DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 8, 2009) – Martin Truex Jr. and Mark Martin captured prestigious front row starting spots on Sunday afternoon for next weekend’s 51st annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
Truex Jr., in the No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet for the newly merged Ganassi-Dale Earnhardt Inc. team, posted a fast lap of 188.001 mph on the legendary 2.5-mile tri-oval to capture the pole while Mark Martin turned a lap of 187.817 mph in the No. 5 Kellogg’s Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports to earn the outside pole.
“I’m just real proud of all my guys and all their hard work and efforts this winter,” Truex Jr. said. “Moving to a new shop and putting two teams together and they were able to keep their heads down and keep moving forward. So I’m real proud of them. It’s a great lap and a great way to start off the week here in Daytona.”
Truex Jr., in his fifth Daytona 500 start, will try to become the first driver to win the Daytona 500 from the pole position since Dale Jarrett back in 2000.
Martin, who is returning to full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition with Hendrick Motorsports in 2009, is anxious to get racing in what will be his 25th career Daytona 500 start.
“I can’t wait to get this (car) out there in the draft,” said Martin, who is still seeking his first career Daytona 500 triumph. “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.”
The outside pole is Martin’s best start in the Daytona 500 with previous best starting position being a fifth in 1989 and 1992.
Only the front-row starting positions in the Daytona 500 are locked in. In addition, the top 35 on owner’s points from 2008 are also guaranteed a starting spot in the Daytona 500.
Bill Elliott (187.739, fifth fastest), Travis Kvapil (187.574, eighth fastest) and Tony Stewart (187.336, 10th fastest) have qualified for the Daytona 500 as they were fastest among teams not in the top 35 in 2008 owner’s points. Also securing a Daytona 500 starting spot was Terry Labonte through the champion’s provisional.
The remainder of the Daytona 500 field will be finalized in Thursday’s Gatorade Duel At Daytona 150-mile qualifying races.
Tickets remain available for NASCAR’s biggest, richest and most prestigious race. For tickets, Sprint FANZONE/Pre-Race access packages and more information for the 51st annual Daytona 500, call 1-800-PITSHOP or visit www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.