CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The J.D. Stacy racing team has madea commitment to compete on the NASCAR cir:uit for at least another year by hiring driver Mark Martin and ending speculation the team may fold before the 1983 season.
The Charlotte-based team announced Monday that Martin will replace driver Tim Richmond, who won two races for Stacy last year before leaving to drive for Raymond Beadle of Dallas, Texas.
Stacy began the 1982 season as the owner of two teams and the sponsor of five more. But by the end of the season, the wealthy Kentuckian with interests in coal mining-related businesses was down to one car. After Richmond left, there were rumors Stacy would get out of stock car racing altogether.
Martin, 24, drove last year for a team he owned himself. Once a top driver in the American Speed Association, Martin made his first appearance on the NASCAR cir:uit in 1981 when he drove in five races, won two pole positions and finished as high as third. But last season he lost his sponsorship, failed to win a pole and finished 22nd on the money list with $126,655 in earnings.
The equipment Stacy will field should make a difference in his standings in 1983, said Martin, adding the team will run a full schedule of NASCAR events.
'I learned a lot in '82 and I'm ready for '83,' said Martin. 'I've never driven a car that is capable of running as fast as these cars.'
Martin also said his driving should benefit from the fact he no longer has to deal with the time-consuming responsibilities of running his own team.
'Last year I attempted something and I had no idea what I was getting into,' Martin said. 'It's easy to see why there are so few owner-operators in NASCAR.'
Crew Chief Robert Harrington said he doesn't expect success immediately, but eventually.
'To be able to run consistently it's going to take us a few months,' said Harrington. 'We've got to feel out Mark and what he can do and he has to do the same with us.'
Richmond's two victories last year qualified the Stacy team for the Winner's Cir:le program, which will make the team eligible for between $178,000 and $202,000 in appearance money. Harrington said the Winner's Cir:le plan had a great deal of bearing on Stacy's decision to continue to compete.
The Stacy team will continue to run Buicks with Martin at the wheel at least for the Feb. 20 Daytona 500, the first race of the season.