Published July 23, 2010
Evernham, a color analyst for ESPN, said during a news conference Friday morning, "right now the right thing is for Mark to make room for Kasey." Evernham added he expects Martin to voluntarily step aside in the next three or four weeks.
Evernham won three Cup titles with Hendrick Motorsports and still has strong ties to the company despite leaving in 2000 to pursue his own race team. He also enjoys a close relationship with Kahne, who drove for Evernham for five years and remained in the No. 9 car after George Gillett became majority owner of the company.
Although Evernham is not the first person to suggest Kahne's plans will come to fruition in 2011, he's the first to put a timetable on a decision.
Martin very calmly responded Friday afternoon insisting, "There's no inclination of any change" for next season. Martin added that team owner Rick Hendrick and Martin's crew chief Alan Gustafson "indicated...that they wanted (Martin) to drive the car as long as he wanted to and it was his decision to drive until the end of the 2011 season.
"There's no roadmap for me in the future," Martin said. "So don't criticize me for 2012 and beyond because I don't know. I'm going to do what I want to do. For now, I'm going to drive the (No.) 5 car. That's what I'm going to do in '11. That's what I said all along. I felt very disrespected when the media doesn't accept that. Because what that means is -- you makes me look like I'm going to get fired. It's very disrespectful and I deserve better than that from (the media).
"I've always been very straight with you guys and any bit of waffling I've done in my whole career is based on being asked questions before I was ready to answer them. I should be able to do the things I want to do. I went to a limited schedule because I wanted to. I came back full time because I wanted to drive the 5 car. I never said that I was going to retire. I said I wasn't going to run the full schedule anymore -- and I changed my mind. I'm going to have a hard time telling you guys what I'm going to do for '12 and beyond because you pick at that like I'm indecisive. I'm at the point in my career where I get to do whatever the heck I want to do."
Martin, who has spent the last 25 years on the NASCAR Cup tour, turned the questioning back on the reporters and asked if anyone had taken the time to speak with Hendrick or Gustafson. He didn't seem surprise when no one answered.
"I don't know why everybody makes such a big deal about it. It will all be put to rest whenever they announce what Kasey is going to do. You should be focusing on that -- what Kasey is going to do. Because I've told you what I'm going to do."