Since making his NASCAR debut in 1981, Mark Martin has competed in more than 1,000 races. Both in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, Martin has carved out a legacy as one of the most accomplished and popular drivers in the history of professional racing, all the while achieving unparalleled longevity.
Now 54, Martin has declined the opportunity to race in 2014.
According to Lee Spencer of Fox Sports, Martin will not be driving during the 2014 NASCAR season. He will maintain a role in racing, but the legendary figure will not be getting behind the wheel for any sanctioned events.
Still, Martin insists that the end of his driving career doesn't signal retirement.
“I don’t have any racing scheduled for 2014 and haven’t had,” Martin said at Phoenix International Raceway. “I do, however, have an undefined role at Stewart-Haas [Racing]. The major definition is I’ll do his [Tony Stewart’s] preseason testing."
“Just like whether or not I’m retiring is not really important. I’m not sure if you’re still working if you’re really retiring. I’m just saying I don’t have anything lined up to race for next year.”
Regardless of what Martin does, he's carved out a legacy as one of the greatest drivers to ever step into a NASCAR automobile. He owns 40 career Sprint Cup victories, 49 in the Nationwide Series and another seven in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series to give him a grand total of 96 wins.
Where does Mark Martin rank all time?
After spending more than 30 years mastering his craft, Martin is now preparing for a new career path.
Spencer reports that Martin will serve in an undefined role for Stewart-Haas Racing. As previously alluded to, he will be doing the preseason testing for Tony Stewart's cars, which should open doors for an expanded role within the organization.
Until then, all we have to go on is Martin insisting that he's not done in racing.
Stewart-Haas Racing has a cast of drivers that consists of Stewart, Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick. None is inexperienced, but all possess championship aspirations that Martin's presence can only help to improve.
Unfortunately for his masses of fans, his role as a supporter is all we'll see in 2014. Fans will inevitably hold out hope until Martin officially announces his retirement, but with a full year away, it seems Martin is essentially hanging up the proverbial boots.
Regardless, it has been a magnificent career for Martin throughout the years.