NORMAN — Out for the season with a broken leg, Tony Stewart turned to one of NASCAR’s most respected drivers to take over the No. 14.
At 54, Mark Martin is up for the challenge of taking the wheel for his good friend.
“Hopefully, we can turn the 14 car back over to Tony an even stronger organization than what it was when he stepped away and got injured,” Martin said. “That’s the thing that I really want to work hard to do, is when it’s all said and done with, I hope that they can look back and say they were glad that they had me as a part of the organization.”
Martin was released from his part-time schedule at Michael Waltrip Racing on Monday and will drive the No. 14 Chevrolet in 12 of the final 13 Sprint Cup races for Stewart-Haas Racing. Stewart, a three-time Cup champion, will miss the rest of the season while he recovers from the broken right leg suffered in a sprint car crash Aug. 5 at Southern Iowa Speedway.
Nationwide Series driver Austin Dillon will drive the No. 14 on Oct. 20 at Talladega. Dillon filled in for Stewart on Sunday at Michigan and finished 14th.
Martin entered 16 of 23 races as part of a shared ride in the No. 55 with Michael Waltrip at Brian Vickers at MWR. Vickers, who won this season at New Hampshire, will now drive the No. 55 Toyota for MWR in 12 of the final 13 races. He was originally scheduled to drive just three more times. Waltrip will race the No. 55 at Talladega as previously scheduled.
Martin has 40 wins and 56 poles in 870 career Sprint Cup starts.
“My motivation for racing is not for points, it’s for racing,” Martin said. “I want to race, and I want to finish.”
Martin gets his chance after Stewart’s injury cost him his shot at driving for a fourth championship. Stewart had one win this season and was a solid contender to make the Chase for the Sprint Championship. Martin will be the third driver in the No. 14 this season. Max Papis drove the Toyota in Stewart’s absence at Watkins Glen. The No. 14 car is 13th in the owner standings.