Mark Martin's streak of competing in 621 consecutive NEXTEL Cup races is scheduled to come to a screeching halt after the March 18 Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. 

            Martin, who is racing a partial NEXTEL Cup Series schedule for Ginn Racing, will run the first four races in 2007 before handing over the reigns of the No. 01 Chevrolet to rookie and teammate Regan Smith for the next two events.

            Starting on Feb. 14, 1988 in the Daytona 500, Martin's current streak of NEXTEL Cup starts includes 35 wins and 376 top-10 finishes. Martin is in elite company, sitting fifth on the all-time consecutive start list, behind Ricky Rudd (789), Rusty Wallace (697), Terry Labonte (655) and Dale Earnhardt (648).

            Martin plans to attack the Kobalt Tools 500 with the same ferocity and tenacity that he had when he started his first NEXTEL Cup race at the now defunct North Wilkesboro Speedway in 1981.

            "I'm going to go out there and give it all I've got, just like I do every weekend," Martin said. "To end the streak with a win at a history-rich track like Atlanta would be incredible and fitting."   

            Many drivers would have a hard time walking away willingly from such a feat, but Martin takes it in stride and is thankful to have had the opportunity to put the accomplishment together.

            "The streak tells you that I was lucky enough to never have taken a sick day and that is something I'm glad for and proud of," said Martin who adheres to a rigorous work-out routine. "There was a lot that went into that streak and a lot of hard work. There were great highs and many lows, but I am proud of it.

            "As far as it ending, stuff like that always ends. It would be a lot harder if it were ending with us walking away from NEXTEL Cup altogether, but I'm still able to do what I want to do and we are still running so well, that's really a great thing."

            Despite his storied career in NASCAR's elite divisions, Martin is looking forward to sitting on the couch, remote control in hand taking his first day of work off in nearly 20 years.

             "I can sit there on my couch and watch those guys run into each other. It's going to be a lot of fun to watch at home, Martin said. "I TIVO all of the races and watch just about all of them after the race is over, but as for the last time I went and watched an entire race, I'm not sure. It's been a long time."

            Martin will trade his aluminum racing seat for a recliner following the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway with no regrets.

            "I'm and old guy and it's been a long time," Martin said. "I think I'll be pretty relieved not to be racing 38 times a year and not to be running the type of schedule that we have been used to for so long. I know that sitting home on a weekend and spending good quality time with my family will be a great thing."

            Great seats are still available to the entire Kobalt Tools 500 race weekend and can be obtained by calling 877-9-AMS-TIX.