Martin draws top spot at Daytona Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 5, 1998) Under the old Busch Clash format, Mark Martin got used to having to start from the back of the pack for the annual all-star race that kicks...
Martin draws top spot at Daytona
Shawn A. Akers - NASCAR Online
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 5, 1998) Under the old Busch Clash format, Mark Martin got used to having to start from the back of the pack for the annual all-star race that kicks off the NASCAR Winston Cup Series season.
A new name for the event and a new agenda have apparently brought better fortunes for Martin. The driver of the No. 6 Valvoline Ford will start from the point for Sunday's inaugural Bud Shootout At Daytona after drawing the pole position during a press conference Thursday morning at DAYTONA USA.
"I've started in the back of this thing for 10 years, so now I'm going to feel what it's like to start up front," said Martin of his 11th appearance in the event. "This is probably the best starting spot I've ever had for it, and I've probably got the worst car I've ever had for the race. I don't know exactly what we've got for Sunday, but we'll do everything we can to keep the Valvoline Ford up front."
Martin's best starting position for the race was fourth, twice, in 1992 and '93, but his average starting position during his career is 7.6. His best finish in the event was second in 1991, when Dale Earnhardt won it.
Martin and the other Ford drivers will get their first taste of what their new Taurus will do in traffic on Sunday during the Bud Shootout.
"I don't think there's any big mystery on it any more," Martin said of the Taurus. "I think the car's going to be a good car. We're disappointed with our speeds but a lot of the others are real good. Our car is going to be great when we get away from Daytona.
"I'm probably one of the dumbest restrictor plate drivers there is, obviously, because I can't seem to qualify better than 25th ever, so we've done good in the races. We've managed to win a couple of restrictor plate races, and race really well. It's about racing. It's not about whereIyou start, it's where you finish."
Martin will be joined on the front row for Sunday's race by Ken Schrader, driver of the No. 33 Skoal Bandit Chevrolet, who drew the second spot Thursday morning. Schrader, making his eighth appearance in the Bud Shootout, won the race in 1990 and '91, but didn't qualify for last year's event.
"I'm definitely excited to be back in it," Schrader said. "Any time you're not it in, it's a terrible day because you just have to sit there and watch it. You never want to do that. But we're excited about it, and it should be a fun race to watch."
Mike Skinner, one of three first-timers in the race, drew the third position and will start alongside Ward Burton in Row 2. Joe Nemechek and Kenny Wallace are the others who will make their first starts.
"For my first full year in Winston Cup (1997) and to be a part of this race, this is a big honor," Skinner said. "I always pulled for No. 3 (his teammate, Earnhardt) when I watched this race, now I hope he's able to get in it and we can finish 1-2. Of course, that's with me in front of him."
The format for the race has changed for this year's Bud Shootout At Daytona. Past Busch Clash races have consisted of a pair of 10-lap sprints around the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway, and the field was inverted after the first segment with the highest finisher in the first segment being relegated to the rear of the field for the second.
This year, the race will begin with a 25-lap race for all of 1997's second-round fastest qualifiers. The winner of the first 25-lap event will start at the end of the field for the big race, in the 17th position.
Sterling Marlin drew the No. 1 starting spot for the qualifying race. He'll start on the front row alongside Greg Sacks. Earnhardt, a six-time winner of the old Busch Clash, will start from the third position in the qualifying race.
Martin is happy with the race's new format.
"I don't think you should ever invert. It encourages people to sandbag, and it's not very fair," Martin said. "I think if you go out and earn something, you should be able to capitalize on it. Hopefully that's how this thing will turn out. We've got a lot of good cars and a lot of good teams for this thing. We're real excited about the format and about being a part of it."
Jeff Gordon, a two-time winner of the race, is the event's defending champion.