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Martin back in fold with Roush Racing

By Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

This article was published August 1, 2014 at 2:39 a.m.

Mark Martin won 83 races while driving for Jack Roush before parting ways in 2006, but the Batesville native announced Thursday he will work as the team’s driver development coach.

Batesville's Mark Martin began racing stock cars for Jack Roush in 1988, and by the time they parted ways in 2006 they had built Roush's team into one of the strongest in NASCAR.

Now they're together again.

Martin announced Thursday that he will begin work immediately as a driver development coach for Roush Fenway Racing.

Martin, 55, tweeted news of his hiring about an hour before the team's official announcement: "Who says you can't go home? Excited to reunite with Jack/return to @roushfenway as driver development coach. #DR1VEN"

"I was fortunate to help build this team from the beginning, and it's very humbling to be a part of Jack's team again," Martin said in a statement released Thursday. "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."

Martin won 83 races while driving for Roush, including 35 in what is now the Sprint Cup series at the wheel of the team's flagship No. 6 Ford. He won runner-up in the series four times and remains one of the most respected personalities in the sport.

"Mark put us on the map, and I am pleased to have him as a part of our team again," Roush said in a statement. "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."

After leaving Roush, Martin drove for five teams: Dale Earnhardt Inc., Ginn Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Michael Waltrip Racing and, most recently, Stewart Haas Racing for the final 12 races of the 2013 season while filling in for the injured Tony Stewart. His only Cup victories that were not with Roush came in 2009, when he won five times for Hendrick Motorsports and finished second in the final standings for the fourth time.

In the first two seasons after leaving Roush, Martin did not race a full 36-race schedule. He ran every race in 2009-2011 while driving for Hendrick. He had 24 starts in 2012 for Waltrip and 28 last year for Waltrip and Stewart Haas.

Martin has not raced this season, likely the first time he hasn't since he began as a 12-year-old on the dirt track at Independence County Speedway. He has worked as a consultant and Daytona test driver for Stewart Haas.

Roush Fenway announced Sunday that it will field three teams in 2015 with drivers Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne. Carl Edwards will not return to the team and is expected to sign with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Biffle, 44, is in his 13th season in Sprint Cup, all with Roush. However, Stenhouse, 26, was a rookie last season and Bayne, 23, has had a full-time ride only in the Nationwide Series.

"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 also will work with even younger drivers Chris Buescher, 21, and Ryan Reed, 20, who will be in the Nationwide Series for Roush.

"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. ... 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."

Sports on 08/01/2014

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