Martin takes Daytona 500 pole

Mark Martin beat Hendrick Motorsports team-mate Dale Earnhardt Jr to pole position in qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500

Martin takes Daytona 500 pole

The 51-year-old beat Earnhardt's benchmark by less than one tenth of a second and will start the season from pole position for the first time in his career, as he looks for an elusive first Daytona 500 win.

Martin becomes the oldest polesitter in the 61-year history of the 'Great American Race'.

"This is really special, what a way to start the season," said Martin. "It's such an accomplishment for Hendrick Motorsports, but specially the #5 and #88 shop. Dale is locked in the front row with a rocketship car. You know, he may be the man to beat come next Sunday.

"I've had a great career and had a lot of good stuff happen for me but [winning the Daytona 500] trophy would be the biggest one."

Like Martin, Earnhardt has secured his place on the front row of the grid, matching his best ever starting position for NASCAR's most popular race.

"We would have loved to have got the pole," Earnhardt said. "We had plenty of racecar but Mark and his boys just edged us out and did all the right things, made the right adjustments from that one run we had yesterday and learned from everything. We're happy to be on the front row."

Most drivers went out to qualify without too much on-track preparation as rain washed out most of the practice time on Friday.

Stewart-Haas Racing's Ryan Newman was third after initially holding on to provisional pole, which means besides the first driver to complete his run, Robby Gordon, only Hendrick Motorsports-powered Chevrolets held pole during the session. While Martin and Earnhardt's starting positions are now set, the rest of the line-up will be decided by the Gatorade Duels next Thursday.

Bill Elliott was fastest out of the 18 drivers who needed to go through the qualifying process to secure a place on the field, setting the fourth fastest time, and best among the Fords.

Juan Pablo Montoya was fifth, edging reigning champion Jimmie Johnson who set an identical time to Kurt Busch. Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon rounded out the top ten.

Besides Elliott another two of the non-guaranteed drivers have already secured a spot in the race. Red Bull's Scott Speed and Joe Nemechek have also joined the field for the season-opener, and their starting position will be set through the Duels.

Pos Driver Car Speed Time Gap 1. Mark Martin Chevrolet 191.188 47.074s 2. Dale Earnhardt Jr Chevrolet 190.913 47.142s + 0.068s 3. Ryan Newman Chevrolet 190.577 47.225s + 0.151s 4. Bill Elliott Ford 190.573 47.226s + 0.152s 5. Juan Montoya Chevrolet 190.408 47.267s + 0.193s 6. Kurt Busch Dodge 190.359 47.279s + 0.205s 7. Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 190.359 47.279s + 0.205s 8. Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 190.118 47.339s + 0.265s 9. Kyle Busch Toyota 190.054 47.355s + 0.281s 10. Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 190.050 47.356s + 0.282s 11. Matt Kenseth Ford 190.050 47.356s + 0.282s 12. Sam Hornish Jr Dodge 190.050 47.356s + 0.282s 13. Scott Speed Toyota 189.958 47.379s + 0.305s 14. Marcos Ambrose Toyota 189.757 47.429s + 0.355s 15. Brad Keselowski Dodge 189.737 47.434s + 0.360s 16. Joe Nemechek Toyota 189.709 47.441s + 0.367s 17. Joey Logano Toyota 189.693 47.445s + 0.371s 18. Bobby Labonte Chevrolet 189.665 47.452s + 0.378s 19. Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 189.593 47.470s + 0.396s 20. Michael Waltrip Toyota 189.454 47.505s + 0.431s 21. Tony Stewart Chevrolet 189.374 47.525s + 0.451s 22. David Reutimann Toyota 189.314 47.540s + 0.466s 23. Paul Menard Ford 189.294 47.545s + 0.471s 24. David Ragan Ford 189.282 47.548s + 0.474s 25. AJ Allmendinger Ford 189.255 47.555s + 0.481s 26. Carl Edwards Ford 189.195 47.570s + 0.496s 27. Denny Hamlin Toyota 189.072 47.601s + 0.527s 28. Kasey Kahne Ford 189.056 47.605s + 0.531s 29. Mike Bliss Chevrolet 189.052 47.606s + 0.532s 30. Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 188.996 47.620s + 0.546s 31. Jeff Burton Chevrolet 188.865 47.653s + 0.579s 32. Robby Gordon Toyota 188.735 47.686s + 0.612s 33. Martin Truex Jr Toyota 188.727 47.688s + 0.614s 34. Regan Smith Chevrolet 188.699 47.695s + 0.621s 35. Brian Vickers Toyota 188.628 47.713s + 0.639s 36. Elliott Sadler Ford 188.533 47.737s + 0.663s 37. Greg Biffle Ford 188.411 47.768s + 0.694s 38. Reed Sorenson Toyota 188.391 47.773s + 0.699s 39. Casey Mears Chevrolet 188.300 47.796s + 0.722s 40. Max Papis Toyota 188.198 47.822s + 0.748s 41. David Gilliland Toyota 187.766 47.932s + 0.858s 42. John Andretti Ford 187.512 47.997s + 0.923s 43. Jeff Fuller Toyota 187.363 48.035s + 0.961s 44. Robert Richardson Jr Ford 187.289 48.054s + 0.980s 45. Travis Kvapil Ford 187.285 48.055s + 0.981s 46. Aric Almirola Chevrolet 187.278 48.057s + 0.983s 47. Terry Cook Dodge 187.056 48.114s + 1.040s 48. Boris Said Ford 186.908 48.152s + 1.078s 49. Dave Blaney Toyota 186.254 48.321s + 1.247s 50. Michael McDowell Toyota 185.923 48.407s + 1.333s 51. Derrike Cope Dodge 185.040 48.638s + 1.564s 52. Kirk Shelmerdine Toyota 184.407 48.805s + 1.731s 53. Mike Wallace Dodge 182.678 49.267s + 2.193s 54. Norm Benning Chevrolet 180.607 49.832s + 2.758s 
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