Daytona 500: Mark Martin preview

After coming up inches short of victory in last year's Daytona 500, Mark Martin heads into the 2008 season and this year's Daytona Speedweeks with an all new team, number and outlook, as the veteran looks for his first Daytona 500 trophy in his...

After coming up inches short of victory in last year's Daytona 500, Mark Martin heads into the 2008 season and this year's Daytona Speedweeks with an all new team, number and outlook, as the veteran looks for his first Daytona 500 trophy in his 24th start in the great American Race.

TAKING OVER THE NO. 8

Martin will take the wheel of Dale Earnhardt Inc.'s flagship No. 8 Chevrolet this season. Martin, who drove the No. 01 car last season and the No. 6 car for the previous 19 seasons, will start fresh with an impressive team, headed up by crew chief Tony Gibson. Martin will share the No. 8 U.S. Army car with rookie Aric Almirola.

MARTIN STRONG IN RECENT DAYTONA 500s

Martin has actually posted two of his strongest Daytona 500 outings in his previous two 500 starts. Martin has led a combined 45 laps in his past two Daytona 500s, including 26 in last season's controversial second-place finish and 19 in 2006.

MARTIN'S HISTORY IN THE DAYTONA 500

Martin came just inches from his first Daytona 500 victory last season, getting edged at the line by Kevin Harvick in one of the most controversial finishes in NASCAR history. Martin will look to close the deal this season in his 24th start in the Daytona 500. It will be the 50th running of the Great American race. Martin's second-place finish a year ago is his best in the Daytona 500. Martin finished 31st his Daytona 500 debut on February 14, 1982.

MARTIN AT DAYTONA INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY

Despite the close finish last season, Martin, a resident of Daytona Beach, has never won a NASCAR Cup point race at Daytona. He did win the Budweiser Shootout in 1999 and the Craftsman Truck event in 2006. In addition, Martin boasts two wins in the IROC series at Daytona (2003 and 2005.)

RECORD-EXTENDING STREAK IN THE BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT

Martin finished eighth in his record-extending 20th consecutive start in this season's Budweiser Shootout. Martin won the all-star event in 1999. It will be his 21st overall start, dating back to 1982 when he started his first Shootout, then called the Busch Clash.

MARTIN'S 2008 SCHEDULE

Martin will pilot the U.S. Army No. 8 car in 26 races this year, including 24 point events. Aric Almirola will drive the car in the remaining 12 races. In addition, Martin will drive the No. 5 Hendrick Busch entry in five events this season.

MARK MARTIN:

"We are really excited about moving into this season. It's really an honor to be driving that No. 8 car for Dale Earnhardt Inc. I raced Dale Earnhardt in the No. 8 Busch car that was owned by Dale and Teresa back in the early '80s, and it's hard to believe I am driving the No. 8 car for DEI all these years later. I had a lot of battles with Dale Earnhardt over the years and we both respected each other a great deal and it's really awesome to be driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc. in that No. 8 car this season."

"I'm also excited about this No. 8 U.S. Army Team. Tony Gibson and these guys have great cars and they are fun to work with. We had some really good test sessions in the off-season and we are excited about getting down to Daytona and doing it for real. Hopefully we can go back down there and finish the job that we almost accomplished last season. I know that nothing would be better than to get a win in the No. 8 U.S. Army car in the Great American race for not only Dale Earnhardt Inc., but for all the soldiers that we represent with that car each week."

"We had a really good horse in the Shootout, and I think that we'll get even better as the race goes on and it gets a little slicker out there on the track. These COT cars are a lot different than what we are used to racing the past several years, so its going to take some time for everyone to really get used to them. They require a lot more give and take and it should make for some interesting racing in the 150s and the Daytona 500."

-credit: dei

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Kevin Harvick , Aric Almirola , Mark Martin