DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Hey, Danica, theres another driver in GoDaddy.com colors making noise at Daytona International Speedway.
In his first event with his new sponsor, Mark Martin stole headlines for at least a few hours as he won the pole for the 2010 Daytona 500.
Martin ran a fast lap of 190.188 mph, beating Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. by 0.088 seconds.
The pole run continues Hendrick's recent dominance on pole day at Daytona; Jimmie Johnson claimed the pole in 2008 and Martin won the outside pole last year. More important for Martin, it continues his wave of momentum from 2009 when he scored five wins and finished runner-up in the championship.
The 1-2 finish for the 5-88 shop also boosts the hopes for Earnhardt's team.
"When we went out yesterday and (Dale Jr.) ran a (47.70-second lap) and we ran a (41.71). I looked at Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and asked, 'Its supposed to be like that, right?' And he said 'Yeah,'" Martin said. "We hope to both raise our game this year, 5 and 88.
It was kind of a surprise last year to me that we sat on the outside pole. After a little while, Ive kinda come to expect it with these guys. They bring fast race cars."
Should Martin, 51, continue his momentum and go on to win the Daytona 500, he would become the eighth driver to pull off the feat and the oldest. The 1988 winner, Bobby Allison, currently holds the mark (50 years old).
The Daytona 500 uses a unique qualifying format where only the first two starting positions for the race are locked in during qualifying day. Four drivers not locked into the race via the Top 35 rule also secured a starting position Saturday: two-time Daytona 500 winner Bill Elliott, Scott Speed and Joe Nemechek (the three fastest non-top-35 teams) and Bobby Labonte (past champion's provisional) but their starting positions will be set along with the rest of the field during Thursday's Gatorade Duel races.