Mark Martin won Pole Position for the Daytona 500, lapping the 2.5 mile tri-oval at an average speed of 191.19mph.
“I was just out there riding really fast. It sure is fun,” he said. “That was not accomplishment of mine, it is one of all of our guys on this team.”
Martin, sporting a new GoDaddy.com livery on his Hendrick Chevrolet this year, was the twelfth driver to take to the track, and his lap remained unsurpassed by any of the 42 drivers after him.
Martin's lap was the fastest Daytona 500 pole lap since Dale Jarrett's 191mph effort in 2000. However, despite the current Ford driver's anticipation of a good qualifying effort the 2010 blue ovals fell a little flat.
Bill Elliott ran fourth fastest in his Wood Brothers Ford, while Matt Kenseth was the fastest full-time Ford in eleventh.
“That was a really good lap for us,” the defending Daytona 500 winner said after his lap. “That was faster than the rest of the Fords so far, I guess, so that was good.
“Everybody back at Roush in the fab shop did a good job to get some speed out of the car, so I'm excited to get it in race trim and see how it runs.”
Martin will be joined on the front row by his Hendrick teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr, another driver whose early effort (he went out sixth) proved too much for the later runners in a session which saw strong tailwinds pushing cars down the back straight. It is the first time since 2007 that a single organisation has annexed the front row, Rick Hendrick following on from Yates Racing's David Gilliland and Ricky Rudd.
Kurt Busch was the fastest of a Dodge stable depleted for 2010 at 190.36mph while his younger brother Kyle was the fastest Toyota whose Joe Gibbs Racing No.18 was ninth fastest in the session.
“We didn't get quite what we were looking for out of the M&M's Camry, but the guys did a great job,” said the younger Busch. “Our temperatures were all good with everything that we wanted to hit right, we hit right. The wind is kind of playing a little havoc today. Maybe we missed on the gear a little.”
Ryan Newman was the third of the Chevrolets at the top of the chart, while Juan Montoya was fifth fastest. Defending series champion Jimmie Johnson turned the seventh fastest lap and Martin Truex Jr., last year's pole sitter now in a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota was 33rd fastest.
However, behind the top two qualifying times mean little, thanks to the unique way the starting line-up for the Daytona 500 is set. The field, all 54 entrants will be split into two 150-mile races on Thursday, those who qualified in even numbered positions in one race, odd numbered qualifiers the other. It is the results of those races that will decide the starting line-up for Sunday's race.
Due to NASCAR's top-35 owner point rule a bulk of the entrants are already guaranteed a start in the 43 car field, however the remaining 19 have to make the race on speed alone as there are only eight extra spots.
Three have secured their starts by way of being the fastest three “go-or-go-home” drivers in time trials, Bill Elliott, Scott Speed and Joe Nemechek being the beneficiaries. Four more will be decided in the twin races, the best placed two “go-or-go-home” cars winning though. The final place will, if necessary (if he is not among the first two) go to Bobby Labonte, as a past NASCAR champion.