Daytona Beach, FL (KAIT) - Batesville native Mark Martin has never won the Daytona 500. But the way he lapped the field in qualifying is sure to make him a favorite for next Sunday's season opener. He and Hendrick Motorsports teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. have secured the front row for next week's Daytona 500.
Martin, the only driver to top 191 mph during qualifying Saturday, earned the first pole of his career for NASCAR's season-opening race. Earnhardt will start second, trying to rebound from the worst season in his Sprint Cup career. The front-row sweep continues Hendrick's domination in the sport. Not only has Jimmie Johnson won the last four Cup championships, but teammates Martin and Jeff Gordon gave Hendrick a 1-2-3 finish in the 2009 points standings.
The top 35 drivers from last season are guaranteed starting spots in next Sunday's race, but their positions will be set in Thursday's 150-mile qualifying races.