Mark Martin won’t drive No. 55 MWR car in 2014, unsure about future plans

Streeter Lecka

Mark Martin does not plan to retire. However, he will not drive the No. 55 MWR car past this season, the driver said Tuesday during the Sprint Media Tour.

As things are a-changing across the NASCAR landscape, there is one place that's seen minimal change this offseason. That place is Michael Waltrip Racing, where the organization has embraced the idea of continuity.

After a widely successful 2012 campaign that saw MWR achieve numerous firsts, all three teams remain intact for this season.

Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr. and their respective crew chiefs, Brian Pattie and Chad Johnston, return to run the full Sprint Cup Series schedule, while the No. 55 team will again be shared by Mark Martin, Brian Vickers and Michael Waltrip.

However, the tranquility may be fleeting as change may soon be on the horizon at MWR.

On Tuesday, Martin made it known that he plans to step aside after this season and let another driver occupy the seat of the No. 55 Toyota on a full-time basis so the team can compete for a championship in 2014.

"I don't expect to be in (the 55 car)," Martin said when the Sprint Media Tour made a stop at MWR. "That's not my goal. My goal is to see Rodney (Childers, crew chief) and the 55 car race for a championship driver-wise."

Martin's objective this year is to make the 55 car a highly coveted seat in the Cup garage so the team can have its pick of drivers. This way, the team no longer has to timeshare the ride among a group of drivers and instead allows the team to focus entirely on one driver racing for the Cup title.

"This year, we'll do everything that we can to try to win races and perform," Martin said. "But I want to help Rodney achieve his ultimate goal, which is to be a champion crew chief."

Where that leaves Martin next season even he doesn't know, though he wants to continue running a limited schedule -- preferably in some capacity with MWR.

"I've really felt comfortable at MWR -- very, very comfortable," Martin said. "It's such a great working atmosphere, so I might -- I'll still be around. I just don't know.

"No need in worrying about what's next. What's next is my 25 races that we've got on board this year and having fun and being a part of the organization and hopefully continue to get stronger and build a stronger organization."

The man who co-owns MWR isn't sure about what the future holds for Martin, either. However, what Waltrip would like to see is for Martin stay around in some type of role -- whether as a driver, mentor or a combination of both.

"Me and Mark are partners, we're the two old guys," Waltrip said. "If we could figure out somehow for Rodney and those boys to race a full-time car and Mark and I could run a few races in some way or another then we'd certainly entertain that idea.

"Maybe we can be supportive of (No. 55 team's) future driver and he can help mentor whoever that might be. He can mentor them on the track because he's proven to be a Hall of Famer at that and I'll help mentor them with the sponsorship services that we like to see at MWR," Waltrip said.

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