Veteran drivers like to race at their own pace - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Veteran drivers like to race at their own pace

February 15, 2007

Daytona Beach, Fl. - The toughest decision for any race car driver is when to park their race car for that final time.

Instead of retiring, a growing number of NASCAR Nextel Cup drivers are simply cutting the number of times they race each season.

Mark Martin said "I have never talked about retiring. I talked about cutting back."

NASCAR veteran Mark Martin has finally gotten his wish this year.

Martin left his seat at Roush Racing to drive the U.S. Army Chevrolet for Ginn Racing because he won't have to run all 36 points races this year.

Martin said "I really get the chance to realize my dreams at this point and time which is work with great young talent and mentor them and be able to race some myself."

Mark Martin isn't the only driver who will be cutting back.

Kyle Petty announced recently he will miss several races to do television work.

The drivers are following the lead of Dawsonville's Bill Elliott.

Elliott gave up his full time ride three years ago and hasn't looked back.

Bill Elliott said "It has been great and I have really enjoyed it. I realize there are Sundays and I can spend them off."

Not every veteran driver thinks cutting back is a good idea.

Ricky Rudd said "I seriously considered a limited schedule. I looked at it and almost went down that route. I think if you are in this sport you need to be in it week in and week out."

While it is nice to pick and choose your schedule, Bill Elliott says there are some pitfalls to racing part time.

Elliott said "It is hard to put the deals together. And the top 35 are guaranteed a starting spot the way the rules are currently."

Like any professional, it is hard to give up what you love doing the most.

So, would fans love to see a racing series that catered to veteran cup drivers?

Kyle Petty said "Golf obviously has its Champions Tour but we are to that stage because nobody wants guys out there driving with prescription windshields."

Rookie Regan Smith will split time with Mark Martin in the 01 U.S Army Chevrolet.

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