RICHMOND, Va. -- The only thing that brought a frown to Mark
Martin's face after his victory in the International Race of
Champions event was a question about his future.
The native of Batesville, Ark., has said this would be his final
season in Jack Roush's No. 6 Cup car, and a reporter asked him if
he still might consider racing in IROC again next year if invited
to take part in the four-race all-star series as the defending
The 46-year-old Martin acknowledged that was a possibility, then
added, "It really looks like I'm going to be in the 6 car next
year. It's looking more and more like that all the time."
Martin beat Kurt Busch, his teammate at Roush Racing and the
reigning Nextel Cup champion, by 2 feet on Thursday night. Shortly
after, he was informed all he needs to do to wrap up his fifth IROC
championship -- breaking a tie for the record with the late Dale
Earnhardt -- is start the final race at Atlanta Motor Speedway on
Martin said he had planned to spend next season driving a
handful of Busch Series races, as well as racing for his own new
team in NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series. But things got complicated
recently when team owner Jack Roush signed Jamie McMurray away from
Chip Ganassi Racing.
McMurray signed for 2007, with the hope that he or Roush could
convince Ganassi not to pick up his option for 2006. Ganassi has
refused to let McMurray go next season, though, apparently leaving
Roush a driver short.
Instead of trying to find an interim driver, Roush has begged
Martin, who came to the Cup series with Roush in 1988, to help him
out and stay on for one more year.
Apparently, Martin has indeed decided to continue in the No. 6
"I've had to change my plans," Martin said, shrugging and
making a face. "My first truck is already done and I was looking
forward to that. I was going to do a limited Busch schedule and a
full truck schedule in 2006.
"Now, I'm trying to back out of the deal, if I can. I can't do
10 Busch races, 25 Truck races and 36 Cup races. I thought I was
going to slow down, not race more."
Martin, a four-time runner-up in the Cup series, has had a
strong 2005 season, with six top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in 25
starts. He has already clinched a spot in the 10-race Chase for the
Nextel Cup championship.
He added a record 13th IROC victory to that Thursday night at
Richmond International Raceway.
Busch appeared on the way to an easy victory in the 90-lap race.
He took the lead on the third lap on the three-quarter-mile oval
and stayed out front nearly to the end.
But it was Martin who wound up beating Busch in a two-lap
shootout after the last of six caution flags in the race. Martin
won by just 0.021-seconds in the race for identically prepared IROC
"I knew on the last restart, I had to get going," Martin said.
"I got a great jump. I knew I was ahead a little bit coming off
[turn] four, then he got to rubbing me a little bit and I could
feel the wind got him and he started to get the momentum. The
finish line got there just in time."