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Martin's Daytona streak apparently will end at 26

The SportsXchange

By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service

Distributed by The Sports Xchange

AVONDALE, Ariz.-- For the first time since 1987, Mark Martin won't be in the Daytona 500 when the green flag waves on Feb. 23, 2014.

During Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series qualifying session at Phoenix International Raceway, Martin talked to reporters about his 2014 plans, which don't include the "Great American Race," but do include testing for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Martin has subbed for Tony Stewart, who broke his leg in a sprint car accident Aug. 5 in Iowa, and he will continue that role during the Preseason Thunder testing sessions at Daytona.

"I don't have any racing scheduled for 2014," said Martin, who has appeared in 26 consecutive Daytona 500s, and 29 overall. "I do, however, have an undefined role at Stewart-Haas. The major definition is I'll do the preseason testing. The cool thing about that is I get to do it on my terms. We haven't gone solid with the level of commitments or duties I will have. I've told them I want to get this year behind me.

"I'm going to be around. I'm going to be involved in racing. Most people close to me have known this all year, so really it's nothing new. I won't be in the Daytona 500. I ran third in the Daytona 500 in 2013, and that felt good. I knew that was my last Daytona 500. And then we came out here (Phoenix) and sat on the pole (for the March 3 race)."

Martin will drive the No. 14 SHR Chevrolet in Stewart's stead Nov. 17 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but the 54-year-old driver isn't ready to say that will be his last NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

"I don't want to discuss that right now," Martin said. "I've really enjoyed this year, not dealing with all that. And I don't think that is of any major consequence. Let's just don't talk about it."

Nor does Martin feel he needs to fill a role as a driver coach for SHR's Danica Patrick.

"I say Danica does not need a driving coach," Martin said. "She's driving an amazing job, in my opinion. But if we can feed her faster race cars, she will reach her full potential. So I don't want you guys to write that I'm going to be coaching Danica, because I don't think she needs one ounce of coaching.

"She's driving fantastic. We've got to get her cars faster. So if I was able to aid in any way, shape or form the amount of information that was given to her to utilize or maybe (crew chief) Tony Gibson getting the right stuff under her, then that would be a success. But as far as coaching her driving, I don't think she needs it."

SENIOR MOMENT

Ross Chastain, 20, runner-up in Friday night's Lucas Oil 150 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Phoenix, had the line of the day after listening to veterans Brendan Gaughan and Matt Crafton expound at length on the quality of young drivers in the series.

Although Chastain had just lost a closely contested race to first-time winner Erik Jones, 17, he could still muster a sense of humor when he sat down at the dais in the media center.

"First, I just want to say that I'm glad 'senior hour' is over," Chastain quipped. "I think they were rambling there a little bit. But, no, they're good guys. I love to race with them. I've learned a lot from both of them, on and off the track.

"There's a reason they've been around for so long. I can only hope I'm around half as long as they are, because that would be a success in my mind."

Gaughan finished second in Friday's race. Crafton ran fifth, and, with a 46-point lead over Ty Dillon heading to the season finale at Homestead, simply must take the green flag in that race to lock up the series championship.

WINNING FORMULA?

Richard Childress Racing announced Saturday the hiring of Mike Coughlan as technical director, a move that should bolster the engineering efforts of a Chevrolet team that already has made significant strides in that area.

Coughlan, from Surrey, England, has 15 years of experience in Formula One competition, serving as a chief designer with such marquee teams as Ferrari, McLaren, Williams, Benetton and Arrows.

He also has experience in NASCAR competition, having worked with Michael Waltrip Racing in 2010 and 2011 before returning to F1.

Coughlan will report to Dr. Eric Warren, director of competition.

RCR also added Mark McArdle as full-time director of racing operations in August.
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