Martin set to flip to 'next chapter'

Is Mark Martin ready to step down as a driver and shift his focus to the business side of stock-car racing? As an owner, perhaps?

No, Martin says.


Martin shot down rumors that he's interested in leaving Hendrick Motorsports to become an owner, specifically with Red Bull Racing, during an interview with SPEED TV.

"I am very interested and would love to commit to Jay Frye (Red Bull Racing's vice president and general manager) and that organization to help Jay move forward and rebuild that organization in all forms," Martin said. "There's a lot of things I want to do in the sport still, including driving racecars, and outside of driving racecars. But as an equity owner, I can't see it happening anywhere. I'm not interested in doing that."


Martin is signed with Hendrick until the end of this season.

"I'm really excited about 2012 and opening a new chapter in my life," he said. "I've had the time of my life being part of Hendrick Motorsports. I've won eight or nine poles and five races, all big bonuses to what I'd expected when I was looking at things in 2008.

"But it's time to open the next chapter, and I'm really excited about it. I couldn't be more excited about what comes next, and I'm not sure what that is. But it's going to be fun, and I'm looking forward to it."

Batter up: One of the most notable promotional deals of the season will be featured this week when drivers, official team members and executives receive special-edition NASCAR Louisville Slugger bats. About 300 were rolled out of the Slugger factory. The bats feature the logo for the inaugural Sprint Cup race at the Kentucky Speedway this weekend.

"The Sprint Cup series is really the big league of auto racing," said Anne Jewell, executive director of the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory. "What better gift for the folks associated with this race than the official bat of the major leagues? It's such an important event coming to Kentucky as well."

Bayne makes history: Trevor Bayne's 41st-place finish in the Coke Zero 400 marks the worst performance in Daytona's July race for the driver who won the Daytona 500 in February. Cale Yarborough, the 1983 Daytona 500 winner, previously held the record after finishing 40th.Yarborough started on the pole and led a lap, but his engine sputtered after five laps. Bayne got turned around and hit the wall on the fifth lap Saturday.

George Diaz