Daytona Shootout: Mark Martin preview

MARTIN REVS UP FOR RECORD-EXTENDING 20th - CONSECUTIVE BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT Veteran driver set to make No. 8 debut in 30th annual running of Bud Shootout DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 8, 2008) -- Mark Martin's appearance in Saturday night's (Feb.

MARTIN REVS UP FOR RECORD-EXTENDING 20th - CONSECUTIVE BUDWEISER SHOOTOUT

Veteran driver set to make No. 8 debut in 30th annual running of Bud Shootout

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 8, 2008) -- Mark Martin's appearance in Saturday night's (Feb. 9) Budweiser Shootout at Daytona International Speedway will be his record-extending 20th consecutive start in the all-star event and his 21st overall. The race will also mark his debut in the No. 8 U.S. Army Chevrolet.

"I've always really enjoyed the Bud Shootout," said Martin. "It's one of those deals where points aren't a factor and second place doesn't mean a whole lot. I've had a lot of fun racing in the Shootout over the years. We were able to hang on and win it in 1999, and we've had some pretty good outings in other years."

"It's always a good race to gear up for the (Daytona) 500 and get used to any changes you have on your team from the previous season," continued Martin. "This will be my first race with Tony Gibson and the No. 8 guys and I'm pretty excited to get on the track and see what we can do together. I can't think of a better way to kick it off for the No. 8 U.S. Army team than to get a win in the Shootout and build some momentum heading into the 500."

Martin's first Shootout -- Feb. 7, 1982 -- had historical significance for the long-running NASCAR all-star race. The Batesville, Ark. native became the first rookie to qualify for the event after winning his first Cup pole in only his third career start on July 11, 1981 at Nashville International Raceway. Martin would go on to capture two poles in 1981, despite running only five races. He finished eighth in the 1982 Shootout (then called the Busch Clash) behind the wheel of the No. 02 Buick.

Martin has amassed 41 career poles -- a large reason for his 20 Shootout starts. He'll start this year's Shootout via a former winner's provisional, a right he earned when he held off Ken Schrader to win the 1999 event.

After the 1982 Clash, Martin did not compete in the event again until 1989, but the veteran driver has not missed the event since. In 20 starts in the Budweiser Shootout Martin has an average finish of 7.5. He finished sixth in the event a year ago.

"We worked really hard in the off season," added Martin. "Now it's time to get out on the track and see what we have. We know that we still have a lot of work cut out for us on this No. 8 team, but I'm confident in Tony (Gibson) and this U.S. Army Team and I think we can get the job done this season and hopefully go out and compete to win races."

-credit: dei

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Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Mark Martin