July, 23 – NASCAR veteran Tommy Joe Martins has run his final race for BJ McLeod Motorsports. At a press conference at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Martins announced he would be moving to the #66 car for Motorsports Business Management for a six race schedule beginning next week at Watkins Glen.
“This is a bittersweet day for me,” Martins said at the press conference. “As a driver for a small team, I feel like I’ve found an identity with BJ. He’s created a lot of opportunities for me, & I just want to say thank you to him and the whole team. I feel like I’ve been the face of the team for a few years. To make the move, it’s tough, it’s really tough to say goodbye to everybody.”
Over the last three years, Martins made 37 starts for BJMM, more than any other driver. During that time, Martins’ average finish with the team improved over each season. Even after early season troubles at Atlanta & ISM Raceway, Martins averaged a top-25 finish in the #99 car in 2019, with three top-20’s & a season best 18th place finish at Michigan International Speedway.
“I feel like this move is going to create new opportunities for me,” Martins said. “Like opportunities for more races; Carl [Long – owner of MBM] has 4 cars, so there’s more flexibility when a funded driver comes in for a race. As you know I’ve been very part time this year, and I’d like to be at the track more often.”
Martins also hinted at a move up the NASCAR ladder in his near future.
“Carl has a Cup car. We’ve talked about it. I’m 32. I’m not getting any younger. I’d like to make that move to the Cup level at some point and he can make that happen,” Martins said. “We both know it’s a bottom 5 car at that level, but at the same time I’ve seen guys impress on small teams and get opportunities. I feel like I can do that.”
Martins’ announced schedule included all four NASCAR Xfinity Series road course races (Mid-Ohio, Watkins Glen, Road America, & the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway), as well as Bristol Motor Speedway & Texas Motor Speedway in the fall. But, Martins did leave the door open for additional races to be added.
Martins also announced that his long time sponsor, Diamond Gusset Jeans, would be the primary sponsor on the #66 for his races this season. That prompted a quick question from the bullpen on whether or not sponsorship was the primary reason for the departure from BJMM.
“Absolutely not,” Martins said. “Diamond Gusset has been a long time personal sponsor of mine, but that’s not the reason for the move. Carl just wants me to be a part of his team. Nobody in this garage is recruiting me for my money.”
So why the mid-season move?
“I had an 8 race agreement with BJ to start the year, and that turned into a 9 race deal this weekend,” Martins said. “He’s filled the #99 car out for a while, and I really wasn't sure when my next opportunity would be. Carl’s got an opportunity for me right now.”
Martins finished 25th in the ROXOR 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to close out his career at BJMM. His best career NASCAR finish, 11th, was with the team at iowa Speedway in 2017.
“The last thing BJ said to me before I left was ‘never say never’,” Martins said with a smile post race. “He told me I’m just moving a few haulers down. It’s not goodbye. But I’m really excited for what’s next in my career.”