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Daytona 500 starting lineup set

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 13, 2009)—Mark Martin will lead all Hendrick Motorsports drivers when they line up for Sunday’s Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

Martin, driver of the No. 5 Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Chevrolet, will start from the outside pole position for the prestigious 500-mile event after posting the second-fastest time during the Feb. 8 qualifying session. The front row was set by the Feb. 8 qualifying session, and twin qualifying races held Thursday determined the rest of the starting lineup.

Jeff Gordon made the most of his 60-lap Gatorade Duel, taking his No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet to Victory Lane. Gordon, who will line up third for Sunday’s race, was thrilled to kick off Hendrick Motorsports 25th anniversary on a positive note.

“I’m excited to get the 25th anniversary started off right for those guys and be able to celebrate in Victory Lane for all of Hendrick Motorsports,” Gordon said.

Jimmie Johnson raced in the first Duel with Gordon and drove his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet to a third-place finish. He will start the Daytona 500 in the seventh position.

Martin, who led a race-high 36 laps during the second Gatorade Duel, wasn’t disappointed by his second-place finish in the 60-lap qualifying race. He still will start from the outside pole on Sunday.

“What a great effort,” Martin said after Thursday’s event. “We are off to such a great start with the Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Impala. I want to thank (team owner) Rick Hendrick. I want to thank the race fans for supporting me. I wouldn’t have this job if it weren’t for all of our great race fans. I will tell you what, that put a smile on my face. This is a great race team and Rick Hendrick gave me a chance to drive this car, and this is going to be the best year of my life.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the No. 88 AMP Energy/National Guard, will start Sunday’s race in 14th after finishing seventh in the second Gatorade Duel on Thursday. Earnhardt, who led twice for 15 laps on Thursday, was pleased with his Chevy.

“We’ve got a good car for the (Daytona) 500,” Earnhardt said.

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