NASCAR's Mark Martin, the wily driver for Hendrick Motorsports, opened his mouth and the words spilled out. He actually claimed he would drive the No. 5 for HMS in 2011 during an interview at Richmond International Raceway.
It is true—Mark said he intends to drive for years to come in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.
Well now, let's see how much logic there is for him to occupy Kasey Kahne's new ride next year.
It was Martin who pushed Hendrick to pull Kahne into the fold at Hendrick Motorsports. Kasey is the future. Martin is the patriarch of active Sprint Cup drivers looking toward retirement as a driver.
It would be expected from the Arkansas gentleman to do the right thing and step aside as a favor to Mr. Hendrick.
He has expressed his gratitude ad nauseam for the great car and wonderful opportunity he has been given last year and this year at HMS.
Mark Martin dropped four positions to 10th in the points standings after the Richmond race. He has five top-10 finishes this year and no wins.
Alan Gustafson just signed a contract to stay with Hendrick through 2014. He hopes to retire from there.
Gustafson and Martin have had great chemistry. Last year the finished second to Jimmie Johnson in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points.
Though Alan will stay with Hendrick, most likely in the position of crew chief, it is not a given which driver he will work with.
Mark Martin is supposed to leave Hendrick after 2011 to make room for Kasey Kahne.
It would seem a bit of a waste to ship Kasey Kahne off to Stewart-Haas or somewhere else for one year.
Does he cart a sponsor to two different shops? It would make more sense to go straight to Hendrick in 2011 with a strong sponsor.
Martin needs to make his shocking announcement that he is moving from Hendrick in 2011.
Being that he is under contract to Hendrick next year, a trip to Stewart-Haas may be in the offing.
It is a bit tricky to be under contract to one owner and drive for another. The Stewart-Haas relationship to HMS would help resolve some issues.
Mark Martin has expressed his desire to become an owner/driver should the right opportunity cross his path.
Could he just take a payout from Hendrick and head off to new territory?
He may find opportunity with the facilities and disarray at RPM. Martin could also check out deals with Michael Waltrip Racing or perhaps Red Bull Racing.
Obviously he would like to step into an operation in need of money, a recognized driver and sponsorship money. Martin could benefit a troubled company.
It is highly likely Martin could bring Hendrick money with him to another team.
Should Mark go to Stewart-Haas in 2011 he would probably drive a research and development car that would morph into the third Cup car for Stewart in 2012.
Placing Kasey Kahne in a developmental third car for Stewart-Haas makes little sense. It would be a waste of one year for the talented driver awaiting his ride at HMS.
Hendrick will continue to expand his racing empire to the limits and beyond in whatever manner he can.
Mark Martin could prove a conduit for him to indirectly acquire yet another racing entity.
Martin's current crew chief, Gustafson, has acknowledged he may not be with the No. 5 car. He may end up with Dale Jr. and the No. 88 or in some other position at HMS.
Kasey Kahne and Kenny Francis, his crew chief for the No. 9 Budweiser car, have a great relationship. Will Francis get an invitation from Hendrick Motorsports though?
Yes, Mark Martin claims he is going to race the No. 5 at Hendrick Motorsports next year.
It is doubtful I am alone in thinking Mark is pulling our leg just a little.
Gentleman Mark will sacrifice himself for the young gun Kahne next year.
Stay tuned for where Mark Martin is really going to be in 2011. The truth will be told in the not too distant future.
Remember, Mark told us he was retired from driving.