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Mark Martin, now the NASCAR tour leader, for the first time since March 2007, extends his Cup contract with team owner Rick Hendrick

  You'd be smiling too if Rick Hendrick just added more years to your NASCAR contract (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Cancel Mark Martin's retirement party.
   Car owner Rick Hendrick just announced signing Martin to run full-time at least through the 2011 season.
   Martin, who seems to have had a 'rebirth' of enthusiasm for racing since joining Hendrick this year, has just earned a spot in the 12-man championship chase, toward a title that he has never won, in the division he first ran in back in 1981.
   In fact Martin has already won four times this season, and he comes into Sunday's 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway as the Sprint Cup tour points leader.
   "Yes, we're signed through 2011, which shouldn't come as any surprise – who would want to quit?" Martin says. "It's a long-term commitment.
   "Yes, 2011 is a long time out, but Rick had to make some long-term commitments, and this was his first choice. And I don't see myself falling off a cliff any time soon.
   "It's awfully comfortable. There is no place I'd rather be each day than at the race track. And I didn't always feel that way."
   Of course Martin is 50.
   "I don't feel like I'm 25. I don't know how you're supposed to feel at 50, but I feel pretty good," Martin says.
   "Sure, a lot is being made of my age…in this age of younger drivers," Martin said. "But it used to be that drivers in NASCAR had to have many years under their belt, because they were the 'data acquisition' system for the teams…and 22-year-olds didn't have that experience."
   Now with engineers and computers, young drivers are no longer at a disadvantage.
   The internet domain registrar GoDaddy.com will be the primary sponsor for Martin and Hendrick in 20 of next year's 36 tour events, including the season-opening Daytona 500 Feb. 14th.
   No financial details were announced.
   GoDaddy.com has been a smaller sponsor with Hendrick the past two years, and the company is known for its racy sponsorship commercials with Indy-car star Danica Patrick, who appears leaning toward signing a part-time NASCAR deal with Hendrick-engineering affiliate Tony Stewart for 2010, probably to run Trucks and Nationwide.
   Hendrick described GoDaddy.com as "an exciting, aggressive partner, with immense marketing savvy.
   "The fact they're again expanding their relationship with us says a lot about the success of their business and the results they've seen from these programs."
   And Hendrick described Martin as "an unbelievable asset to our organization. I can't overstate the contribution he's made or the kind of teammate he's been."
   Martin himself says "As long as I can have fun, compete at a high level, and have the opportunity to win, I'm going to continue to do this. I'm having a blast."

   (See more in Daily Briefing)


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