DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Mark Martin scored his 50th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole position during Friday’s qualifying session at Daytona International Speedway, while his Hendrick Motorsports teammates rounded out the top eight. Martin, driver of the No. 5 CARQUEST Auto Parts/GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, now ranks eighth on the all-time list for pole positions.
Martin toured the 2.5-mile superspeedway in 49.433 seconds at roughly 182.065 mph to pick up his third career pole at Daytona. He previously recorded the pole position for the 2010 Daytona 500. The NASCAR veteran also started from the pole at the speedway in July 1989. In 52 previous Cup starts at the historic racetrack, Martin has nine top-five finishes and 18 top-10s.
“Oh, this is awesome," Martin said. "I need to thank Hendrick Motorsports and just everybody. The CARQUEST Auto Parts colors are beautiful, and I can’t wait to get out there tomorrow night. We’ve had a good run at Talladega (Ala.) with Jeff (Gordon) and we’re looking forward to tomorrow night.”
Jeff Gordon earned the fourth starting spot for Saturday's race. The driver of the No. 24 Pepsi MAX Chevrolet has scored six wins, 12 top-five finishes and 18 top-10s in 37 starts.
"We keep sharing these poles on these speedways for Hendrick Motorsports," Gordon said. "So great run for Mark (Martin) and a really good run for us and our Pepsi MAX Chevrolet. I can't wait to get on track with this thing tomorrow and get hooked up with Mark Martin and have a lot of fun. It is an exciting race for a very exciting July 4th weekend. Ought to be plenty of fireworks out there. Hopefully the only fireworks we are worrying about are the ones in Victory Lane."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will roll off the grid sixth in his No. 88 National Guard Heritage/AMP Energy Chevrolet. In 23 Cup starts at Daytona, Earnhardt has two wins, eight top-five finishes and 13 top-10s. The last time Earnhardt lined up sixth at Daytona was in the 2001 Daytona 500, and he scored the runner-up finish.
“Our car seems like it’s got some good speed so hopefully we can do a good job tomorrow,” Earnhardt said.
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Lowe’s Summer Salute Chevrolet, will start eighth on Saturday. In 19 Cup starts, Johnson has one win, six top-five finishes and nine top-10s.
Saturday's race will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT.