Manager expects Martin to run in 'more than 26' races

Updated: March 20, 2007, 10:28 PM ET
By Marty Smith | ESPN.com

Mark Martin won't compete in every race in 2007, but if you ask the folks in his camp, he won't miss many.

Mark Martin
Martin

Benny Ertel, Martin's business manager, told ESPN Tuesday that he expects Martin to run "more than 26 [races]," and if the No. 01 Chevrolet qualifies for the owner's Chase for the Nextel Cup, he'd "bet the house" Martin would run each of the final 10 events.

"The guy eats and breathes racing, and if NASCAR would say it's 30 races [that count toward] the championship, he'd do it," Ertel said. "But it's not, so his schedule started off as 22 and he's already moved it to 23.

"If they'll just let this guy catch his breath, you never know, he might run the whole schedule next year."

Regardless how many races Martin chooses to run in 2007 it won't affect rookie Regan Smith's schedule.

Ertel said they've been informed by Ginn Racing that Smith will run the 16 races previously allotted him whether Martin is in them or not.

Martin's streak of 621 consecutive Cup Series starts will come to an end this weekend. While his Nextel Cup compatriots are in Bristol, Tenn., unveiling the Car of Tomorrow, he'll be in Florida serving as crew chief for motocross superstar Ricky Carmichael in his stock car debut.

Ultimately, Martin's decision to scale back hinges on the arduous schedule.

It's too long.

"The schedule sucks every ounce of time that you have," Martin said. "It sucks it all out and I've given everything. Racing has come first in my life, not my family. I haven't had a sick day in 19 years. I haven't missed a day's work. So I laid out a different schedule for 2007."

Marty Smith covers NASCAR for ESPN.com.