Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Sources: Martin to stand in if baby calls away Gordon
By Marty Smith
If Jeff Gordon is forced to miss a race to attend the birth of his daughter, series veteran Mark Martin will man the No. 24 Chevrolet, multiple sources within the Hendrick Motorsports organization told ESPN.com Wednesday.
Martin on Wednesday afternoon will be fitted for a racing seat in preparation for the substitute role, sources said, and plans to begin stand-by duty for Gordon at Infineon Raceway next month.
Hendrick Motorsports officials chose not to comment, saying rather that Gordon would address the matter Thursday at Lowe's Motor Speedway, site of this weekend's Coca-Cola 600.
Sources said Gordon personally sought out Martin to stand in for him, and after clearing the idea with Ginn Racing officials, Martin gladly accepted.
Gordon's wife, Ingrid Vandebosch, is due the week of the June 24 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma.
Martin will fly to Sonoma, during a weekend when he is slated to be idle from racing. If Gordon doesn't require his services, Martin will remain on hand to coach Regan Smith in the No. 01.
According to NASCAR officials, Martin could get in the No. 24 without practicing in the car, so long as Nextel Cup director John Darby gives his blessing. Given Martin's veteran experience, that would seem to be all but a foregone conclusion.
If baby Gordon arrives a week early, sources said Martin will turn the No. 01 Chevrolet over to Smith at Michigan Speedway and drive the No. 24 for Gordon. Likewise, in the event the baby is a week late, Martin would sub for Gordon at New Hampshire.
Gordon hasn't missed a race in his Cup Series career, a span of 484 consecutive races. The last race run without Gordon in the field was the 28th race of the 1992 season, at Phoenix International Raceway.
During that span Gordon has accumulated 78 Cup Series victories and four championships.
Marty Smith covers Nextel Cup racing for ESPN.com.