There is a rumor circulating that Mark Martin, driver of Hendrick Motorsports’ No. 5 Sprint Cup Chevy, could be headed to Red Bull Racing, theorhetically the No. 83, in 2011, allowing Kasey Kahne to move to the No. 5 a year earlier than expected. Hendrick signed Kahne to a multi-year deal earlier this season. But, Martin is still under contract in the no. 5 for 2011, leaving Kahne without a seat until 2012.
Kahne has been rumored to be headed to Stewart Haas Racing, which has been denied. Team owner Tony Stewart doesn’t believe the team will expand next season. Kahne has also been linked to Phoenix Racing. That too was denied. Some also say he may consider staying at Richard Petty Motorsports for another year.
RBR could be in the market for a driver next season, if for some reason Brian Vickers cannot come back after suffering blood cots. Casey Mears took over the No. 83 before being replaced by Reed Sorenson. The team could elect to bring back Sorenson next season, or they could opt to look for an available driver. Martin would be a viable option, if they decided to look elsewhere.
But, Martin has indicated on more than one occasion that he will stay in the No. 5. So, the rumor of him heading to RBR is just that, a rumor. It has not been announced or confirmed at this time. But, it is gaining steam.
Update: Martin’s business manager, Benny Ertel, addressed the rumor saying:
It’s the same thing, over and over again. We walk into the media center and someone immediately raises their hand and asks about where Mark will be racing next season. Mark has answered the question a thousand times and it’s always the same answer. ‘I will be driving the #5 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports next season.’ That’s as simple as it is, but some reporters just don’t listen.
Of Pemberton’s comment, Ertel said:
There’s not a shred of truth to that statement, and he never bothered to ask Mark, Rick Hendrick or anyone else about it. If he had asked, he would have been told — in no uncertain terms — that it was a load of hooey.
Update 2: Red Bull Racing’s GM Jay Frye further denied the rumor, saying:
It’s flattering to be associated with a guy like Mark Martin. He’s a great racer, and any team would love to have him. But he has a contract with Hendrick Motorsports for 2011, and that means he cannot drive for us, or anyone else. I’ve heard the reports, and there is absolutely nothing to them.