(photo courtesy Jason Smith/Getty Images)
The big news in the NASCAR garage this week is the Hendrick Motorsports signing of Kasey Kahne to drive the #5 HMS Chevy staring in the 2012 season. That headline puts Mark Martin, the current driver of the HMS #5 GoDaddy.com Chevy, in very precarious position.
It’s not like Martin is building this team for a very young inexperienced driver to take control of once Martin retires. Quite to the contrary, Martin will be turning over the reins of the #5 Chevy to a very capable and experienced driver, Kasey Kahne. Kahne is a proven winning driver, in waiting! If the facts are correct about this new Hendrick-Kahne contract, it would appear that the sooner that Kahne takes over the driving status of the #5 team, the better it is for the entire race team. No Lame duck!
This story has a very familiar sound to it. It mirrors a story that erupted back in 2004 when, this very same, Kasey Kahne make his entrance into the Sprint Cup scene with Evernham Motorsports. In 2004 Kahne took over the driving duties in the Evernham #9 Dodge from a very capable veteran, Bill Elliott. In the last 7 races of 2003, Elliott had an average finish of 4.56 including a win at Rockingham. Is this current Hendrick-Kahne situation deja vu?
Martin, like Elliott, has shown that he is still a very capable race car driver. But with this HMS logistical dilemma, what is Mark Martin supposed to do?
Does Martin stubbornly stay in the driver’s seat of the #5 car through the end of 2011? Should he volunteer to step out of the car at the end of 2010 and request to drive for JR Motorsports in the #88 Nationwide Chevy in 2011? Martin then could try to make an arrangement to race for a team that is closely aligned to HMS, Stewart-Haas, or Phoenix Racing, in selective Sprint Car races at Martin’s favorite tracks?
It is very obvious that Martin needs to formulate a good and graceful exit strategy for his Sprint Cup driving duties at Hendrick Motorsports! There are a number of options that must be explored and negotiated very soon!
What are you views?
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!