Thursday, April 19, 2018
Sports

Martin has no plans to race in 2014

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Mark Martin said Friday he has no plans to race beyond next weekend's NASCAR season finale at Homestead.

But Martin, 54, shied away from announcing his retirement when discussing his future.

"Let's just don't talk about it," he said. "On the plus side of things, it's not like I'm going to go hide. I've got 40 years invested in this sport, and I've had tunnel vision the whole 40 years. I won't be at every race, but I'll be at races, and I'll still be involved in the sport.

"My life is going to change, and it's going to open a new chapter, and I expect to have a lot broader windshield and be a lot less wound tight and tunnel-visioned."

Martin plans to work in an undefined role with Stewart-Haas Racing, a role that for now has him driving the No. 14 Chevrolet in Sprint Cup until injured driver Tony Stewart can race again. Stewart is expected to return from a broken leg in time for the season-opening Daytona 500.

Martin said he has turned down every opportunity to race competitively next season: "I have shot every inquiry down that I've had for any of the top three divisions for 2014."

Considered by many to be the best driver never to have won a Cup championship, Martin has 40 wins and makes his 881st start Sunday in the Advocare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway.

Johnson on pole

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Jimmie Johnson, his eyes squarely on a sixth NASCAR championship, set a track record to take the Advocare 500 pole.

Johnson, who leads Matt Kenseth by seven points in the Chase for the Championship, turned a lap of 139.222 mph in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet to break the mark of 138.766 set last November by Kyle Busch.

"Track records are awesome," Johnson said. "I don't qualify on pole all that often, so I take great pride in them, especially track records. Very cool to do, and clearly a great time in the season and a great time in the Chase."

Kenseth starts 14th in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Crafton all but clinches: Matt Crafton took all the drama out of the NASCAR trucks title at Phoenix. He left the hard racing to kids at the front.

Erik Jones became the youngest winner on NASCAR's national level, at 17 years and 4 months, by taking the Lucas Oil 150. Chase Elliott was five months older when he won in September.

Crafton finished fifth. With a lead of 46 points over Ty Dillon, Crafton needs only to start next Friday in the season finale at Homestead to win the championship.

"I can sleep a lot better, I can promise you that," Crafton said.

NHRA: Shawn Langdon moved closer to his first Top Fuel title, leading qualifying at the season-ending NHRA Finals in Pomona, Calif. Langdon took a 104-point lead over defending champ Antron Brown and will clinch if he holds a lead of 100 points or more at the end of qualifying today. John Force (Funny Car), Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) also led.

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