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Life begins at 50? Mark Martin coming back full-time Cup for 2010!


Mark Martin (L) and Jimmie Johnson (R) make good teammates for Rick Hendrick (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   Guess that runaway victory in Phoenix a couple weeks ago was just enough to keep Mark Martin interested in playing the stock car game another season – Wednesday he announced he'll be back full-time on the Sprint Cup tour in 2010 with car owner Rick Hendrick.
   For a guy who planned retirement from this sport was it five years ago, Martin is having a ball.
   So he's coming back for a second full Cup season with Hendrick and Chevrolet.
   Last summer Martin, who just turned 50 in January, agreed to run the full 2009 season for Hendrick and a part-time 26-race Cup schedule in 2010. That contract was just revised; the sponsorship for next season was not revealed.
    Hendrick says "week-in and week-out, Mark continues to be one of the best race car drivers in the world.
   "He's already made an incredible contribution to Hendrick Motorsports, and our entire company is excited about running another full season and winning races with him in 2010."
   Phoenix was Martin's 36th career tour win. So far this season Martin has three poles and five top-10 finishes, and he and crew chief Alan Gustafson are 15th in the standings, 61 points behind the 12th-place playoff cut….and that despite a run of bad luck in the season's opening weeks.
     Martin may be 50 but when he says "I'm in the best condition of my life," he's not just blowing smoke.
    Martin is one of the most physically fit drivers in the sport.
    And Martin's head is in the right place: "I'm recharged, and I'm motivated.
   "Going to the track every weekend is still really fun, and that's the key.
    "There's more gas in my tank."

Alan Gustafson (C), as crew chief, is the glue that keeps Mark Martin (L) and Rick Hendrick clicking this season (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


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