishes and two top 10s in 25 races this season.
"We're not satisfied with the aggregate performance level of that Busch team Todd's been with," Smith said. "When Jack does evaluations, he evaluates everything - including the driver."
Smith said Saturday that Martin would not race even part-time in the No.6 car next season.
"Mark has not been a consideration for the 6, except only in the certain marketing scenarios early in the year that ended up not being in the equation," Smith said.
Martin, who has 35 Cup series victories, was fourth in points coming into Saturday's race.
Evernham shoots back: Ray Evernham celebrated his 49th birthday before the start of Saturday night's race at Bristol.
"I'm having a great day," the car owner said. "I finally feel like I have a team again."
Evernham is moving forward after his ugly split with driver Jeremy Mayfield. He fired Mayfield this months, ending a four-year relationship.
Both sides made serious accusations during a brief court battle, with Evernham claiming Mayfield deliberately was tanking this season. Mayfield claimed Evernham spent too much time with developmental driver Erin Crocker and alleged Evernham was having "a close personal relationship" with the 25-year-old Crocker.
"I don't care what people say about my personal life, I really don't and I won't discuss it," Evernham said. "But when you question my work ethic, that's ridiculous. That's what makes me mad. Don't ever claim that I am not giving everything I have to this company."
LATE FRIDAY: Matt Kenseth drove past Kevin Harvick with 15 laps left to win the Busch Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway. As Harvick led the Food City 250, Kenseth's first few attempts to pass him were thwarted by caution flags. But Kenseth finally got a long enough run to make his move shortly after a restart. Harvick finished second and extended his points lead to 519 over Carl Edwards.