Friday, July 23, 2010
Martin intends to drive 5 through 2011
By David Newton
INDIANAPOLIS -- Mark Martin says he feels "disrespected" because of speculation that Kasey Kahne will drive the No. 5 at Hendrick Motorsports in 2011.
The 51-year-old driver insisted on Friday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that team owner Rick Hendrick and crew chief Alan Gustafson fully support him staying in the car through the end of his contract.
"I understand it'll all come to a rest whenever they announce what Kasey is going to do [in 2011]," Martin said. "You should be focusing on that. What is Kasey going to do? Because I've told you what I'm going to do."
Martin once again was faced with questions about him fulfilling the final year of his contract in the 5 car after ESPN analyst Ray Evernham said he expected Martin to announce over the next three to four weeks that he will step aside for Kahne.
"I made myself perfectly clear over the last several weeks," Martin said. "There is no information or any change."
Kahne signed with HMS earlier this year to drive the 5 beginning in 2012, with Hendrick promising to find him a ride for next Sprint Cup season. More opportunities than he anticipated have come up, Hendrick has said, but sponsorship appears to be the biggest hang-up.
Tony Stewart has made it clear he will not expand to three teams and Red Bull Racing officials have denied reports that they will put either Martin or Kahne in a car. Another potential option is James Finch-owned Phoenix Racing. Finch is a good friend of Hendrick, although team officials recently said no discussions have taken place.
There also has been speculation that Kahne could be placed in another Chevy organization.
But as far as Martin is concerned, he's in the No. 5 for one more year.
"It's what I said all along," he said. "I feel very disrespected when the media doesn't accept that."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com.