By: Adam Niemeyer (FOX19 Sports)
SPEEDWAY, Ind.—Known for being a generally long-tempered man, Mark Martin got testy this afternoon in Indianapolis. The 51-year-old Batesville, Ark., native, and one of NASCAR's most respected drivers, currently feels a little disrespected by media speculation about the 2011 season.
Martin has been at the center of speculation ever since Hendrick Motorsports announced that Kasey Kahne would be taking over the No. 5 car in 2012. Martin is under contract to drive the No. 5 car through 2011.
However, this morning, ESPN analyst Ray Evernham called for Martin to step aside, and let Kahne get acquainted with the team he'll be taking over in 2012. He believes Martin will announce within three or four weeks that he'll leave Hendrick after this season so Kahne has a ride in 2011. Currently, Kahne has no ride in 2011.
"You can speculate all you want, but when you ask me a question and I give you my best, honest answer and you second-guess me and you second-guess me, I start to get tired of it," Martin said. "And that's where we're at. It's very disrespectful. I just feel like it's very disrespectful."
Martin is also tired of the consistent nagging from media types who ask him what his plans are beyond 2012. He said he doesn't have a road map for his career. He doesn't know yet what he wants to do.
"I'm going to do what I want to do. But for now, I'm going to be driving the 5 car," he said. "That's what I'm going to do. That's what I've said all along, and I felt very disrespected when the media doesn't accept that."
"What that means is, you make me look like I'm about to get fired."
And after a five-win season last year, Martin's stats this year have been rather lackluster, leading to even more fuel for the fire.
"Last year was the time of my life," Martin said, smiling. "But I just had a week and a half off and I'm damn glad to be back at the racetrack. Because, as I told you last year, racing is my life."
Even Martin's media relations representative Kendra Jacobs feels that the consistent and constant speculation is weighing on Martin.
"It wears on everyone on this team and it really wears on Mark," she said. "Once we have all the information in place, we'll say it."
Jacobs stated that once Hendrick Motorsports knows what will happen with Kahne in 2011, they'll release that information. "It does us no good to sit on that information," she said.
Until then, speculation will run rampant, which is more than Martin deserves. Maybe he will silence his critics with a strong run here in Indianapolis, where he won the pole and finished second last season.
Martin was third in today's second and final practice session behind Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray.