As a driver at Roush Fenway Racing from 1988-2006, Mark Martin won 83 races across NASCAR’s national series and was the Sprint Cup Series’ championship runner-up four times while helping establish the organization as one of the best in the sport.
Martin, who has since held multiple-race driving roles with Dale Earnhardt Inc., Ginn Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Michael Waltrip Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing, is now returning to the place where it all began — Roush — where he will begin work immediately as a driver development coach.
Wednesday morning’s announcement about Martin’s role follows Sunday’s announcement that RFR will campaign three Sprint Cup Series entries in 2015 with drivers Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne. Carl Edwards, who joined RFR’s Sprint Cup program in late 2004, will not return next season, the organization announced on Sunday.
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Edwards is expected to join Joe Gibbs Racing.
"I’m excited to return to Roush Fenway Racing, as it feels like I’m going home to where I belong," said Martin, who tweeted out news of his hiring about an hour before the team issued an official release detailing the plan. "I was fortunate to help build this team from the beginning, and it’s very humbling to be a part of Jack’s (co-owner Jack Roush) team again. When Jack first hired me in 1988, we didn’t talk about salary or benefits or perks; we talked about testing, tires and putting the right personnel into place to win on the track. That commitment is what stood out to me then and it’s still what stands out to me today."
The hiring of the 55-year-old Martin, one of the most traveled and widely-respected drivers in NASCAR history, comes at a time when RFR’s driver lineup is about to get considerably younger and less experienced. With Edwards moving on next season and RFR moving Bayne up from the Nationwide Series, Biffle will be the only one of Roush’s Sprint Cup drivers above the age of 27.
"Nobody does a better job at developing young talent than Jack Roush," Martin said. "Roush Fenway has an abundance of young, talented drivers, and I’m looking forward to working with each of them going forward. I am very proud of what Jack and I were able to accomplish together and I am excited to expand on those accomplishments."
Martin finished his lengthy driving career last season in a substitute role with Stewart-Haas Racing where he filled in for team co-owner Tony Stewart after Stewart broke his leg in a sprint-car crash in early August.
"I understand what it takes to succeed in this business and appreciate the hard work, dedication and focus required to compete at the highest level week in and week out," Martin said. "We have a great crop of young drivers in Ricky and Trevor, as well as with the (Nationwide Series) rookies Chris Buescher and Ryan Reed and, of course, the veteran leadership with Greg Biffle. It will be a key part of my job to help them develop their skills behind the wheel and get the most of their exceptional ability."
Martin earned 35 Sprint Cup Series victories as the driver of RFR’s flagship No. 6 Ford for 19 years. At the end of his Roush Fenway driving tenure, the Batesville, Ark., native also had amassed a record five IROC (International Race of Champions) championships along with a then-record 47 NASCAR Nationwide Series wins. Martin has won 96 NASCAR races throughout this entire career.
"The thing that always stood out about Mark was his unmatched drive to win," said Roush. "Mark put us on the map and I am pleased to have him as a part of our team again. Mark is not only a good friend but he’s also a fierce competitor, and I truly admire his passion and dedication to racing. I have no question that you will be able to see his influence on our young drivers. He understands what it takes to win and to be able to do that on a consistent basis, and he’ll, once again, be a great asset to have back within our organization."