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Martin to keep seat in No. 5 Chevy

CONCORD, N.C. -- Mark Martin's retirement tour has been extended to 2010.

Hendrick Motorsports announced on Wednesday that the 50-year-old Martin will return to drive the No. 5 Chevrolet for the 36-race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next season.

It will be the 22nd full-time Cup campaign of Martin's career and his second with car and team owner Rick Hendrick.

In July, Martin signed a two-year contract with HMS for one full Cup season in 2009 and one part-time schedule of 26 events in 2010.

He told ESPN.com earlier this year at Bristol he wanted to drive at least one more full season. Hendrick at the time said he wanted Martin to return.

"Week in and week out, Mark continues to be one of the best race car drivers in the world," Hendrick said in a release. "He's already made an incredible contribution to Hendrick Motorsports, and our entire company is excited about running another full season and winning races with him in 2010."

With his April 18 victory at Phoenix, Martin became just the fourth driver to record 400 top-10 finishes in Cup competition. It was his 36th career win in NASCAR's top series.

"It means a lot to drive the No. 5 Chevy for Rick and for Hendrick Motorsports," Martin said. "I'm in the best condition of my life, I'm recharged, and I'm motivated. Going to the racetrack every weekend is still really fun, and that's the key. There's more gas in my tank."

Martin announced in 2006 when he left Roush Fenway Racing that he was headed toward retirement with a part-time schedule at then Ginn Racing.

Jeff Burton, a former teammate of Martin's at Roush Fenway Racing, says he wasn't surprised by the news. He said he and Martin had talked about the possibility numerous times.

"I think it's awesome," Burton said Wednesday at Lowe's Motor Speedway. "I was pulling for Mark when he first started talking about doing it this year. I told him he'd be crazy if he didn't do it. Mark is a great example of a guy with a lot of drive. Our sport is better off having him in it."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com.