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Martin, Bayne share front row for Coke Zero 400

July 01, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service, NASCAR.com

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Hendrick driver wins his 50th career pole becoming eighth driver to hit mark

Mark Martin apparently didn't get the memo about NASCAR's youth initiative -- or didn't care.

With a lap at 182.065 mph (49.433 seconds), Martin, at 52 the fourth-oldest driver in the field, knocked the youngest, 20-year-old Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, off the pole for Saturday's Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.

Cup Series Poles

All-time leaders
DriverPoles
David Pearson113
Jeff Gordon70
Cale Yarborough69
Darrell Waltrip59
Bobby Allison58
Bill Elliott55
Mark Martin50

"I was just the lucky guy who got to strap in it [Friday]," said Martin, who credited the Hendrick Motorsports engineering and engine shop with the speed he found in his car. "I really didn't expect to get the pole. When I ran, I could have been first or 21st -- I had no idea."

Bayne (182.002 mph) will start the race on the outside of the front row, followed by Clint Bowyer (181.624 mph) and resurgent Jeff Gordon (181.583 mph), who has more wins at restrictor-plate tracks (12) than any other active driver.

David Ragan, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Andy Lally, Jimmie Johnson, A.J. Allmendinger and Paul Menard will start the race from positions five through 10, respectively.

The pole was Martin's first of the season and the 50th of his career, eighth most all-time.

Bayne missed six weeks of racing this season with an illness that still hasn't been diagnosed. The Coke Zero 400 will be Bayne's second Cup race since returning from the illness -- speculated to be the result of a tick or insect bite -- that sidelined him after the April 17 event at Talladega. After two trips to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota and extensive treatment with antibiotics, Bayne got a clean bill of health and resumed racing June 4 in a Nationwide event at Chicagoland.

Bayne said returning to Daytona as the 500 champion didn't really hit him until he drove onto the race track for the first time.

"When I got on the track ... I realized that my last lap here was a victory lap," Bayne said. "That was the biggest eye-opener, when I finally got back on the track."

Bayne had to qualify for the race on speed. Consequently, he spent his time during Thursday's practice on single-car runs, while those already locked into the field spent their time in the two-car drafting hookups that will characterize Saturday night's race.

"We didn't do any drafting runs in practice," Bayne said. "We did two mock [qualifying] runs, because we had to make it on time, and people pulled out in front of us on those runs, so we really didn't get any practice at all."

Notes-n-Nuggets

• Mark Martin is the oldest driver to score a Daytona pole (52 years, five months, 22 days) eclipsing his own record at 51 years, 28 days in February 2010.
• This is Mark Martin's 50th career Cup Series pole in his 811th race.
• Today's pole speed marked the second-slowest qualifying speed in restrictor-plate history (Daytona and Talladega only) since 1988 and the slowest restrictor-plate qualifying speed at Daytona.The slowest of 178.248 mph was set by Jeff Gordon at Talladega (2011) and the previous slowest at Daytona was 183.565 mph set by Bill Elliott (2001).
• Mark Martin is the 12th different pole winner in 17 Cup Series races in 2011.
• This is Mark Martin's third pole at Daytona in 53 races. Martin has never won a point race at Daytona.
• This is Hendrick Motorsports' 177th career pole, most all-time in the Cup Series.
• This is Hendrick's third pole in 2011.
• This is Hendrick's 13th pole at Daytona and 18th restrictor-plate pole, both the most all time in the Cup Series.
• Trevor Bayne (second) posted his best start in three Cup races at Daytona.
• Clint Bowyer (third) has scored top-15 starts in the past 10 restrictor-plate races, the longest current streak.
• Jeff Gordon (fourth) scored his third consecutive top-five start at Daytona.
• David Ragan (fifth) scored his best start in 10 Daytona races.
• Dale Earnhardt Jr. (sixth) extended a four-race streak of top-15 starts at Daytona.
• Jeff Burton qualified 12th in his 600th Cup Series start.
• Marcos Ambrose qualified 15th in his 100th Cup Series start.
• Kevin Harvick qualified 31st in his 375th Cup Series start.
• Kurt Busch (25th) ended an eight-race streak of top-10 restrictor-plate starts.
• Kyle Busch (38th) ended a six-race streak of top-10 starts at Daytona.

Tony Raines and J.J. Yeley failed to qualify for the 43-car field.

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