RICHMOND, Va. (AP) – It isn’t much of a surprise, but it looks like Mark Martin’s retirement from NASCAR’s Nextel Cup series is going to be postponed for a year.

In the afterglow of a victory in Thursday night’s IROC race at Richmond International Raceway, Martin said it appears he will be back in Jack Roush’s No. 6 Ford next season, after all.

“It really looks like I’m going to be in the 6 car next year,” Martin said.

The 46-year-old Martin said he had planned to spend next season driving a handful of Busch Series races, as well as racing for his own new team in NASCAR’s Craftsman Truck Series. But things got complicated recently when Roush signed Jamie McMurray away from Chip Ganassi Racing.

McMurray signed for 2007, with the hope that he or Roush could convince Ganassi not to pick up his option for 2006. Ganassi has refused to let McMurray go next season.

, though, apparently leaving Roush a driver short.

Instead of trying to find an interim driver, Roush has begged Martin, who came to the Cup series with Roush in 1988, to help him out and stay on for one more year.

Apparently, Martin has indeed decided to continue in the No. 6 through 2006.

“I’ve had to change my plans,” Martin said, shrugging and making a face. “My first truck is already done and I was looking forward to that. I was going to do a limited Busch schedule and a full truck schedule in 2006. Now, I’m trying to back out of the h deal, if I can. I can’t do 10 Busch races, 25 truck races and 36 Cup races.

“I thought I was going to slow down, not race more.”

Martin, a four-time runner-up in the Cup series, has had a strong 2005 season, with six top-five finishes and 12 top-10s in 25 starts. He has already clinched a spot in the 10-race Chase for the Nextel Cup championship.

AP-ES-09-08-05 2121EDT


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