Window of Opportunity Closing: Will 2009 Be Mark Martin's Year?

Mark Eckhart Jr.Correspondent INovember 8, 2008

Mark Martin knows his chances of a Sprint Cup Championship are dwindling.

Martin is considered to be the most decorated driver never to win a championship in the Cup Series. He has finished second in the final standing four times, most recently in 2002, where a late-season penalty arguably lost him the championship to Tony Stewart.

Martin has come out of semi-retirement yet again to make one last run at a season championship. He came out of semi-retirement a few years ago for longtime friend Jack Roush when he needed a driver for one more year.

This time he'll be doing the driving for Rick Hendrick.

Martin and Hendrick both have a tremendous amount of respect for one another, and when Rick needed a driver to replace Casey Mears in the No. 5 car, he looked no further than within his own organization to find that replacement.

Martin has run a few races in the Nationwide Series this season for Hendrick and JR Motorsports, and he has had some fantastic runs. By contending for wins in the Cup Series, Martin is proving that while he's approaching 50, he's still just as fast as guys half his age or younger.

Martin will be joining the superpower of Hendrick Motorsports, which already had Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Those three drivers have six Sprint Cup championships, soon to be seven assuming Johnson holds on this season, five Daytona 500 victories, six victories at Indianapolis, and 138 wins overall.

Martin will be bringing his 35 wins with him, to add an additional power to an already astonishing organization. NASCAR might be on the verge of claiming the first dynasty in its history.

Only if Martin and company can close the deal.

Mark Martin is one of those drivers that you say to yourself "if my guy can't win on Sunday, I'd love to see Martin win" and the same can be said for the championship, or the Daytona 500.

Martin will bring his veteran leadership and presence over to Hendrick Motorsports, and he will be welcomed with open arms.

Mark Martin has shown an incredible ability to figure out the COT, and I believe he can bring additional information to the other teams on how to set this car up more efficiently.

There's no doubt that Martin will have the equipment, the resources, and the personnel to get the job done.

Mark is always his team's biggest cheerleader and supporter, by giving them such high praise throughout the weekend, and thanking them for working so hard after each race, regardless of the result.

It is comments like those that make his guys work even harder to give him the absolute best they can give him.

Like working for Mark Martin wasn't motivation enough.

Martin should be able to run up front, and make the Chase without too much of an issue, but we've seen how important bonus points can be if a few guys win all the races in the first 26 like Johnson, Edwards, and Kyle Busch did.

If Martin doesn't find victory lane before the Chase, he could be in a 50 point deficit or more, before the green flag waves in New Hampshire, but that's what makes NASCAR racing so unpredictable, and why so many of us tune in.

You never know what's going to happen.