Mark Martin is Making Rick Hendrick Sweat

Kelly CrandallSenior Writer IFebruary 10, 2009

Next to Carl Edwards, Mark Martin is most likely the second most fit driver in NASCAR. At fifty years of age Martin still has a regular and intense workout schedule. One of the reasons he is still racing and is more than ready to run a full-time schedule.

When Martin joined Hendrick Motorsports everyone knew that he would have an influence over the entire organization and every driver and even owner Rick Hendrick himself said that he would make them all better.

Now he's making them slimmer.

"I was talking to Mark one day and he came by the bus and he sat for an hour and a half and I was eating Oreos and I don’t know what else, and he said, ‘Man, you ought to eat better,’ ” Hendrick said. “And then I started listening to him talk about how he was eating and working out, and it really inspired me."

Since then Hendrick has started working out and he went to the same doctor that prescribed him medication for leukemia, which he was diagnosed with in 1996, asking about a fitness program.

“I had seen a TV show that the doctor was saying, ‘You can be 45 years old and have a 60-year-old body or you can be 60 years old and have a 45-year-old body. It’s up to you.’"

But Hendrick did admit that he used to look the other way on working out "I’ve always been using kind of a pink slip saying, ‘I’m kind of old and I’ve been through a lot, and I really can’t work out as hard as you guys can,’” Hendrick said. “And the doctor told my trainer, ‘Oh, you can go at it. You can’t hurt him.’"

However, when Martin heard about that, he didn't like it and now Hendrick has lost 20 pounds. Although he admits that "I still get into ice cream and cookies every now and then."

Mark Martin's fitness has not only started to affect Rick Hendrick, his new teammate Jeff Gordon has even started to try it out. "If you listen to him [Martin], he could be an unbelievable motivational speaker because he talks about what your body needs,” Hendrick said. “And Jeff [Gordon] is working out. He and I had lunch—grilled fish—yesterday, and he was talking about how much better he felt. So Mark has got us all [working].”

Hendrick plans to continue working out and slimming down as does Mark Martin, just don't expect them to be seen together and become workout bodies. Hendrick says he won't be go into the same room as Martin just yet.

"I’m not going to do that yet,” Hendrick said with a laugh. “I’ve got to have a couple of more months.”