Jeff Burton says he isn't surprised to see former Roush Racing team-mate Mark Martin secure a full-season with Hendrick Motorsports for the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
Martin will return next season as the full-time driver of the #5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, HMS announced Wednesday.
When team owner Rick Hendrick signed Martin last year, the premise was that Martin would run a full schedule in 2009 and share driving duties in 2010 with one of the up-and-coming drivers in the organisation — Brad Keselowski, perhaps.
However, those plans have now changed, with Martin taking in a second full season with the team in 2010 – a move Burton admits isn't a surprise.
“I was pulling for Mark when he first started talking about doing this (in 2008),” said Burton, who appeared at Lowe's Motor Speedway as part of an announcement Wednesday of a major fan initiative for Coca-Cola 600 week. “I told him he was crazy if he didn't do it.
“Mark's a great example of a guy that has a lot of drive that, for a few years, looked at it and said, 'You know what, maybe I don't want it as badly as I used to want it'. Then when he didn't have it any more (running partial schedules in 2007 and 2008), he realised how badly he did want it.
“He's an inspiration to a lot of drivers—young, old, middle-aged drivers. He just gets up on the wheel and drives.”
The announcement also clarifies Keselowski's position for next season and allows him to explore other options, which include continuing in his #88 Nationwide Series ride with JR Motorsports (jointly owned by Hendrick and Dale Earnhardt Jr.) or perhaps driving the Hendrick-supported #09 car of James Finch, in which Keselowski was the surprise winner of last month's Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.
Joining Stewart-Haas Racing, which also receives support from Hendrick, is another prospect that has been subject to speculation, but Keselowski said last weekend at Richmond he hasn't talked to owner Tony Stewart about the possibility, and Stewart said he has no current plans to expand from two teams to three.
by Reid Spencer/Sporting News