Martin feels disrespected, but he can blame Rick Hendrick for speculation
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Mark Martin is a pretty calm guy most of the time. He’s passionate about racing, but is used to the spotlight and the media’s commenting on him.
But even he has his breaking point. This week, he expressed his displeasure with the constant questioning by the media about where he’s going to be racing next season. See, it’s been months since he said publicly that he will finish the last year of contract at Hendrick Motorsports next season, driving the No. 5 car.
Problem is that all the media seem to believe Kasey Kahne will drive that car next year and alternative arrangements will be made for Martin.
That kind of questioning is disrespectful, Martin says.
"I'm going to do what I want to do, but for now I'm going to drive the No. 5 car," Martin said. "That's what I'm going to do in 2011. That's what I've said all along, and I felt very disrespected when the media doesn't accept that."
In this situation, I can see both sides. Mark is right to feel disrespected, but unfortunately this is a symptom of how things work in the media today. A different rumor pops up every day, especially during the silly season of NASCAR – which starts almost as soon as the season begins. If the media does not follow on these rumors and confirm or deny them, it is not doing its job. Unfortunately for drivers like Mark, that means we often have to ask questions that sound disrespectful at times.
At some point, though, he is right: Enough is enough.
I do know the simplest way to end this speculation, though: Rick Hendrick should announce right now what car Kasey Kahne will drive in 2011, then we can leave Mark alone.
Until this happens, the speculation about who will drive the #5 ride will continue, whether Martin likes it or not.
Hendrick, unfortunately, is only adding fuel to the fire. This weekend, he would not commit to saying that the ride is Mark’s and Kahne for sure won’t be driving the #5 next season.
Edwards, Keselowski penalties on target
In the end, it all worked itself out very well. After the reckless actions he displayed at Gateway, Carl Edwards had gained points on Brad Keselowski in the championship battle. Thankfully, the punishment by NASCAR has taken away any advantage Carl gained from dumping Brad. He lost 60 points, and is on probation through the end of the season. Brad is also on probation.
This is a good way for them to approach the situation, as it sets the precedent that there are some things that step over the “boys, have at it” line.
Being on probation, both drivers no longer have a license to play bumper cars and potentially damage a field full of cars while continuing their personal battles. I predict you won’t hear much from this rivalry anytime soon … at least until the probation runs out.
Great racing at ORP this weekend
I’ll just say it straight up: I love the racing at the track I remember as Indianapolis Raceway Park.
At less than a mile long, this track is built for great side-by-side battles, and it didn’t disappoint this past weekend.
Friday night, we got to see an awesome Truck series race that saw the return of Ron Hornaday to Victory Lane – his first win this year, believe it or not. People had left Hornaday for dead, declaring him out of the title fight, but you can never count this true champion out.
He put on a great move to pass Kyle Busch and Timothy Peters, and appears poised to go on another hot streak in the coming races.
Also in the Truck race, we saw a great series debut from a young female racer named Johanna Long. Amid all the Danica crossover hype, it’s easy to forget that there are plenty of females without a hype machine behind them that already know how to race a stock car.
Just a teenager, Long finished 17th driving for Billy Ballew Motorsports, and you can expect to see a lot more of her in the future.
Moving on to Saturday night, we saw a familiar result with Kyle Busch winning, but it was still an entertaining race with a lot of side-by-side action. Old buddies Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards played nice, but it came down to a tight fight between Busch and Edwards. While he was right on the bumper of Busch, Edwards was able to restrain himself this time and not cause any pileups.
After the race, Busch made a subtle dig at Brad Keselowski by saying Carl will race cleanly against those who respect him.
"It was a good, clean hard-fought battle. When you treat people with respect, that's what you get -- you get respect back. Carl
(Edwards) was awesome tonight.”
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