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franklin county times

Driver carousel continues

By Staff
Jason Cannon
FCT Columnist
Michael Jordan, Roger Clemens, and Mark Martin – you wouldn't necessarily group those guys together in just about any category that you can imagine.
They are from North Carolina, Texas, and Arkansas respectively. One played basketball, one played baseball and the other drove racecars. However, all three excelled in their particular sport over a long period of time and all three retired numerous times, but couldn't stay away.
Martin drove Fords for Jack Roush for 19 years. He announced his retirement and went on the farewell tour along with Rusty Wallace. Yes, it has been that long ago. Roush got himself into a bad situation when Kurt Busch left/was fired from the old No. 97 team. Roush asked Martin to return for "one more year." Well, that was three years ago.
Since then, Martin moved to the No. 01 car of MB2 Motorsports, and that team was sold to Bobby Ginn. The heat in the kitchen got too hot for Ginn and he sold the team to Dale Earnhardt, Inc. All the while Martin is competing part-time, driving the car only on tracks he likes and letting a "developing driver" take over the car on tracks he didn't really like.
Now, word is circulating this week that Martin will be on the move again. It appears that Martin will leave DEI after the season to drive, in some form, the Hendrick Motorsports No. 5 Chevrolet.
As of Friday, Casey Mears found out his time in that seat is done. Mears had one victory and finished 15th in the Cup standings last year, but he has fallen to 24th this season and hasn't won a race.
Mears is, and has been, in a precarious position. He has changed teams, sponsors and crew chiefs every year for the last five and always seems on the bottom of the food chain. He is a solid driver that just can't catch a break. He will land on his feet and is rumored to be in the running for Richard Childress' new no 33 team next season.
Depending on which report you read and believe, Martin will be in the car for the full season competing for the Chase and championship "one last time." Or Martin will share the ride with current JR Motorsports Nationwide Series driver Brad Keselowski.
On the surface, this looks like a surprising move, but who would pass up the opportunity to drive for Rick Hendrick? Martin has driven for Hendrick and JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series several times over the last couple years. He even won at Las Vegas earlier this year in the No. 5.
The Tony Stewart saga continues and seems to be headed toward an end. I think it is a foregone conclusion that Stewart will leave Joe Gibbs Racing after the season.
Now, the questions are where does he go, what sponsors will go with him and which driver will he snag along the way. Some big names, both drivers and sponsors, are involved in this deal. Ryan Newman or Martin Truex could change rides once the other shoe drops. UPS, Home Depot, Office Depot, Bass Pro Shops and Old Spice are some of the names involved in the sponsorship portion of this ongoing situation. Gonna be fun to follow this one.
New Hampshire is next on the schedule. My pick to take the checkers this week is Matt Kenseth.
Jason Cannon is the publisher of The Demopolis Times. He can be reached at jason.cannon@demopolistimes.com.