Freedom- the beauty of living in the United States of America. You have the freedom to pursue the dream you wish, however you wish. Consider Mark Martin and his decision to race a part time schedule in 2012. Some say “Why?” The real question here is “Why not?”
If Mark Martin wants to run a 25 (out of 36) race schedule, and he has a willing employer- in this case, Michael Waltrip- why shouldn’t he? It’s like they say in the car business: a fair price is the one both sides can agree on. Both parties are in agreement, so let the man race.
It’s a good move for both sides, if you think about it. Martin offers a wealth of knowledge and experience from his background that dates all the way back to the early 80s for a team with a couple of young bucks like Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer, who can benefit from it. From Martin’s perspective, eh gets time away from the track, but enough racing to scratch the itch. The 53-year old lists his part time gig at Ginn Racing at the outset of 2007 as among his most enjoyable in the sport.
There’s no points to worry about, just going for broke when he’s out there. Remember- Martin dang near won the “500” five years ago under similar circumstances. To this observer, it’s reminiscent of an old school approach employed by the likes of David Pearson, not that we’re comparing the careers of the two, mind you- just the mental approach.
He doesn’t need the money, so he should do it for fun. As for this depriving a young driver of a chance, really? What so-called phenom should get this ride over Martin? You don’t think Waltrip has thought of that? Perhaps in a couple of years, reaching out to a youngster makes sense; at this moment, that young driver would likely struggle, or they could just go bumping along with a mid-pack journeyman like the departed David Reutimann, or a Brian Vickers. With Martin, you get a more decorated resume, and someone who’s driven for the top names in the business.
Speaking as an admirer of Martin, a full schedule for him seems to be too much of a good thing. Beyond that strong runner-up finish in 2009, it seemed like a 36 race schedule seemed like about 10-15 races too many. If the lack of a championship ever really bothered him, Martin’s over it now. Now’s the time to go burn rubber and have a little fun.
From here, it looks like a case of racing less, and enjoying it more. His fans can see him enough to enjoy him, but not so much the law of diminishing returns sets in. If you could do what he does, wouldn’t you?
Other articles by Jim McCoy include:
Boy Howdy, (Ward) Burton Is Back!
Will 'Dinger Be The Breakout Dirver of 2012?
5 Drivers I'm Watching in 2012