Friday, February 29, 2008

Why is Mark Martin in a Hendrick NNS Car??

It's bad enough seeing Mark Martin come over to DEI to co-run the #8 car this season. Martin is a long-associated Ford driver whose name is well connected and associated with that brand. While DEI is trying to field the 8 car this year competitively, it has greatly irked many Chevy and DEI fans to see Martin come aboard to drive the 8 -- a car made famous by Ralph Earnhardt and Dale Junior. Of course, the big story this past year in NASCAR was Dale Junior leaving his father's team to go race for Rick Hendrick -- something else particularly grating to dedicated Earnhardt fans (whether Dale Sr. or Dale Jr.). So, watching this collusion between the drivers of the two teams does not make fans of one -- or the other -- team happy.

DEI's President of Global Operations, Max Siegel, was interviewed on ESPN this past week. He's pretty polished and slick at doing his job--trying to make it look like all is roses and candy between Dale Junior, DEI and Rick Hendrick Racing -- but one has to wonder, after seeing some of Dale Junior's interviews the past 2 months, how true this is. Junior does not sound nor look like the Junior of old. His expression, body language and demeanor does not come across like someone who is entirely pleased with how things have turned out. Maybe he's starting to realize that he's no longer the big fish in the small pond, but rather the smaller fish in the bigger pond.

We've noticed that racing revisionists now claim that Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt, Sr. were colleagues, and that Hendrick and Dale Sr. were buddies. Well, that's not the way that those of us who have followed stock car racing for the past 30+ years remember it that way. 'Back in the Day' you pretty well were either Ford or Chevy and many a battle took place off the track by the fans. NASCAR, in their attempts to make the sport more homogenized, has tried to take the emphasis off of car makes. While our own American brands are having financial difficulty, and charity should begin at home, NASCAR has taken the stance that foreign car makes are going to bring yet more $$$ into their ever-burgeoning coffers; hence the push for the generic COT. It has yet to be revealed 'who' is profiting from the new car design. The shops are not allowed to fabricate the bodies any more. Someone has to be providing all this new stuff...I have my suspicions...

If Martin is in a Hendrick NNS car, then what he is doing driving a Cup car for DEI? That's the main question. Doesn't Hendrick have all these 'talented' drivers, and upcoming stars-in-grooming like Landon Cassills, to put in cars? Top that off with Martin's forays into CTS racing -- again, taking the proverbial food out of the mouths of those that need it for their teams to survive -- and one has to wonder about Mark Martin's ego and what it takes to feed that.

Martin has no firm allegiance to anyone, apparently. Jumping between make-to-make of car from each Series (Cup, NNS and CTS) grates on some of us 'old fans' that NASCAR is committed to wooing back. NASCAR is determined to deemphasize the 'branding' of the cars by ramming the so-called COT (car of today which, last year, was the car of tomorrow) down everyone's thoats.

It's ironic that Martin tries to appear as a mentor to young drivers when, in fact, his actions generally serve to help send the less-financed driver, who is trying to break into the series and gain experience, and his team, home.

DEI might think about how their information is being shared with their good buddies at Rick Hendrick Racing. No one is going to go back and forth between teams and not dish about it.