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Cooperation, healthy respect made Martin to Stewart deal possible

Aug 19, 2013, 5:30 PM EDT

Mark Martin 2 Getty Images

When asked how many parties were needed to sign off on Mark Martin‘s filling in for Tony Stewart for all but one of the remaining 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, Stewart-Haas Racing competition director Greg Zipadelli was candidly vague.

“A lot,” Zipadelli said, without putting an actual number on it. “To be honest with you it just kind of happened. Everyone was very cooperative. Hat’s off to MWR. It’s them getting a jump start, too. It’s that simple, that casual of a conversation. It could help Stewart Haas Racing and MWR both.”

The breakdown of races for the rest of 2013 is Martin will run 12 of the 13 events for SHR, and his Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Brian Vickers will now run 12 of the final 13 in the No. 55 Aaron’s Toyota. The exception will be at Talladega as Austin Dillon (SHR) and Michael Waltrip (MWR) will take over the Nos. 14 and 55.

Martin expressed a wealth of gratitude for the opportunity. It’s his fifth different new team since he and Roush Racing parted ways at the end of 2006 (Ginn/DEI, Hendrick Motorsports, MWR, Joe Gibbs Racing).

“I’m incredibly honored,” Martin said. “The guy is so amazing; he’s the modern day A.J. Foyt. He drove anything and everything and was fast. Tony is a guy that really does that. We’ve been good friends for quite some time with amazing mutual respect. It’s an honor to be in this situation where we’re able to do this. I’m really, really sorry that it comes as his expense.

“One thing I do want to say, is that there is an amazing amount of cooperation to get this deal done by so many parties,” he added. “I haven’t seen this much cooperation in the past. It’s largely in part because the incredibly amount of respect in this sport for Tony Stewart.”

Pressed on 2014 plans, Martin wasn’t biting because he knows the mountainous task ahead the rest of this year.

“I don’t have a plan, and I have much less of a plan right now than a week ago,” Martin said. “I was part-time, and now I’m racing all but one race, with what I feel is a lot of challenges and pressure. I don’t want to think about 2014 at all right now.”

“But you know my motivation is not for points; it’s for racing. If I’m running 20th, I’ll bust my butt to run 19th.”

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