Mark Martin, one of NASCAR's best drivers of the past 20 years, has signed an agreement to drive full-time for Hendrick Motorsports in the 2009 Sprint Cup Series season. Martin, 49, will replace Casey Mears in the No. 5 Kellogg's/CarQuest Auto Parts Chevrolet.
Martin last drove full-time in NASCAR's top series in 2006, when he made the Chase for the NEXTEL Cup (as it was then called) for Roush Racing in the No. 6 AAA Ford. That year, he finished ninth in the series' standings. In the first two years under the Chase format, Martin finished fourth both times.
Martin joined Hendrick Motorsports in one last attempt to win his elusive first Sprint Cup championship. He finished second in the series' standings in 1990, 1994, 1998, and 2002. Martin has never finished worse than 17th in points when attempting a full-time schedule.
In 2010, Martin will again move to a partial schedule, similar to the one he is currently running with Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Aric Almirola in the No. 8 US Army Chevrolet. Martin will run 26 races, and a to-be-determined driver will run the other 10.
Almirola will take over the No. 8 Chevrolet full-time next season in the wake of Martin's departure.
Mears has not signed a contract for 2009 and beyond yet, but rumors place him in the No. 33 Cheerios Chevrolet at Richard Childress Racing.