Hendrick wants decision by July

Updated: March 25, 2009, 4:52 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Rick Hendrick hopes to know by July whether 50-year-old Mark Martin will drive full-time again in 2010.

He also reiterated that he's convinced there's no better person than Martin, whose original deal called for him to drive a partial schedule next season, for the No. 5.

"He's delivered everything I thought and more," Hendrick said during a Wednesday afternoon conference call. "He's a huge asset to this company."

Martin told ESPN.com last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway that he would consider driving another full year if Hendrick, sponsors and his team wanted him to. Hendrick said on Sunday and again on Wednesday that it's "Mark's call."

"I want Mark to be happy," Hendrick said. "Mark sure seems to be happy. You look at guys and you try to determine when they kind of maybe lose their desire. I never had anybody that's had more desire than Mark Martin has.

"He's got so much talent. I think the sport needs him. The sport would miss him," he said.

Before a decision can be made Hendrick must first settle the sponsorship on Martin's car. Kellogg's is up for a renewal, and with the current economic climate there is no guarantee the company will come back.

Hendrick said he also doesn't want to push Martin into a quick decision.

"The worst thing in the world would be if I say let's do a deal and then him get burned out and the end of the year and not want to do it," Hendrick said. "I don't see that happening."

Martin said his immediate decision is turning around a season that got off to a rocky start with two blown engines in the first three races. He is 31st in owner points heading into Sunday's race at Martinsville Speedway.

"There's no convincing [me]," Martin said. "We just don't need to discuss that right now. We've got more important things at hand."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter