“For nearly 40 years I have measured myself against the best stock car drivers of the era. It’s ben #1HellOfaRide.”
Before the final race of the year at Homstead-Miami Speedway, Mark Martin tweeted those words.
For 2014, the veteran will be stepping out of the driver’s seat to become an advisor at Stewart-Haas Racing.
“I’m kind of tired. I might not make the best decisions right now,” he said. “I’ll still have an opportunity to satisfy my competitive fire and still be able to be involved in the sport at whatever level I want to be. And we’ll let that kind of materialize as we move forward past Homestead.”
Martin says that he can still drive a racecar fast, but he also knows that he’s getting up there in age.
“I can feel it in everything I do – every time I get up and walk across the room, I can tell I’m not 35,” he said. “And anybody that says they can’t, I’d like to be sippin’ off some of their juice, because I can tell.”
Martin is not using the word retirement, though is saying this is a chance to open a new chapter in his career.
“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,” Martin said. “And I’m proud of that. But it’s time for me to open a new chapter and do some other things.”
SHR team owner Tony Stewart sees it as a good move for the entire organization heading into next year.
“I think Mark is a great liaison between us as drivers and the crew chiefs and Zippy,” Stewart said. “Mark’s got so much practical knowledge and experience. Mark is good with people and I think that is a lot of value to me. I think it’s a little easier for Mark to help Danica.
“But I think Mark can make me better. You’re crazy if you’re a driver and think you can’t learn and that you can’t be better. Having someone like Mark do that, if he sees I’m not driving in the corner hard enough or I’m arcing my entry too much or not enough, whatever. Mark can see that and tell you to think about this.”
When Danica Patrick was just starting her NASCAR career at JR Motorsports, she spent time with Martin for advice. She knows the benefit of having someone with his experience to lean on and looks forward to him being at SHR.
“I don’t think that you can ever have too much input,” Patrick commented. “Maybe from person to person they have different preferences to what they like, but I sure like it. I sure like hearing advice about what to do. It doesn’t mean you go out and implement every single thing and try every single thing, but there is going to be a situation that comes up and you are going to remember what somebody said and you are going to try it. So, I like asking a lot of questions.
“No different than me walking down pit lane last night for qualifying and stopping by Mark’s car and talking to him and asking what he is going to do for qualifying. Then we were just talking about working on things for next year and how nice it is when there is natural speed in the car and then you can work on little things to fine tune.”
She added that he’d be great to have not just from a driver’s perspective, but from a team prespective.
“He has seen a lot of different teams,” she continued. “That is a great perspective. He is there to ask driving questions, but he is also there to just help overall from a team perspective.”