CORNELIUS, N.C. — No. 55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota driver Mark Martin enjoyed a memorable Sunday. Not only did the 54-year-old Martin finish third in his 29th Daytona 500, but the Michael Waltrip Racing driver spent time with some of his favorite musicians.

Martin met rapper TI Sunday morning in the motorhome lot and that afternoon entertained 50-cent on the No. 55 before accompanying 50-cent to driver introductions.

Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota
Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

The musician spent much of the race on top of the Aaron’s pit box snapping pictures of the crew members and listening in on the team radio communications.

Martin’s Twitter handle @55markmartin jumped 3,000 followers after 50-cent tweeted a picture and referred to Martin’s as the “OG” (Original Gangster) of the Daytona 500.

Martin wasn’t the only No. 55 team member enjoying the sport’s star power on Sunday. Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens gave the pre-race motivational speech to the pit crew members at Daytona.

SUNDAY: “Oh my gosh that was exciting. TI and 50-cent are some of my favorites. That was cool to get to meet them and talk with them. 50 spent a lot of time with us. He came into our hauler and the guys had his music playing.

He asked them their names and what they did. He took as many pictures as we took of him. After the race my Twitter followers jumped 3,000. I said 50 must have done something. It was really good that he took the time to come check out NASCAR.”

DAYTONA 500: “First of all, I feel extremely grateful for the opportunity. There are a number of drivers that didn't get to have a shot at the Daytona 500, and I was at least close enough to have an outside shot.

So I feel extremely lucky for that opportunity. It was an awesome car. There were a lot of things going on there at the end. We had a chance for the big trophy. I had a wonderful car and can’t thank the guys at MWR enough.”

PHOENIX: “I think when we get in these cars at Phoenix they are going to stick like glue. These new Gen-6 cars are going to break a lot of track records in 2013 and I think that could start as soon as Friday in Phoenix.

We were fortunate enough to win the pole here last year. I think we are going to need to go a heck of a lot faster this year to repeat.”

BRIAN DHEEL NO. 55 GAS MAN: “Ray Lewis was pretty cool. He told us about making this moment ours. To go out do your best and let it go when it is all over. It shows you how important the Daytona 500 and NASCAR is to everyone.

All of our races are big to us but it is cool to know it is big to other people as well. We almost did it. If we had won, we’d probably play that recording each week.”

Michael Waltrip Racing