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Martin on front row for Daytona 500

DAYTONA, Fla. (Feb. 8, 2009)—Mark Martin looked impressive in his first outing behind the wheel of the No. 5 Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Chevrolet during Sunday’s qualifying session at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The Hendrick Motorsports newcomer turned a lap of 47.919 seconds to secure the outside pole position for the Feb. 15 Daytona 500.

“I can’t wait to get this (No. 5) Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Chevy out there in the draft,” Martin said. “It’s so fast. Everybody on this race team is so charged up. It’s just so fun to go to work every day and I’m glad it’s just about ready to start.”

Martin’s anticipated second-place start marks his best-ever in the Daytona 500. But before he lines up for The Great American Race, Martin will start on the pole position of the second Gatorade Duel 150 on Thursday at Daytona.

In 24 Daytona 500 events, Martin has earned five top-five finishes and nine top-10s. His best finish—second—happened in 2007, when he crossed the line .020 seconds behind Kevin Harvick, marking the closest margin of victory for the 500-mile event at Daytona International Speedway.

But Martin isn’t devoting much thought to the past. He is focusing all of his energy on working with crew chief Alan Gustafson and the No. 5 team.

“It’s just such a thrill for me to be a part of Hendrick Motorsports and get an opportunity to drive a race car with a race team like this, and with this kind of power under the hood,” Martin said. “It’s pretty exciting for me.”

All four Hendrick drivers qualified in the top 12 Sunday. Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet, will join Martin in the second Gatorade Duel 150. Earnhardt qualified 12th and will line up sixth in Thursday’s event.

Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet, qualified sixth and will line up third in the first Gatorade Duel 150. Jeff Gordon qualified ninth in his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet and will line up fifth in the first Duel with Johnson.

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