ATLANTA - Tony Stewart's team will have race spaces available next year when Danica Patrick runs a partial season. Mark Martin is seeking to race a partial season. Seems a perfect match, right? There's just one problem ...
On Friday, in between promoting an Office Depot initiative and defending himself against suggestions of unpatriotic snubbing, Stewart openly acknowledged how much he'd like to have Mark Martin run races for him in 2012. "I would love to have him," Stewart said. "The biggest [obstacle] is financial."
It's not an inconsiderable hurdle. When major teams like those of Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer and Carl Edwards are still either seeking or just now finalizing financing options, the idea of funding a part-time driver who, to put it politely, may be past marquee status is a challenge indeed.
"If we could find the money," Stewart said, "he would be our leading candidate." Would Patrick bring in enough cash to float the car during her weeks off? Unlikely, but Patrick could bring the team the exposure it needs to lure in additional funding. Stewart-Haas likely can't self-fund too many races for Martin, so it will be a case of pay-to-play.
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